By: Tanner Watkins
April 3, 2019 | 8:00 AM
Few drivers will be as excited as Josef Newgarden to see the INDYCAR calendar turn to April.
In seven career starts at the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama – held annually during the first half of April at Barber Motorsports Park – Newgarden has enjoyed more success than anyone. The Team Penske driver has three victories in Birmingham, four podium finishes and six top-10 runs with a total of 133 laps led.
Only two other drivers have at least two wins at the track – teammate Will Power and Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay – and only Power has led more laps at Barber.
After starting the year with a win at St. Petersburg and a runner-up result on March 24 at Circuit of the Americas, Newgarden will be looking for another Barber victory to keep the momentum rolling.
“Barber is an awesome track. There’s always a great crowd there and it’s one of my favorite tracks we travel to on the circuit,” added Newgarden.
“It also helps that we’ve had some success there in the No. 2 Fitzgerald Chevy with three wins in the last four races there. But we’re hungry for more. This season is off to a great start for our team and Barber is a track we know we can continue that momentum at.”
While Newgarden has gone back-to-back at Barber as a Team Penske driver, the Tennessee native was impressive at the southern track while racing for teams owned by Sarah Fisher and Ed Carpenter. In 2015, Newgarden claimed his first victory at Barber for CFH Racing, and that run was followed up with a podium finish for Ed Carpenter Racing in 2016.
Looking at Newgarden’s track record in recent years, the 2017 series champion’s quick start to 2019 should come as no surprise. Since joining Team Penske in 2017, Newgarden has secured podium finishes in at least two out of the first four races of each year – including this season.
Additionally, Newgarden has won one of the first three races in each season, meaning the first couple months on the calendar have yielded some of Josef’s strongest runs. In 2018, though, the championship was lost towards the middle portion of the season with three finishes outside the top-10 in a span of five races.
As the current NTT IndyCar Series points leader, Newgarden will look to continue his strong form this weekend in Alabama and cut out those finishes of 11th, 13th and 15th if possible.
“We want to win races, but if we can’t win races, we need to at least be on the podium to keep this championship run up,” Newgarden stated earlier this week.
With an average finish of 5.7 and three wins to his name at Barber Motorsports Park, he shouldn’t have much to worry about – at least for this week.
Header image by Christopher Owens/INDYCAR.