With the new car that will debut for the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season this year, the difference between cars and drivers won’t be aerokit dependent. It’s going to be resources, talent and which engine is best. See, now everyone has the same car, gone are the aerokit days. With that being said, most were saying the early leader out of the clubhouse would likely be Honda.
While no one had real stats or data to prove that point to be true, word around the paddock was that Honda could have an early advantage.
If this weekend’s test at the ISM Raceway is any indication, I’d say that Honda indeed will be the ones to beat out of the gates in 2018.
Look at it this way, Chevrolet had the superior short oval car in INDYCAR competition the last few years. In both races at Phoenix, Chevy drivers led all 500 laps turned. Chip Ganassi Racing led 155 laps in 2016, with Team Penske leading the other 95 laps. Last year, the four Penske drivers in the field combined to lead all 250 laps.
No one else has led a lap at Phoenix since INDYCAR has returned to the west valley track.
But, if you look at the speed charts from this past weekend’s test, you’d see they were all Honda dominated.
Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan Racing was by far the best in the field with leading all four of the test sessions this weekend.
In session No. 1, Honda had six cars in the top nine of the speed chart. In the night session, they had the top two speeds and six of the top nine again. On Saturday, the Japanese manufacturer had five of the top seven speeds and 10 of the top 14. In the final three hour test session, they had four of the top seven.
So, after 12 hours of on track activity the last two days, it’s a clear indicator that Honda may have closed the gap that they had on Chevy’s. In fact, they may come back in April and dominate.
I suspect that we may see a new team other than Penske and Ganassi to lead laps in April.