Archive for the IndyCar Category

Is This Finally Honda’s Year?

Posted in IndyCar on March 21, 2018 by Oilpressure

Last week after the season-opening race at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, I got a text from my brother asking me why Team Penske showed so poorly. I was in a hurry and didn’t have time to explain that their results weren’t really that bad. Josef Newgarden finished seventh, Will Power was tenth and Simon Pagenaud finished thirteenth. But when your team is used to competing for wins and championships, I guess those results were a little disappointing.

But since I was in a hurry, my response to him contained only two words – Chevy engine.

Chevy only placed two cars in the Top-Ten – the cars of Newgarden and Power. The first six cars to take the checkered flag were all Hondas, as were eight of the Top-ten.

But is it really that simple? Is Chevy doomed this season now that the aero kit playing field has been leveled with the unified body? Maybe. Maybe not.

A look at last year’s opening race at St. Petersburg shows that the results were similar to this year. Sébastien Bourdais won both races in a Honda-powered car. This year, Honda had eight of the Top-Ten, last year it was seven.

After a couple of years when Honda had almost become a punchline due to their lack of results, winning the opening race of the season caused everyone to throw their hands up in celebration because they just assumed that Honda was back.

Honda won the next race at Long Beach with James Hinchcliffe, and Bourdais finished a strong second; but Chevy had six of the Top-Ten and you had a feeling they weren’t going away that easily. At Barber, Chevy won their first race of the season when Josef Newgarden took over the lead from Will Power when Power had a tire puncture late in the race. Team Penske Chevys finished first, third and fourth. But the next Chevy found on the score sheet was the wounded car of Will Power, all the way down in fourteenth. Though Chevy dominated the podium, Honda had most of the top cars in the race. One could go nuts trying to decipher who had the upper hand.

Things got even crazier at Phoenix. Not only did Chevy win with Simon Pagenaud claiming the honors, but the bow-tie manufacturer swept the podium, had the top four cars and seven of the Top-Ten. The highest placing Honda was that of Scott Dixon, who was fifth, one lap down and never really a factor.

Heading into the Month of May, it was hard to get a handle on which manufacturer had the upper hand. But one thing was becoming apparent – Honda was having engine failures, while Chevy wasn’t. It was widely suspected that Honda was turning up the wick and risking reliability for horsepower. If that was the case, things could literally blow up in their face in the Indianapolis 500.

As expected, there were multiple engine failures at Indianapolis – in practice and during the race – and they were almost all Hondas. But Honda had more of the top teams and the odds won with Takuma Sato winning in a Honda-powered car, their third win in four races in the “500”. Honda won three of the next four races, but Chevy went on a tear in the latter part of the season, allowing Honda to win only once more after Road America in June – and that was the penultimate race at Watkins Glen in September. Chevy swept the months of July and August and took the championship with Josef Newgarden. The final tally for the 2017 season was ten wins for Chevy, and seven for Honda.

Once again we are starting the season with Honda looking strong after one race and lots of people have already buried Chevy, now that all teams have the same car. It looks like the math is on Hondas side. Honda has the better teams and more of them. Honda has Ganassi, Andretti, Schmidt, Rahal and Coyne. The only premier team that Chevy has is Team Penske. AJ Foyt and Ed Carpenter might argue about that, but clearly – Chevys hopes are pinned to Team Penske. If Penske struggles this season, you can bet that Chevy will too.

So are the prognosticators right after one race? Should Chevy be considered dead and buried? Did the Honda aero kit hamper Honda’s efforts that much the last three seasons? Time will tell. I think that Chevy will win its share of races this season. I think there are some tracks like Phoenix that favors the Chevy engine more than Honda. I am not a gearhead, so I can’t tell you why that is – but those smarter than I am say it is.

But whether or not Chevy can rattle off enough wins to win Team Penske (or Foyt or Carpenter) a championship remains to be seen. Can Honda finally win its first Verizon IndyCar Series championship since 2013? Stay tuned.

George Phillips


A Chance To Own A Piece Of History

Posted in IndyCar on March 19, 2018 by Oilpressure

It used to be that whenever sports facilities made upgrades or changes to their venue, they would just toss the old stuff out because it was considered to be, well…junk. Then somewhere along the way, someone much smarter than I am figured out that fans would pay a pretty penny to add the “junk” to their sports memorabilia collection.

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Working Through The Growing Pains

Posted in IndyCar on March 16, 2018 by Oilpressure

When the Verizon IndyCar Series kicked off its season this past weekend, there were four new teams represented on the grid. I’m not sure when the last time that many new teams have started a season, but I’m going to guess it was the unification of 2008 when Dale Coyne Racing, KV Racing, Newman/Haas, HVM and Conquest Racing all came over from Champ Car.

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Taking The Bad With The Good

Posted in IndyCar on March 14, 2018 by Oilpressure

With the good, you must take the bad. The good was that the Verizon IndyCar Series got the 2018 season underway in strong fashion this past weekend. The bad? With the start of the IndyCar season comes another edition of One Take Only.

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Random Thoughts On St. Petersburg

Posted in IndyCar on March 12, 2018 by Oilpressure

After much buildup about how interesting the new unified body kit for the Verizon IndyCar Series was going to make things, my hope was that the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg would not end up being a parade. After all, when twenty-four cars have the exact same chassis and aero kit and the only thing separating them is the engine and the talent of the team and driver  – the possibility of a parade of evenly matched cars would not be out of the question.

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St. Petersburg Preview

Posted in IndyCar on March 9, 2018 by Oilpressure

Our long national nightmare known as the IndyCar offseason is over. The 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season is finally here as the green flag drops for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg this Sunday on ABC at 12:30 EDT (don’t forget to set your clocks up one hour). The first practice gets underway today (Friday) at 11:20 am EST and goes until 12:05 pm. Practice Two starts at 3:10 pm EST. The times could not have worked out better for me, as my company has scheduled a two-hour conference call from 1:00 until 3:00. With the live streaming of practice, I apparently won’t be straying too far from my office today – but I won’t be missing any on-track activity either.

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Thirty-Three – It’s More Than Just A Number

Posted in IndyCar on March 7, 2018 by Oilpressure

It’s bad that I feel the need to jump on my soapbox just as we are on the eve of a brand new season in the Verizon IndyCar Series. But there is a movement afoot among some of the fan base that I find absolutely mind-boggling. Spewing negativity or not, I feel the need to throw out my opinion on this before this thing gets too out of hand. Not that my opinion carries any weight, but at least I can vent about it here.

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