Race Report: Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. April 26—Takuma Sato and Jack Hawksworth drove their hearts out in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama Sunday afternoon but the results won’t show that.
Starting side by side in row 10, the drivers set out to gain what they could after a tough day in qualifying. They began by gaining several spots in the opening laps. Around lap 15 of the 90-lap race, some cars began pitting early in their fuel window. However, the ABC Supply Hondas were running competitive laps and the team kept them out because they were catching the cars ahead.
That’s when the first hammer dropped.
As Will Power exited the pits on lap 19, Sato was running 11th and approaching Turn 1. Power, who didn’t see Sato or was trying to beat him to the corner—on cold tires no less—collided with Sato, damaging the nose.
“I had the collision with Will which looked like he didn’t see me when I was already committed into the turn,” said Sato afterwards. “He just came out of the pit and we were side by side and I tried to avoid him but it was not possible. He is the last guy I would want to hit out there.”
Officials penalized Power for avoidable contact, and when Power saw the replay after the race, he made a point to apologize to Sato for the incident. Debris from the accident brought out the first of two cautions and everyone pitted. Power took his drive-through-pitlane penalty after the race restarted.
Hawksworth got a good restart and began working his way through the field and moved into the top five when he didn’t pit during the second caution period [laps 34-38] for the accident between Stefano Coletti and James Jakes.
When Hawksworth pitted just past halfway (under green), he dropped back to 21st but again as stops began cycling through, he moved up to 11th. His final stop on lap 65 proved his undoing as a broken air gun resulted in an extra-long stop. The gains he’d made evaporated, and he rejoined the field in 21st which is where he finished.