Who wins and who’s on the podium in Sunday’s Children’s of Alabama Indy Grand Prix (3 p.m. ET, NBC, INDYCAR Radio Network)?

Qualifying is everything here. All 12 races have been won from a top 10 starter. Furthermore, 10 of the 12 INDYCAR races at Barber have been won by a top five starter. 5 of the last 6 have been won by the top 3 including 4 straight.

It’s not just here. It’s natural road courses in general.

Starting positions for natural road courses lately (since 2016) 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 7th, 1st, 5th, 2nd, 3rd, 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 20th, 1st, 4th, 1st, 8th, 2nd, 8th, 2nd, 1st, 7th, 9th, 7th, 1st, 1st, 2nd, 1st, 1st, 7th, 5th, 1st, 2nd, 1st and 1st, 2nd, 14th, 2nd, 2nd, 2nd, 1st, and 11th. That’s 42 of the last 46 (91%) coming from the top 10 including 22 from the pole and 35 of 46 (76%) from the Fast 6.

Since 2020, the year the Aeroscreen debuted, 13 of the 21 races (62%) have been won via a front row starter including 9 of the last 11 (82%) and 5 of the 7 (71%) last year. 15 of the 21 (71%) were won from a Fast Six starter while 19 of the last 21 (90%) from the top 10.

If you fail to get out of the first round on Saturday, you basically have no shot at a win. You also have no shot at a podium either. Out of the last 6 years (18 podiums), 17 of the 18 trophies were given to a Fast Six starter. The only time it wasn’t was when Josef Newgarden won from 7th in 2017.

Podium Starters Since 2016:

2022: 2nd, 3rd, 1st

2021: 3rd, 4th, 5th

2019: 1st, 3rd, 5th

2018: 1st, 4th, 5th

2017: 7th, 4th, 3rd

2016: 1st, 6th, 3rd

We can also break this down even further among those that are starting up front in who has the best chances of a win on Sunday.

Since 2020 (21 races) which was the debut of the Aeroscreen, Team Penske has 8 wins on these types of tracks. They have the most Barber wins (6) as well. However, each of those 6 came in the first nine years of this event. They’re 0-for-3 since with their last triumph coming on April 23, 2018.

That win by Josef Newgarden started a trend to where we’ve seen a different organization win for the last four years. Penske (2018), Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan Racing (2019), No Race (2020), Chip Ganassi Racing (2021) and Arrow McLaren (2022). Does this trend continue?

Andretti Autosport would be next up to do so. They’ve won twice here (2013, 2014), both by Ryan Hunter-Reay. They’ve also won the third most times (4) in this span with only Penske’s 8 and Chip Ganassi Racing (7) with more.

Andretti won both Indy road course races a year ago.

Only the McLaren win last year by Pato O’Ward and Ed Carpenter Racing on the Indy Road Course (2021) are the only other teams to have won on a natural road course during the Aeroscreen era.

They’re also dominating the podiums too. Between Penske (19), Ganassi (18) and Andretti (15), they’ve combined to have taken 52 of the 63 podiums chances (83%) in this span. Dale Coyne Racing is next best with four, followed by ECR (3), McLaren (2) and RLL (2).

Top 5 Finishers

  1. 10 Palou – Won in 2021 and second in 2022. Palou was 10th and 1st respectively in practice and qualified 2nd.
  2. 28 Grosjean – He’s fast. However, he’s 0-for-33 in INDYCAR, is 0-for-3 when starting on the pole. Barber has only seen 5 pole winners end up winning in 12 races and INDYCAR has seen just 3 pole winners win the last 20 races overall.
  3. 5 O’Ward – 4th from the pole in 2021 and won from second last year. He starts third. I think skipping the test this spring keeps him out of victory lane but not off the podium.
  4. 9 Dixon – 4th in both practice sessions, 5th in qualifying, 5th last year.
  5. 3 McLaughlin – Too good this weekend not to score a top five. He was first and third in practice and starts fourth.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s