A proper motor race – IndyCar shows F1 how it’s done with Barber classic

A wide variety of strategies, lots of passes and incidents aplenty kept viewers enthralled from start to finish

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You don’t get many ‘classic’ races in motorsport these days but IndyCar reminded the world how it’s done at the stunning Barber Motorsport Park as Scott McLaughlin stormed to victory at the 2024 Grand Prix of Alabama.

From the very first lap to the last, the Grand Prix of Alabama was jam-packed with overtakes – on a track where it’s not always the simplest task – collisions and multiple strategies converging in the closing stages.

Among all the action, McLaughlin made the three-stopper work thanks to some extraordinary speed as the Kiwi converted pole into victory, his second in Alabama in as many years.

It looked like his strategy could have failed him as the two-stoppers made good mileage but cautions at the right times aided his bold but rapid plan, leading his Team Penske teammate Will Power home.

“We know our job, we know what we need to do, I’m just super proud of the execution,” McLaughlin said after the race.  “A couple of yellows didn’t fall our way, but we just showed our pace and [I’m] super proud of everyone and just keep rolling, just execution, execution that’s out word and just keep going.

“I knew our pace, and I knew we can control it. Obviously you got to make sure that you don’t make a mistake with a guy like Will [Power] behind you and he’s always going to push hard. I knew we had some pace and we could cover him when we needed to.

“It’s definitely one of my best drivers in terms of execution and just knocking out the laps and really happy we got advanced in the chequered flag there and bring home a W for Team Penske and for Roger [Penske].”

Some of the series’ biggest names had incidents that thwarted their races, including previous points leader Scott Dixon, eventual St Petersburg winner Pato O’Ward and Josef Newgarden.

Through all of the chaos, Chip Ganassi Racing rookie Linus Lundqvist starred on his way to a stunning podium, passing his double championship-winning teammate Alex Palou for the final spot on the rostrum.

There will be plenty of drivers wondering what could have been after the chequered flag but for us fans, it was a sensational race to take us into May.

Off track drama

IndyCar was arguably the talk of the motorsport world during the week after the series dropped the bombshell disqualifications of Newgarden and McLaughlin from the St Petersburg season opener which the former had won with ease.

A glitch in software during the Long Beach weekend revealed that Team Penske could still use push to pass when it was supposed to be disabled and that prompted stewards to review the season opener, finding the former ‘Bus Bros’ had used the aid during restarts.

They were both disqualified as a result while Power was deducted 10 points because he did not use it illegally like his teammates had.

The questions and conspiracies this incident has created does at least thrust IndyCar into the spotlight but not necessarily for the reasons Roger Penske wants as the owner of the team and the championship as a whole.

Newgarden was visibly subdued all weekend having been stripped of victory and even hosted his own special press conference to address the situation but none of it helped to regain the trust or respect of Penske’s rivals.

Heading into the month of May, the Penske corporation and IndyCar has a lot to answer for with the biggest race of the year less than a month away.

IndyCar Grand Prix of Alabama 2024 Results

Scott McLaughlin secured a commanding victory, leading the majority of the race and after a late caution, finished with a gap of over one second ahead of his closest rival, Will Power. Linus Lundqvist, who started back in 19th position, demonstrated remarkable progress to claim third spot on the podium.

PosNameTeam
1Scott McLaughlinTeam Penske
2Will PowerTeam Penske
3Linus LundqvistChip Ganassi Racing
4Felix RosenqvistMeyer Shank Racing
5Alex PalouChip Ganassi Racing
6Christian LundgaardRahal Letterman Lanigan
7Santino FerrucciA.J. Foyt Racing
8Colton HertaAndretti Global
9Marcus ArmstrongChip Ganassi Racing
10Kyle KirkwoodAndretti Global
Joe Ellis
Joe Ellis is a motorsport journalist with experience working in BTCC. He is the resident IndyCar correspondent for Total-Motorsport.com and a top class F1 writer.
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