INDIANAPOLIS – Last week, I did my first Verizon IndyCar Series silly season update. It’s never too early for things to start happening. The first domino in that story fell, Team Penske announced this past week that they will indeed form a team in the IMSA WeatherTech Championship with Honda power next season.
That could spark the next domino, with the expansion there, they appear to be downsizing by one team on the IndyCar side, meaning Helio Castroneves will be out of a ride.
Simon Pagenaud, Will Power and Josef Newgarden are all three under contract for the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season. Castroneves, isn’t. The first domino was the IMSA program being revealed, the next is the downsizing. Then, the third domino is Castroneves and/or Juan Pablo Montoya being the IMSA drivers for Penske next year, as well as coming back for a one-off effort next May at Indianapolis.
But, another silly season update is rumored to be happening too, it’s Andretti Autosport may be moving from Honda to Chevrolet next season.
First off, the question from many, may be why? Why would Andretti move from a manufacturer that’s given them three Indianapolis 500 victories over the last four years? The answer is simple – they want success outside of Indy too.
When Chip Ganassi Racing moved from Chevy to Honda in the offseason, it was rumored that Andretti wasn’t happy that Ganassi became the new “lead” Honda team. Despite winning the ‘500, they wanted to improve throughout all of the tracks on the circuit.
Also, Chevy is actively wanting to fill the gap of the loss from Ganassi. They only supply eight engines to the entire 2017 field. Honda has 13 cars.
With the rumor that Penske could be downsizing, there’s even more room from growth on the Chevy side. Of course they’d love to have Andretti’s four car effort fill that gap.
That would make it more even for 2018, 11-10 favoring Chevy at that point.
Plus, take this stat for what it’s worth, when Andretti was with Chevy in 2012 and 2013, they reached victory lane nine times. In the four years since they’ve been back with Honda, they have eight wins, three of which were in the ‘500. They’ve got five total wins in four years on tracks away from Indy.
In 2012 and 2013, they had all nine.
Plus, they had 22 podiums combined in the two years from 2012-2013, from 2014-2017, they have had 28.
They also had just six less top five finishes as a team in half the amount of time with Chevy than they’ve had with Honda.
On top of that, who’s to say Honda will have the preferred engine at Indy next year too? There’s a completely new car coming, so everything from the stat book from 2012-2017 is out the window.
This isn’t set in stone yet, but multiple reports are coming out that it’s moving in that direction. I’m hearing there’s more than a 50-50 chance of this occurring.