Photo: Justin R. Noe/ASP, Inc.

Gloomy Grand Prix for Kimball and Power at Birmingham

By Luis Torres, Staff Writer

Torrential rain provided damped spirits for both Charlie Kimball and Will Power, as separate incidents dashed their afternoons during Sunday’s portion of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham.

Rain was expected to plow the 2.3-mile road course without much leeway that it’ll light up, forcing the Verizon IndyCar Series to move its starting time to 3:08 p.m. EST. The brave 23 drivers accepted the daunting challenge and once the race went green after the opening lap, the action intensified.

The Grand Prix remained green until Lap 12 when Carlin Racing driver Charlie Kimball spun in Turn 17 and made contact towards the armco barrier.

Kimball coasted his right side damaged No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet, but radio communications indicated it went under anti-stall, and his car laid to rest in Turn 5.

The helpless Kimball forced IndyCar to bring out a full course caution to move his car out of the circuit, as his afternoon was over and finished 23rd, his first retirement since Texas Motor Speedway last June.

Ed Jones, who was running behind Kimball, said the lack of visibility might’ve caused contact between the two, but wasn’t certain if that was the case. Kimball felt otherwise, blaming Jones for dumping him to end his afternoon.

“I was just going through the corner and he ran into the back to me and apparently the stewards reviewed it and no action taken,” said Kimball. “I vehemently disagree with that because when you’re driving your race, especially in the wets, you got to be conscious where the other are.

“Yeah, it’s hard to see, but at the same time, that’s just a dumb move. He’s not a rookie anymore and needs to not be making rookie mistakes like that.”

Jones continued the race, but later fell out of the race due to a mechanical gremlin and wound up in 20th.

For the second time in the last three races, Power’s 2018 campaign took another steep hit.

The incident transpired right after teammate and race leader Josef Newgarden took the green flag on Lap 17, the front runners struggled on worsen track conditions, with puddles surrounding the frontstretch.

With visibility becoming obsolete, Power, who restarted in second, was quickly passed by both Sebastien Bourdais and Ryan Hunter-Reay. Consequently, his No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet hydroplaned and spun.

Power nearly collided with Hunter-Reay and hit the inside retaining wall. The left front of Power’s car sustained terminal damage as his car went to a complete stop at the exit of pit road.

A frustrated Power was vocal about the weather, citing he was disappointed the race restarted and having puddles at the wrong places.

“I couldn’t see a thing and I had one car in front of me,” said Power. “I had no control and spun. I just can’t believe they went to green on that with how bad it was with the amount of standing water. Very disappointing, but to me very dangerous.”

The accident dropped Power from eighth to tenth in the standings heading into the month of May at Indianapolis.

“It’s very frustrating, but I don’t know what you do in that situation,” said Power. “If you completely back off, someone will hit you and becomes really dangerous and if you try to keep your throttle in it, you spin like I did. It’s just a really difficult situation to be put in. Just frustrating and we’ll move on to the next one.”

Mother nature humbled the circuit, postponing the race to Monday after two red flag conditions.

Once the race resumed, Power returned to the track and gained one spot to finish 21st after Max Chilton faced mechanical problems during the pace laps.

Power completed 53 of 82 laps before retiring for good, receiving his second retirement of the season.

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From the Pacific Northwest, Luis is a University of Idaho graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Broadcasting and Digital Media. Ever since watching the 2003 Daytona 500, being involved in auto racing is all he's ever dreamed of doing. Over the years, Luis has focused on writing, video and photography ranging from Idaho athletics to auto racing with ambitions of having his work recognized.