Sunday, April 26, 2015

Morning Warm-Up: Barber 2015

Hélio Castroneves aims to make it four different winners in four race
Hélio Castroneves won his second consecutive pole position, as he will lead a Penske 1-2-3 to the green flag for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. It is Castroneves' 43rd career pole position and second at Barber. He won the pole at Barber in 2012 and he won the inaugural Barber race in 2010. Castroneves has won 12 races from pole position, his last being Motegi 2010. This is the first time he has won consecutive poles since 2008 when he won poles at Nashville and Mid-Ohio and finished third and second respectively. Castroneves has finished second in the last two races. Starting second is Will Power. The two-time winner at Barber started second at the Alabama track in 2013. He finished fifth that day.

Simon Pagenaud starts third and has finished in the top ten in all four of his starts at Barber but has never finished on the podium. He finished fourth last year. Scott Dixon starts fourth. He has five podiums in five Barber races and has finished runner-up four times. Dixon has started every Barber race in the top five as well. Rounding out the top five is Josef Newgarden as the Tennessean still looks for this first career victory. This will be Newgarden's 55th career start. Only 23 drivers have won after their 55th career start. Tony Kanaan joins Newgarden on row three. He started sixth at Barber in 2012 and finished a lap down in 21st.

Sébastien Bourdais makes it a clean sweep of the top seven for Chevrolet at a Honda-sponsored race. Bourdais' lone top ten at Barber was a ninth place finish in 2012 driving for Lotus. It was Lotus' only top ten in their one and only disastrous season in IndyCar. This will be only the seventh time Bourdais has started a race from seventh position. Graham Rahal is the top Honda in eighth position. Rahal has not won in 116 starts. The record for most starts between victories is 97, held by Johnny Rutherford. Luca Filippi starts ninth, his fifth career start in the top ten. He has two top tens in his first three races with CFH Racing. The furthest back a Barber winner has started is ninth. James Hinchcliffe rounds out the top ten. Barber was the site of Hinchcliffe's IndyCar debut in 2011 driving for Newman-Haas Racing.

Teammates Charlie Kimball and Sage Karam start on row six. Kimball has three top tens in four Barber starts and Karam has three top tens in four Barber starts between Pro Mazda and Indy Lights. Marco Andretti and James Jakes make up row seven. Andretti finished second last year at Barber and Jakes has never finished in the top fifteen at Barber. Juan Pablo Montoya starts 15th. Last year the Colombian started eighth and finished 21st. Rookie Stefano Coletti starts 16th as he still looks for his first career top ten.

Gabby Chaves starts 17th and he to is looking for his first career top ten finish. Chaves won at Barber last year in Indy Lights. Ryan Hunter-Reay has won the last two Barber races but will start 18th today. Hunter-Reay was won three times when starting outside the top ten. His first career victory at Surfers Paradise came from 12th on the grid in 2003, last year's Indianapolis 500 victory came from 19th on the grid and last year's victory at Iowa saw Hunter-Reay win from 13th. A.J. Foyt Racing rounds out the top ten with Jack Hawksworth starting ahead of Takuma Sato.

Rodolfo González will start 21st for his IndyCar debut. He will join Milka Duno and E.J. Viso as Venezuelans to make IndyCar starts. Carlos Muñoz will join him on row 11. This is Muñoz's 25th career start and third start outside the top 20. Francesco Dracone rounds out the grid in 23rd position.

NBCSN's coverage of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama begins at 3:00 p.m. ET with green flag at 3:37 p.m. ET.