The remainder of the Verizon IndyCar Series Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama has been postponed to Monday due to untenable track conditions caused by persistent heavy rain, wind and darkness.
Josef Newgarden has led all 22 laps. The race will resume at noon ET/11 a.m. CT (pre-race at 11:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN). The race is scheduled for 90 laps or two hours, whichever comes first. When lead-lap cars cross the start/finish line for Monday’s resumption, 23 laps will be complete and about 75 minutes will remain on the race clock.
Teams can choose to restart on either the Firestone primary or alternate dry-condition tire compound unless INDYCAR declares a wet-weather restart, in which case the rain tires must be used. Teams may also choose the quantity of fuel in the car for the restart.
The race got underway 35 minutes earlier than originally scheduled because of the weather and started under the caution, going green on lap 2. On lap 3 Marco Andretti, who had been chasing teammate Alexander Rossi, spun going downhill in the museum corner, dropping him to 21st but only bringing out a local yellow.
Newgarden opened up a four-second lead while the rest of the field did their best to try and see the track around them.
By lap 9 Power cut the gap to 2.3 seconds, and while the drivers mostly stayed on track drivers began communicating that visor fog prevented them from seeing much of anything.
Charlie Kimball brought out a full-course caution on lap 12 after contact with Ed Jones broke his front wing and his car went into anti-stall mode at Turn 6.
The leaders chose not to pit, and under caution several drivers radioed that streams from Turn 1 into Turn 2 could cause issues on the next restart.
So when the green came out on lap 17, Newgarden drove into a puddle and made a great save, but immediately behind him his teammate Will Power hit the throttle, hydroplaned and spun, hitting the pit wall but narrowly missing Ryan Hunter-Reay.
A red flag was shown on lap 19.
“I couldn’t see a thing, and I had one car in front of me,” a dejected Power told NBC Sports. “I just aquaplaned, just spun. I just can’t believe they went green on that, how bad it was with the amount of standing water. Very disappointing but to me very dangerous.
“You could see it was getting really bad. I kept saying to Roger I can’t see a thing in front of like the lap before, I can’t even see my hand in front of my face.
“I don’t know what you do in that situation because if you completely back off you get hit from behind, and if you try to keep throttle in it, like I did, you spin.”
“With the new car the underwing is pretty powerful, it’s just throwing water absolutely everywhere,” Graham Rahal told the NBC Sports booth. “I think the Firestone rain tires have done a good job and the car seems to be half decent, just gotta keep it safe. I’m not kidding you, on the front straight I can’t see my own nose cone.”
Newgarden told NBC Sports’ Townsend Bell that Barber’s elevation changes created the rivers that led to the restart mess.
“It was manageable at the beginning, and then towards the end before we got to that [lap 12] caution, it started getting worse, and you started noticing more pooling water, getting wheel spin on the front stretch,” he explained. “And then that caution it just got really bad, everything started pooling in. … Unfortunately what you get at a track like this with a bunch of elevation, one of the coolest tracks you can come to to race at and watch, but it just gets very difficult when you get a lot of rain.”
After a 37-minute red flag the race restarted under caution, ran five laps before the second red flag was thrown for track conditions, rain and wind at 3:27 p.m. local time.
IndyCar officials postponed the rest of the race just before 5 p.m. CT.
“I love racing in the rain and I love this track but we couldn’t see and it was just impossible conditions,” said Newgarden.
Sebastien Bourdais holds second place, Hunter-Reay third, Alexander Rossi fourth and James Hinchcliffe sat fifth as the cars were stopped on pit road.