Well, it wasn’t in the exact order I predicted, but I was right for the most part. Barber, while being a great track to drive with its sweeping, flowing corners, proved once again, that it’s really not that great of a track for IndyCars. Passes were few and far between, as this race was largely decided by pit strategy and who could push the hardest on the undercut/overcut.
Yes, Penske came back, and they came back strong, locking down 3 of the top 6 positions in qualifying and bringing Chevy back to the top step of the podium. And good on Josef Newgarden for being the first Chevy driver to win this season. Newgarden has always been a bright young talent, even from back in his days of racing at Sarah Fisher Racing, so it’s good to see him start to make a legitimate run towards the title with one of the biggest teams on the grid.
Pagneaud too was able to put in a good run, taking advantage of the Penske Chevy’s aerodynamic advantage on the twisting Barber circuit.
With Scott Dixon ending up P2, this race looked a lot like the 2016 campaign, which is not necessarily a good thing: Chevy dominating the race, a lone Ganassi Honda making a decent run, and everybody else looking like they simply didn’t have it in them to compete with the sports two biggest teams.
That said, it was a decent day for the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Dale Coyne Racing. Yes, it would have been preferable for both James Hinchcliffe and Sebastian Bourdais to reach the podium, but ending up best of the rest behind the boys from Penske who clearly had an advantage, was nothing to shake a stick at.
But, obviously, the real standout from the rest of the field was the understated, yet well deserved 5th place brought in by Andretti Auto driver Alexander Rossi. After a throughly disappointing quadruple DNF in Long Beach, a 5th place is a welcome sight for Andretti who have to be hoping that their pace will improve when the series gets back to its roots on ovals.