Sato Dominates at Barber Motorsports Park

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The tenth running of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama is in the books. Takuma Sato was in control all day – that is until Lap 85, when he went off course and ripped some of the underbody off of the car. That was about the only suspense up near the front. For just a second, you wondered if Scott Dixon would be able to take the lead in the last few laps and possibly win. It was not to be. This day belonged to Sato.

I have an idea that watching this race on television was fascinating. But the one disadvantage of attending a race in person is that you’re not exactly sure what all is going on. Fortunately, technology allows us to go back and watch the replay to find out all of the strategies that were going on.But as we sat on the hill overlooking Turn Two, we could not hear a thing and the video board beyond Turn Three really didn’t tell us much.

After just a few laps, many cars that were running further back made early pits stops. That told me that there were many different strategies taking place, but going old-school up on the hill with poor cell service – all I had to rely on were my eyes and my not-so-good memory.

There was only one yellow, on Lap 57, when Max Chilton crashed into the tire barrier going into Pit-In. At the same time, Graham Rahal coasted to a stop with a stuck throttle on the backstretch. I was a little perplexed sitting and watching from Turn Two, because it appeared that all of the leaders were allowed to pit before the full-course yellow came out. I thought it was a little strange, but in the post-race press conference – Scott Dixon said he was in favor of doing that when the situation allows it. He compared it to how IMSA handles such situations. I like that tactic better than leaving the pits closed for several laps.

When the green flag came back out on Lap 64, I went down to the fence to take a video of the restart, but I was too low to get any perspective. By the time I got back to where we had been sitting, they came back around for the second time. I did another video and zoomed out to get a good shot of the eastern portion of the track.

Here are a few photos that Susan took for me during the day, before during and after the race.

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sato Car1

sato Victory

sato Victory2

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B Rahal

Dixon Press

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So congratulations to Takuma Sato and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. Going back to Portland last season, Sato has won two of the last four NTT IndyCar Series races. That’s pretty strong. This team has really made strides. Sweeping the front row was no fluke. Graham Rahal had a couple of issues and dropped back before falling out, but Sato’s car seemed to be in a class of its own. Keep an eye on him at Long Beach next weekend.

That is going to do it for us this weekend. We have a long drive back to Nashville tonight and it is still 6:45 pm as I type on Sunday night. Susan will be driving back as I type up my Random Thoughts for Monday morning. Thanks to everyone for following along this weekend.

George Phillips

3 Responses to “Sato Dominates at Barber Motorsports Park”

  1. George, I of course don’t know what your race viewing kit contains but may I suggest investing in a small compact race scanner and a set of wired ear buds . You or Susan could listen to the audio of the TV broadcast during the race and stay current with the race events. I bet it would come in handy at RA in July. You don’t need the bulky ear phones . I assume you could also “dial ” in Indy car radio broadcast on your phone ap again with ear buds and follow the broadcast. I can’t rely on the track PA system at most tracks I have attended. You can get a good set of wired buds on eBay for less than $10.00, a good basic scanner for $100.00 or so Just a thought

  2. Slight correction, he’s won two out of the last five (Portland, Sonoma, St. Pete, COTA, Barber).

    I’m with David. I’ve never owned a scanner but I do have a set of noise-cancelling headphones with a radio built in that I always take to the races so I can listen to the radio broadcast. Phone app never works because cell service tanks once the stands start filling up. I really want a scanner though, maybe Santa will bring me one this year.

  3. Also, even though there wasn’t much happening up front I found the race to be very entertaining, as Barber usually is.

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