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4. 2016 Grand Prix of Alabama, Barber Motorsports Park, Birmingham, Alabama
Race Winner: Simon Pagenaud
The race at Barber seems to get better and better every year. Even without a single caution flag period this year to mix up some pit strategies, this race did not disappoint. It is very unusual to have a race won by nearly 14 seconds be such an exciting one, but the reality is that this race was much, much closer than that. Graham Rahal and Simon Pagenaud battled it out wheel to wheel for the victory with just a few laps to go in the race. Simon Pagenaud appeared to block Rahal when Rahal tried to pass him for the lead, but this resulted in Rahal nudging Pagenaud into the gravel to give Rahal the lead. As Pagenaud tried to pass Rahal later in the race, Rahal tried to get around the lapped car of Jack Hawksworth to avoid being pinned behind him as Pagenaud tried getting around Rahal, and Rahal broke his front wing in doing so. This sent Rahal off course into the gravel, and he was off pace for the remaining 4+ laps of the race due to losing his front wing. Pagenaud passed Rahal soon after Rahal’s contact with Hawksworth and pulled away from him to take the race victory.
3. 2016 ABC Supply 500, Pocono Raceway, Long Pong, Pennsylvania
Race Winner: Will Power
Pocono Raceway is once again becoming a signature venue for a race on the IndyCar Series’ schedule, and this race further proved that it belongs. This race was postponed by one day due to rain on its scheduled date. Ryan Hunter-Reay started in last place in the race due to not being able to qualify because of a wreck in practice, but he worked his way up to the lead towards the middle of the race. He then lost power in his car and went a lap down, but he worked his way back up to a 3rd place finish in one of the most impressive drivers any IndyCar driver has ever done. Not only that, but he did it in a backup race car. Will Power won the race after the lead of the race was exchanged 31 times. The Chevrolet-powered cars and Honda-powered cars were very competitive with one another throughout the race.
2. 2016 Indianapolis 500, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Speedway, Indiana
Race Winner: Alexander Rossi
Alexander Rossi came out of nowhere at the end of the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 to win the race after going a stunning 36 laps on his final tank of fuel. With a 15+ second lead over the hard-charging cars of Carlos Munoz and Josef Newgarden, who had just made their final pit stops of the race, Rossi was able to keep his car going, albeit at an extremely slow pace, so that he did not run out of fuel leading the Indianapolis 500 on the final lap. In a race that featured a season-high 54 lead changes and figured to end in a shootout, Rossi won the race by a margin of victory of over 4 seconds after conserving his final drops of fuel to hang on to the lead. He ended up running out of fuel on his victory lap. The 54 lead changes in this race rank 2nd all-time in Indianapolis 500 history behind the 68 lead changed in the 2013 race.
1. 2016 Firestone 600, Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth, Texas
Race Winner: Graham Rahal
This race will probably go down as one of the greatest in IndyCar history, and for a plethora of reasons. First off, the race spanned a total of 77 days (11 weeks); it began on Sunday, June 12th, after being rained out from the night before. Only 71 of the 248 scheduled laps were run that Sunday before the rains came again, which forced IndyCar to reschedule the remainder of the race for the night of Saturday, August 27th. Secondly, James Hinchcliffe, who was leading the race as it was postponed in June, dominated much of the continuation of the race, at times with a lead of over 10 seconds on 2nd place. But a few late cautions caused the field to be packed up. With 5 drivers on the lead lap, the racing at the front of the field was intense. Hinchcliffe, Graham Rahal, Tony Kanaan, and Simon Pagenaud went 4-wide at some points on the track with just a few laps to go. On the last lap, Graham Rahal made an over-under pass on Hinchcliffe to win the race by 0.0080 seconds, the 5th closest margin in IndyCar history and closest finish ever at Texas Motor Speedway. He led only 1 lap compared to 188 laps led by Hinchcliffe. Although the race only featured 14 official lead changes, the cars at the front towards the end of the race seemed to be nosing ahead of the others every split second. The drivers themselves called this racing at the end of the race some of the best that they had ever seen or done.