Alabama Not a Red State for Tagliani
Canadian Finishes 15th After Recovering From a Spin
Date: April 10, 2011
Event: Honda Grand Prix of Alabama (Round 2 of 17)
Series: IZOD IndyCar Series
Location: Barber Motorsports Park in Leeds, Ala. (2.3-mile, 17-turn road course)
Start/Finish: 12th/15th (Running, completed 90 of 90 laps)
Winner: Will Power of Team Penske
Sam Schmidt Motorsports (SSM) driver Alex Tagliani was not making a political statement when he said he couldn’t get the ‘reds’ to work with him during the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama in Leeds, Ala., on Sunday, April 10, 2011. Tagliani was referencing the red alternate Firestone Firehawk tires, one of two tire compounds Firestone provides to teams of the IZOD IndyCar Series for road course races.
The Canadian struggled with the handling of the No. 77 Bowers &Wilkins Dallara/Honda/Firestone Indy car through most of the 90-lap race before finishing in 15th place.
Tagliani’s race started aggressively and successfully, seeing him gain two positions on the first lap and two more positions on a lap 3 restart. Though he radioed to his crew early that he had developed a push, Tagliani quickly settled in to a steady pace while running in eighth place. A strong finish looked possible for the SSM team.
A chance at another top 10 finish to match his season-opening sixth place finish in St. Petersburg two weeks ago, however, dissolved after Tagliani spun in turn 16, seven laps into his second set of tires.
“We had our share of issues during the race, but I feel really sorry about the spin,” said a dejected Tagliani after climbing from his car on pit lane. “I don’t know what happened. I just lost the back end going into turn 16. I was doing the same as usual and the back end just snapped out on me, and I couldn’t recover it. It was unfortunate, but we were really struggling on the reds, to keep the life in the reds. When we put on the blacks, the car was still a bit loose, so we put the reds on again, and again we went through the life of the reds and destroyed the fronts. I don’t know where we could have finished, but I feel bad. I feel sorry, but we have to turn the page and do it again in Long Beach.”
SSM IndyCar Team Manager Rob Edwards, though disappointed with the team’s performance in Alabama, tried to find a silver lining by putting the day in perspective.
“The good news is we’ve got another full distance under our belts, the car is in one piece, and we go to Long Beach next week, which has always been a good track for Alex” said Edwards. “The more we work together, the stronger we get. It was just one of those days. We were on track with the strategy we were running, but once you lose a lap and move yourself to the back of the pack, you tear up the playbook at that point and start seeing what you can invent. We were able to get ourselves back on the lead lap, but we couldn’t do much from there.”
Will Power and his Team Penske Dallara dominated the race leading all 90 laps and earning Team Penske back-to-back wins at Barber Motorsports Park. Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves won the 2010 Barber race for Roger Penske’s team. Rounding out the top five were Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, Marco Andretti and Oriol Servia.
Tony Kanaan came from the 24th starting position to finish sixth. Castroneves, rookie Simon Pagenaud, Simona De Silvestro and rookie Charlie Kimball completed the top 10.
Power’s margin of victory was 3.3828 seconds over Dixon. There were six caution periods for a total of 20 laps.
The IZOD IndyCar Series races next week on the streets of Long Beach, Calif., in the 37th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday, April 17. The race will be televised live on VERSUS beginning at 3:30 p.m. EDT.