Round 03 Alabama

  • Sato Reigns Supreme at Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama

    Takuma Sato dominated the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, with the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver starting from the pole and leading 74 of 90 laps at Barber Motorsports Park to claim his fourth career IndyCar Series Victory.


Report

Sato Reigns Supreme at Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama

Alabama, April 07, 2019

  • Takuma Sato dominates at Barber Motorsports Park
  • Honda drivers sweep victory podium with Scott Dixon second, Sebastien Bourdais third
  • Second Honda NTT IndyCar Series victory in three races

 

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (April 7, 2019) – Takuma Sato dominated today’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, with the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver starting from the pole and leading 74 of 90 laps at Barber Motorsports Park to claim his fourth career IndyCar Series Victory.  The win is the second for Honda in the opening three races of the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series championship, and vaults Sato to third in the drivers’ championship standings.

What started as a contest of strategy – with several teams electing to complete the race on just two pit stops versus the usual three – became a more straightforward race to the finish following a caution flag on Lap 60, when Max Chilton went off course at the pit entrance and made contact with the safety barrier.

But no matter the strategy, Sato was in command through most of the day after starting from the pole for the eighth time in his career.  At 42, Sato is the second-oldest series regular competing in the 2019 season, and his win comes just two weeks after fellow Honda driver Colton Herta became the youngest winner in series history (aged 18), at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, TX.

Behind the leader, Sebastien Bourdais – the quickest of the two-stoppers – battled Scott Dixon for second, with the duel becoming particularly intense in the final 10 laps.  At the checkers, it was Dixon finishing second at Barber for the sixth time in 10 races here, and moving up to second in the drivers’ title chase.  Bourdais, meanwhile, completed a 1-2-3 sweep of the podium for Honda drivers and teams.

Running well in the closing laps, Alexander Rossi edged fellow Honda driver James Hinchcliffe for fifth at the checkers. Hinchcliffe’s Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammate, Marcus Ericsson, claimed seventh just ahead of Rossi’s Andretti Autosport teammate, Ryan Hunter-Reay.  Felix Rosenqvist rounded out the top 10 in his Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, giving the manufacturer eight of the top 10 finishing positions.

The NTT IndyCar Series now heads directly to Southern California for next weekend’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.  The fourth round of the 17-race championship will be televised live on the NBC Sports Network, April 14, starting at 4 p.m. EDT.

Comments

Takuma Sato (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing) Started first, finished first, fourth career Indy car win, first victory of 2019:

“This is for the team, for their fantastic effort.  Our car was superb, you know. I mean, red tire, black tire, I never had to worry about anything. So full credit to the team.  It's a great result. A really big ‘thank you’ to Bobby [Rahal] and Mike Lanigan to make this possible for me. And big ‘thank you’ to Graham Rahal.  He found a very good setup and I installed it on my car as well. We were working so closely together. I mean today, either of us was going to be competitive. It was very unfortunate what happened to him [Rahal did not finish due to an electrical issue], but this is great for the team.”

Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) Started fourth, finished second:

“We had a lot of tire degradation [speed falling off as tires wear during a run]. We started off where we could push really hard and be really quick and close the gap [to leader Takuma Sato], early on in the race. But the last 10 laps were just miserable. On that last run, I just tried to hold a steady gap to Sato, and from there, I have to thank the team. The PNC Bank guys were very strong in the pits and we jumped Sebastien [Bourdais] in the pits. He drove a hell of a race and went really far on that first stint.  Bourdais was good on tire degradation. Another second [place finish at Barber], and now second in points. Hopefully, we can try and get a win here one day.”

Ted Klaus (President, Honda Performance Development) on today’s race win and podium sweep for Honda, his first race as president of HPD:

“What was special this weekend, to my eyes, was just how difficult this series is – even for these pinnacle-level teams.  Every race circuit offers its own challenges, but it’s encouraging to see the capabilities from all of our teams and drivers.  It was a dominant weekend for our entire IndyCar Series program, after several challenging years here.  It’s always extra sweet to win at a Honda-sponsored event, and I love how Honda Manufacturing of Alabama [a manufacturing facility located in nearby Lincoln, AL] has embraced this event. We’re proud to be the title sponsor of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, and to support HMA’s efforts.  All of us at Honda will go home with our heads held high tonight, but the celebration will be brief, as it will be time to do it all over again next weekend at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.”

Results

IndyCar Series 2019
Round 03: Alabama Race

Rank Driver (Team)
1 Takuma Sato (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing)
2 Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing)
3 Sebastien Bourdais (Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan)
4 Josef Newgarden (Team Penske)
5 Alexander Rossi (Andretti Autosport)
6 James Hinchcliffe (Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports)
7 Marcus Ericsson (Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports)
8 Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Autosport)
9 Simon Pagenaud (Team Penske)
10 Felix Rosenqvist (Chip Ganassi Racing)
12 Zach Veach (Andretti Autosport)
13 Jack Harvey (Meyer Shank Racing with Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports)
14 Marco Andretti (Andretti Herta With Marco & Curb-Agajanian)
15 Santino Ferrucci (Dale Coyne Racing)
23 Graham Rahal (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing)
24 Colton Herta (Harding Steinbrenner Racing)

Photos