TRACK: Barber Motorsports Park (2.38-mile, 16-turn road course), DISTANCE: 90 Laps (214.2 Miles)
Favorites – Can Dixon get his 1st Barber win?
He’s won this race in two of the last three years including three wins in the last five overall at Barber. Newgarden, has a top four in five straight years there at that.
He’s never won at Barber before, but Dixon does have six runner-up’s including the last time out in 2019. Furthermore, he’s had a podium in 8 of 10 tries.
He’s eyeing a bounceback season. While he’s never won at Barber before either, he does have two fifth place finishes in three years.
It’s finally here. The 2021 NTT IndyCar Series season will kickoff on Sunday at the Barber Motorsports Park for the 11th running of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama (3 p.m. ET, NBC, INDYCAR Radio Network). This year’s opener looks a lot different in a sense that it’s not going to take place in March and it’s not going to be on the streets of St. Pete. Barber moves to the opener as a one-off in ’21 and with all the drivers having tested here this past offseason, how much of an advantage does that play?
Penske should be the ones to beat this week in having won in 6 of the 10 years of this race, but Will Power and Simon Pagenaud have had some recent struggles on this track though. Power, has no top 10’s in his last three Barber starts with his last podium coming in his 2012 win. Pagenaud, was ninth in his last two Barber starts with his last podium coming in 2017.
That opens the door for others. Scott Dixon is 0-for-10 at Barber but does have 8 podiums. 6 of those 8 have been runner-ups. He won the season opener at Texas last year. Can he go back-to-back in season opening victories?
Barber has produced some tense moments and I expect nothing less on Sunday as the green flag waves on 2021.
The winner of the season opener the last 2 years has gone on to win the NTT INDYCAR Series championship outright at seasons end. They’ve done so on 2 different tracks too. Josef Newgarden won the opener in 2019 at St. Pete and was champion that year. Scott Dixon won the opener at Texas a year ago and was champion too. Can that trend continue this weekend in Barber?
Starting position matters here. All 10 race winners have come from a top 10 starting spot with 8 of the 10 from the top five at that.