|Honda has a stout lineup now, but can they beat the Penske juggernaut?|
Improvements throughout – led by the return of the championship-winning Chip Ganassi Racing organization – highlight the Honda effort as the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series opens this weekend at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Featuring a talented full-season lineup and updated Honda Indy V6 engine, Honda opens the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series seeking its seventh competitive manufacturers’ championship and 12th Indianapolis 500 victory in the last 15 years.
The manufacturer and its Honda Performance Development racing arm will present an impressive lineup at Sunday’s season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, including four time IndyCar series champion and 2008 Indianapolis 500 victor Scott Dixon; 2004 series and 2013 Indianapolis 500 champion Tony Kanaan; 2012 series and 2014 Indianapolis 500 champion Ryan Hunter-Reay; four-time consecutive Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais; defending Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi; and multi-race winner Graham Rahal.
All will utilize the twin-turbocharged Honda Indy V6 engine, which is designed, manufactured, developed and maintained by HPD. Designated the HI17RTT, the engine will be used throughout the 2017 season.
“The Indianapolis 500 has remained a high point for Honda, with two victories in the last three years, but we’ve faced challenges elsewhere in the series," said Art St. Cyr, HPD president. “Both HPD and our teams have taken action in the off-season to improve our performance and results in 2017. We’re looking forward to the start of the season on the streets of St. Petersburg, to taking on the challenge presented by our competition in the battle for the Manufacturers’ Championship, and to successfully defending our 2016 victory in the Indianapolis 500 in May."
Honda has been a fixture in North American open-wheel racing since 1994, and has played an active role in the growth of the Verizon IndyCar Series as both a Manufacturers' Championship competitor and single engine supplier, with a record that includes 217 individual race wins and six manufacturers’ championships.
The company scored its first Indianapolis 500 victory in 2004 with Buddy Rice; Manufacturers' Championships in 2004 and '05; and became engine supplier to the entire IndyCar Series in 2006. Honda supplied racing engines to the full, 33-car Indianapolis 500 field every year from 2006-2011, and for six consecutive years — and the only six times in event history – the ‘500’ ran without a single engine failure.
Since the return of multi-manufacturer competition in 2012, Honda has scored three more Indy 500 triumphs, by Dario Franchitti in 2012, Hunter-Reay in 2014 and Rossi’s historic victory in last May’s 100th running of the Memorial Day classic. The 11 wins by Honda at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway lead all other major automobile manufacturers.
2017 Honda Verizon IndyCar Series Lineup
- Andretti Autosport
#26 Takuma Sato (W)
#27 Marco Andretti (W)
#28 Ryan Hunter-Reay (C) (W)
- Andretti-Herta Autosport
#98 Alexander Rossi (W)
- Chip Ganassi Racing
#8 Max Chilton
#9 Scott Dixon (C) (W)
#10 Tony Kanaan (C) (W)
#83 Charlie Kimball (W)
- Dale Coyne Racing
#18 Sebastien Bourdais (C) (W)
#19 Ed Jones Jr. (R)
- Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
#15 Graham Rahal (W)
- Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
#5 James Hinchcliffe (W)
#7 Mikhail Aleshin
C – IndyCar Series Champion
W – Race Winner
R – Series Rookie