INDIANAPOLIS – Its been an every other year cycle as far as which manufacturer dominates the Indianapolis 500. In 2014, it was pretty even with Chevrolet drivers leading 106 of the 200 laps and Honda 94. Then, the aerokits came in 2015 and Chevy dominated. Their drivers led 193 of the 200 laps that year. Honda led just seven combined laps.
Last year though, Honda shocked everyone and had the superior kit.
In the 100th Running of the Indy 500, Honda drivers led 129 of the 200 laps compared to 71 for Chevy. In fact, Honda drivers led 487 of the 603 superspeedway laps in 2017. They led 122 of the 200 laps in Pocono and 236 of the 248 at Texas.
Also, they took the pole in each of those three races, their only three poles of the season, and won two of those three too, their only two victories.
Away from superspeedways, Honda drivers led only 116 laps in the other 13 races.
The trend says Chevy will turn the tables and see their cars as the ones to beat in this year’s race, but the offseason aerokit freeze says otherwise. With a new car coming out in 2018, IndyCar and their manufacturers decided to not develop anymore on the aero side for this season. Basically, why spend the money to enhance a car another year when those resources can go to developing the new car for next year?
So, Honda clearly had an enhancement between 2015 and 2016, but Chevy doesn’t have that luxury between 2016 and 2017. But, as we all know, Team Penske isn’t going to go down easy. They just didn’t have it last year and you can be assured Roger Penske, Tim Cindric and the Penske boys won’t allow that to happen again.
But, they had to be very strategic and smart with closing the gap. The biggest question is did they?
Chip Ganassi Racing has since left Chevy and joined Honda, and a team of that stature joining a manufacturer that led 129 laps a year ago and 94 two years prior is extremely attractive. Think about it this way, Ganassi knows information on both sides now. They know where Chevy was lacking with now having Honda data too.
That’s why the biggest question is, did Chevy close the gap?