Alabama Grand Prix Colton Herta Raced his Tires off by lap 20
(PHOTO: Toby Sowery -Firestone Grand Prix of Alabama - By: Karl Zemlin)
There was a very solid battle for the lead of the Alabama Grand Prix between pole Romain Grosjean and Alex Palou. NBC replay showed Felix Rosenqvist banging wheels with Josef Newgarden and spinning the No. 6 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet on the opening lap.
By lap 19, there was drama with two drivers knocking tires, and then as Colton Herta was showing signs of running his tires off- and dropping back in the field.
"Colton Herta was begging to come in for new tires, announcers said. That was about the time Josef Newgarden had clean air was showing signs of moving up from his start position of 7th.
The start was not as dramatic at this race as it was last year- but there was some drama.
Barber Motorsports is having its 2oth year of professional racing, on Sunday's showing of force at the Alabama Grand Prix, at the first permanent road course of the series. Drivers Romain Grosjean and Alex Palou started on the front row.
"Im excited for the racing, " Grosjean said in his pre-race interview.
Pado OWard, starting third, defending champion of Alabama Grand Priz from 2022, told reporters that he thought that winning at Barber all came down to how fast people can pass other drivers there.
O'Ward and Grosjean are both considered 'firey' drivers. Grosjean's finish at Longbeach GrandPix showed race announcers that he has learned to be a bit more measured in 2023, giving strategists a new way to see his skill level speculating that he has matured a bit this year and is ready for a big win.
Barber had the largest crowd they have had in ten years, showing a growing fan base and increased interest in the sport, which is likely due to a major effort by NTT Indy Car.
Kyle Kirkwood, the most recent winner from Long Beach, told reporters that while he missed the pole position, he felt he was set up with the best car he has had so far.
27 drivers started the race on the first lap And Scott Dixon made an early move forward from 5th place to 4th place.
Sports announcers talked about the growing frustration between Pado OWard and Scott McClaughlin, which started at Long Beach when O'Ward bumped tires with McClaughling and led to what ended up forcing McCalughlin out of the race.
One announcer said O'Ward had tried to 'hug it out" with McLaughlin after the race, who rejected the gesture and said he wasn't OK with OWard's move.
Race officials had said that the move O'War laid on McClaughling was "hard racing".
Lap 15 it was Grosjean, Palou and Oward. 1, 2 and 3rd place. Lap 20 Colton Herta was told to lay back and not drive so hard on his tires.
"These fucking reds are dead." "10-4, 10-4." Herta was heard on the pit wall radio.
Herta fell back to 9 on 23. The announcer reported that the strategist wanted him to get to lap 30 on them.
Lap 30 was projected to be an exciting time:
OWard was down to 10th by lap 30. Christian Lundgaard got by Dixon with the Newgarden-patented pass. It was an impressive move for 10th.
Josef NewGarden had the lead by lap 33. Grosjean was at 7th. Drivers were coming into the pits for "Freshies" which is new tires.. for regular people. Sting Ray Robb stalled out and there was a Yellow and restart lap 42.
Grosjean led and McLaughlin was in 2nd, leading to a long battle for Grosjean to hang on to his lead.