- Power wins Honda sponsor event
- Honda pleased with Birmingham event & attendance
Power Prevails at the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama
Team Penske's Will Power led the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama from start to finish Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park, but his first IZOD IndyCar Series victory of 2011 was no walk in the park as he was hounded throughout the 90-lap run by Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon, who finished second.
Barber Motorsports Park is a beautiful facility, and it was encouraging to see such a large crowd gather here for the first year of Honda's title sponsorship of this event.
Starting from the pole, Power led the field into the first corner and - critically - also led on each of today's six restarts as contact between cars, most often taking place in the Turn 5-6 complex at the end of the second straight, eliminated six of today's 26 race starters.
Prior to the start, Andy Allen of Bartlett, Tennessee, received the Honda Racing/HPD Dependability Award for his 2005 Honda Accord, which now has 211,500 miles - and counting. The award was presented to Allen by Chuck Ernst, Senior Vice President, Honda Manufacturing of Alabama. In 2010, the Honda Indy V-8 engines used by the full field in the IZOD IndyCar Series tallied a total of 222,278 miles without a single in-race failure, an unrivaled feat in motorsports. The Honda Racing/HPD Dependability Award celebrates similar achievements of Honda owners, like Mr. Allen, in the Honda Mile Makers Club.
In addition, continuing a five-year tradition of equality and reliability, all 26 Honda-powered drivers and teams completed the race weekend without a single failure of the Honda Indy V-8 engine. This weekend, the teams logged a total of 8,717 trouble-free miles.
Behind the lead pair, defending series champion Dario Franchitti finished third, unable to challenge the leaders but safely ahead of fourth-finishing Marco Andretti. For the second race in a row in this young season, a highlight of today's race was the charge of veteran Tony Kanaan, who finished sixth after starting near the back of the field in 24th.
Simon Pagenaud, substituting for the injured Ana Beatriz at Dreyer and Reinbold Racing, also made an impressive IZOD IndyCar Series debut. The American Le Mans Series champion for Highcroft Racing and HPD started 23rd, but avoided the many incidents in the race and steadily climbed to an eighth-place finish.
The IZOD IndyCar Series now goes cross-country, continuing next week with the April 17 Grand Prix of Long Beach in Southern California.
Will Power (#12 Team Penske Honda) started 1st, finished 1st, first win of 2011 and his ninth career victory : "It was an awesome day, I'm very happy. The restarts were the key to the race today. I had to get the jump on Scott [Dixon] every time and we were able to do it. This is the second [full] year we've been together as a team, and I feel like we're much more solid, but still improving all the time. We need to be better on the ovals this year, and we will be. We want to win the championship."
Scott Dixon (#9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) started 3rd, finished 2nd: "Let's just say Will [Power] was 'determined' today. I was pretty much on the grass on some of those restarts! But at the end of the day, I think he just had a better balance and more speed on old tires, and that was the difference, especially at the end of the race. We came up a bit short of a win today, but it still was a great result for the entire Ganassi team and this championship still has a long way to go."
Tony Kanaan (#82 KV Racing Technology Honda) started 24th, finished 6th: "This was a great race for us. After starting near the back of the field, a top-six finish is good for us. This team is still all-new to me, and we have a lot of work to do, but it was an excellent effort today from the entire team, and we can build on this for the rest of the year."
Erik Berkman (President, Honda Performance Development) on today's race: "Barber Motorsports Park is a beautiful facility, and it was encouraging to see such a large crowd gather here for the first year of Honda's title sponsorship of this event. Just as at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg two weeks ago, the crowd was rewarded with exciting contests throughout the field. Congratulations to Will Power and Team Penske on their first win of 2011, and yet another perfect weekend for the Honda Indy V-8 engine. This already appears to be shaping up as a classic season of IndyCar competition."