Birmingham, Ala. — Josef Newgarden applauded IndyCar’s decision not to risk 16 more minutes on a treacherous, rain-soaked track, even though he could have been the biggest beneficiary.
Other drivers weren’t so happy with earlier calls.
Newgarden will remain up front at Barber Motorsports Park today for the completion of the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. Drivers got in just over 44 minutes of a scheduled 2-hour, or 90-lap, race Sunday under heavy rain that caused some cars to hydroplane and affected visibility.
The race was called before it was halfway through, and thus official.
“I was calling for us not to run and I was in the easiest situation,” Newgarden said. “I was leading the race, had the best viewpoint. We do another (16) minutes under caution and we call the thing halfway from a time standpoint, we pick up the win. It’s more advantageous for us to get it in, but I didn’t want to do that. I didn’t think conditions were right.”
The 2-hour limit of total race time will remain in place.
Newgarden started on the pole position and led the first 22 laps of a race he has won two of the past three years. The race restarted after a 37-minute delay because of the track conditions, but only got another few laps in before parking the cars again. The race was called after another 1-hour, 23-minute wait.
Sebastien Bourdais is in second, followed by two-time race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, points leader Alexander Rossi and James Hinchcliffe.
Rossi said at times he could see “absolutely nothing.” He questioned the decision to put up the green flag after the first yellow caution, and “obviously the results of that was a car hydroplaning.”
It was the first time racing in such rainy conditions with this year’s new aero kit.
“This is the first actual wet running I’ve done besides a Sunday morning warm-up,” Rossi said. “It was very bad (Sunday). I don’t know if that has to do with the generation of the car or not.”
Two-time race winner Will Power, who started in second and has won twice in Alabama, spun out on the first turn of Lap 17 and slammed into the inside wall. He said on the radio: “That’s it.”
Kyle Busch pulled away on a restart in a two-lap overtime sprint to the finish at Richmond, Virginia, Saturday night for his third consecutive NASCAR’s Cup Series victory.
Busch, who started 32nd but quickly worked his way into contention, outran Chase Elliott and teammate Denny Hamlin for his fifth career victory at Richmond Raceway, the most among active drivers. The victory is his 46th overall and came from the deepest starting spot in the field of his career. The points leader also matched Kevin Harvick’s three-race winning streak from earlier in the season.
The race went more than 350 laps with the only cautions coming after stages one and two, both won by defending race champion Joey Logano, and remained clean until Ryan Blaney and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. crashed on lap 353, bringing out the first on-track yellow.
Busch took the lead after the next caution, brought out by the smoking car of Ryan Newman, when he was running second to Truex heading onto pit road and got out first.
He also beat Hamlin and Harvick off the line on a restart with six to go, and then never let anyone contend when the race went back to green.
Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix
When: Friday, June 1, through Sunday, June 3
Where: Belle Isle
IndyCar: Dual IndyCar races on June 2 and June 3, 3:30 p.m. each day, 70 laps each.
Friday — TransAm Race 1, 4:35 p.m.
Saturday — TransAm Challenge Race, 8:45 a.m.; Super Truck Series Race 1, 10:05 a.m.
Sunday — TransAm Dash Race, 11:45 a.m.; Super Truck Series Race 2, 2:05 p.m.