Sunday, April 23, 2017

Morning Warm-Up: Barber 2017

Will Power took another pole position at Barber Motorsports Park
For the second time this season and 46th-time in IndyCar history, Will Power will lead the field to the green flag as the Australian took pole position for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama with a lap of 69.9614 seconds. This is Power's fourth pole in eight Barber appearances. This is the first time Power has won at least two of the first three pole positions of the season since 2011 when he won three consecutive pole positions to start the season. Power won from pole position and led every lap at Barber in 2011. Joining Power on row one will be his teammate Hélio Castroneves, who missed out on pole position by 0.1815 seconds. This is Castroneves' third career front row start at Barber but he has only finished better than or equal to his starting position at Barber three times in his career. Only three times has Castroneves won a race where Power started on pole position (Barber 2010, St. Petersburg 2012 and Texas 2013).

Simon Pagenaud made it a sweep of the top three for Team Penske but he was 0.4203 seconds off his teammate in the final round of qualifying. Pagenaud has never won at a track in back-to-back years but that could change this weekend and his nine victories have come at eight different tracks. The only repeat is the IMS road course. Scott Dixon was the top qualifying Honda on the outside of row two. This is the third consecutive year Scott Dixon has started fourth at Barber. He has never started worse than fifth at the track but he has never started on the front row either. Ryan Hunter-Reay rounds out the top five with James Hinchcliffe joining him on row three. Hunter-Reay had started 18th the last two years at Barber. The previous two times Hunter-Reay made the Fast Six at Barber he has won the race. Hinchcliffe has qualified in the top ten in six of seven Barber appearances

Josef Newgarden just missed out on the final round of qualifying but he will start seventh, his fourth consecutive top ten start at Barber. This will be the fifth-time Newgarden has started seventh in his IndyCar career. He has three top ten finishes in his previous four seventh-place starts. Mikhail Aleshin joins Newgarden on row four in what is the Russian's best career start at Barber. However, in Aleshin's 11 previous top ten starts, he has finished outside the top ten in seven of those and six of those have been finishes outside the top fifteen. Ganassi teammates Max Chilton and Tony Kanaan swept row five. This is Chilton's sixth career top ten start. Ninth is the furthest back a Barber winner has started from. Kanaan has never won a race from row five in his career.

Ed Jones made the second round of qualifying for the first time in his career and he will start 11th. He out qualified his teammate and championship leader Sébastien Bourdais, who will start 12th. Bourdais has made at least the second round of qualifying the previous three years at Barber but he failed to finish better than his starting position in those three races. Marco Andretti missed the second round of qualifying by 0.0031 seconds and he will start 13th with his teammate Takuma Sato joining him on row seven. This is the third time in his career Andretti has started 13th at Barber. This will be the seventh consecutive Barber race where Sato has started outside the top ten. Charlie Kimball and Carlos Muñoz will start on row eight. Kimball is looking to avoid a third consecutive races with a first lap accident while A.J. Foyt Racing has only one top ten finish at Barber (seventh by Mike Conway in 2012).

Spencer Pigot and Alexander Rossi will start on row nine. Pigot has won all four of his starts at Barber in Pro Mazda and Indy Lights. Rossi started 20th last year in his first appearance at Barber and finished 15th. This will be the ninth time Rossi has started outside the top fifteen in his IndyCar career. Zach Veach will make his IndyCar debut from 19th on the grid ahead of Conor Daly with Graham Rahal rounding out the field in 21st. Veach will be the first driver to start an IndyCar race with a first name beginning with the letter Z since Zak Morioka at Texas on October 15, 2000. Daly finished 20th last year at Barber. Rahal matches his career-worst starting position at Barber and he finished 21st from 21st in 2013 at the track. This is the 20th time Rahal has started outside the top twenty in his IndyCar career. He has only four top ten finishes when starting outside the top twenty.

NBCSN's coverage of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama begins at 3:00 p.m. ET with green flag scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET. The race is scheduled for 90 laps.