Race reviewindycar_R4_Apr.30.2023Children’s of Alabama Indy Grand Prix
A 2.3-mile permanent road course in Birmingham, Alabama. A compact circuit that features flowing turns and a number of elevations, while the narrow circuit width – only 45 feet – means drivers need to plan overtaking maneuvers carefully.
Race start: 15.00 ET.
Birmingham, Alabama April 30, 2023
The Children’s of Alabama Grand Prix returned a pair of positive results for Juncos Hollinger Racing today, as Callum Ilott completed a late charge through the NTT INDYCAR field to secure P13 and team-mate Agustín Canapino finished his first road course race in P26.
Racing in pristine sunshine at Barber Motorsports Park, Callum lined up on the grid in P15, while Agustín started in P22.
Both men were determined to convert a challenging qualifying session into a positive Sunday and moved forward during the early exchanges of the 90-lap race.
A first wave of pit stops for Callum and Agustín came at one-third distance, with both opting to swap their red-walled Firestone soft tires for harder primaries. It would prove to be the first visit to the pits in a three-stop strategy for both drivers.
Both men bolted another set of black-walled tires onto their cars during a full track caution at mid-distance, before a final dash to the flag was preceded by a third stop with 25 laps to run. While Agustín stuck to a harder compound, Callum opted to go back onto the softs.
With stickier rubber at his disposal, the Briton was one of the fastest drivers on track and began a valiant surge through the field. He made up 11 places in the closing stages to finish P13 as the checkered flag dropped.
Agustín meanwhile, reached the end of the race in P26 after another assured performance that brought valuable learning and experience for the Argentine driver.
Today’s results have moved Callum up to P12 in the INDYCAR driver standings on 80 points, while Agustín is P18 on 47 points.
“We were P24 for a time but then the car came alive after the final pit stop and we managed to pull it back to P13”
Callum Ilott said:
“We were struggling quite a bit for a while as we took a gamble in the middle to try and overcut some people. But it wasn’t working. We were P24 for a time but then the car came alive after the final pit stop and we managed to pull it back to P13.
“It was a good effort, so we’re really happy with that. This result gets us moving forward again and it comes at a good time with the Indy road course up next – that’s another track that’s quite good for us.”
“I’m still really happy to finish this race and get some more valuable laps and experience that will enable me to continue my improvement”
Agustín Canapino said:
“We finished P26 in the end. It was a shame that we lost some places with the pit stop on the strategy but that’s part of racing sometimes. I’m still really happy to finish this race and get some more valuable laps and experience that will enable me to continue my improvement.”
“We came to Alabama with a lot of things to fix inside the team after Long Beach and we’ve done that”
Ricardo Juncos said:
“We’ve finished the race weekend great. We came to Alabama with a lot of things to fix inside the team after Long Beach and we’ve done that. As a team owner, that’s what I’m happy to see. Everyone in the team did a great job.
“Callum showed the talent he has and was flying in the last stint of the race coming through to P13. He made zero mistakes and was putting a quali lap performance in for each of the final laps. It was amazing to see.
“Agustin was here for the first time and he saw the checkered flag after being fast and consistent. He caught the last 10 cars in front of him but passing here is tough because everyone’s defending with ‘push to pass’.
“Overall, there’s been lots of positives for the team this weekend and we’re looking forward to the month of May and the Indy GP which is next.”
The INDY NXT by Firestone Grand Prix of Alabama was a short-lived race for both Juncos Hollinger Racing drivers, as Reece Gold retired early with a clutch issue and Matteo Nannini exited after suffering contact.
Reece started the race in P7, hoping for an audacious performance to replicate his Indy Pro 2000 Championship win at Barber Motorsports Park last season, while Matteo lined up on the sixth row in P12.
Matteo made good progress in the early laps to move up to P10, while Reece remained in contention despite conceding a position.
However, Reece was soon forced to nurse his car back to the pit lane due to clutch issues. Matteo retired on lap 13 after tangling with a rival on the exit of the final corner.
“I was managing the race, nothing too crazy, but also I had more speed than the cars in front. It’s a pity to lose a race like this”
Matteo Nannini said:
“I was managing the race, nothing too crazy, but also I had more speed than the cars in front. It’s a pity to lose a race like this. There have been struggles through the weekend, but we will try our best to improve and I saw in the race that we were making progress. Now, we will just focus on Indianapolis.”
“It was not the best weekend overall, but we had a decent run in P8 and were looking good for points”
Reece Gold said:
“It was an unfortunate end here at round two. I had an issue with the clutch. It was not the best weekend overall, but we had a decent run in P8 and were looking good for points. It’s just a shame to end it like this.”