Press Releases » The Mayor continues his climb to the front of the field, with a sixth-place finish
Pagenaud wins second straight Verizon IndyCar Series race in seven days
Birmingham, Alabama April 24, 2016 – Simon Pagenaud won his second straight Verizon IndyCar series race on Sunday, holding off Graham Rahal and 2015 winner Josef Newgarden to capture the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. Meanwhile, James Hinchcliffe whose inexorable climb to the front of the field continues, turned in his best result of the season with a sixth place on this hot afternoon at the Barber Motorsports Park.
On a day when tires played a huge role, another special occurrence happened at Birmingham: the entire field ran 90 laps (207 miles) without a yellow caution flag. But the story of the race was most probably Juan Pablo Montoya, the 40-year-old veteran who started 21st and dead last and finished fifth, climbing 16 places.
Hinch who fought Montoya tooth and nail for most of the second half of the race was admittedly amazed by the Columbian driver.
“He must have had an amazing stint in there somewhere,” he said. Hinch admitted that tire selection was crucial in the mid-80s weather of the U.S.southeast.
“The challenge for both drivers and their engineers was to get the settings right for the tires,” he said. The No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports entry began the race on blacks and moved up with a stunning 5.8-second first pit stop to go to sticky red Firestone tires early in the race.
That moved up Hinch to sixth from his eight-placed starting grid position and he spent most of the race battling for position near the front. He was there at race’s end, matching his previous best result at Barber Motorsports Park in 2012.
“It was a solid day. We were able to move up a couple of spots, which was obviously good. I think we struggled a little bit more than others with tire degradation and so that forced us to stop early a couple of times, which means we were saving a bit of fuel on those runs. All in all, the No. 5 Arrow Electronics car was really quick, maybe just a little rough on tires but it’s good that two weekends in a row we’ve come out with strong finishes and hopefully we can keep this momentum going through the month of May.”
The 2.38-mile permanent road course has 17 flowing turns and features 80 feet of elevation change that challenge drivers and engineers. A 45-foot-wide racing ribbon also makes it imperative for patience while setting up overtaking opportunities.
It was a clean sweep weekend for Pagenaud, who won the pole position on Saturday. As for Hinch, he qualified 8th, between Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan. (1:07.0965) at 123.406 mph. A disappointed Mayor shared his feelings late Saturday.
“It was a frustrating end to the day, to be honest. We were struggling a little bit with the reds, but I think everybody was. The track temperature was way hotter this afternoon. We were on a lap during the second round that was good enough to get us into the Firestone Fast Six and I made a little mistake in Turn 5, and it cost us the time that would’ve advanced us. I was a bit steamed after, not because we didn’t make it but because we should have made it. I think everybody probably has a story like that.”
Full race results are available on IndyCar.com.
The next race on the Verizon IndyCar schedule is the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis, which will take place on Saturday, May 14.
For more information on James Hinchcliffe, please visit www.hinchtown.com, like him on Facebook and follow @Hinchtown on Twitter and Instagram.
Off-track action — Robin Cook from Alabaster, Alabama was the winner of this weekend’s #HinchtownHMD scavenger hunt. Held in collaboration with IndyCar, this social media scavenger hunt sees an exclusive “Coin” for each race hidden around the track on race day. Photo clues of the location are presented on James Hinchcliffe’s Instagram, Facebook and Twitter account. The finder of the Coin Drop can then take their coin to the Indycar Merchandise Tent where they are presented with a prize pack!
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