TORRANCE, Calif. – An accomplished 16-driver lineup, including two previous race winners and 11 graduates of open-wheel training-ground series, make up the Honda-powered effort for the 2013 Indianapolis 500, as the company seeks its 10th consecutive “500” victory – and fourth-in-a-row with engine-manufacturer competition.
Last year marked the return of manufacturer competition to the IZOD IndyCar Series and Indianapolis, after six years of Honda supplying engines to the full Indy car field – also the only six times in “500” history with no in-race engine failures.
Prior to Franchitti’s victory, manufacturer competition last took place at the fabled “Brickyard” in 2005 – a race won by the late Dan Wheldon, the first of his two Indianapolis 500 triumphs with Honda power. Previously, Buddy Rice had scored Honda’s first Indy 500 victory in 2004.
“Last year’s win by Dario and 1-2 finish for Honda was a milestone event for Honda Performance Development,” said Art St. Cyr, president of HPD. “While we take a great deal of pride in the unprecedented record of performance and reliability achieved by HPD during our six-year run as sole supplier, the challenges provided by manufacturer competition validate Honda’s reason for racing.
Once again, Chevrolet has presented a stern challenge for our engineers and partner teams, but that simply encourages us to redouble our efforts. We’re looking forward to another exciting race on Sunday.”
Seven teams will utilize the Honda HI13RT Indy V6 engine, which is designed, manufactured, developed and maintained by HPD, the racing arm of American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
The Chip Ganassi Racing organization serves as Honda’s anchor team, and is led by three-time ‘500’ winner and four-time series champion Franchitti, All of Franchitti’s 31 career IndyCar wins have come with Honda power, making him the manufacturer’s most successful driver in North American open-wheel racing.
He is partnered by two-time series champion Dixon, who also includes an Indianapolis 500 (in 2008) victory among his 29 race wins.
The four-car Ganassi lineup is rounded out by veterans Ryan Briscoe and Charlie Kimball. Briscoe, the Indy pole qualifier in 2012, rejoins his former team for this year’s “500”, in addition to his full-season role with the HPD-equipped Level 5 Motorsports team in the American Le Mans Series. Kimball is making his third Indianapolis start for Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing after a strong eighth-place finish in 2012.
Current IZOD IndyCar Series Championship points leader and Long Beach race winner Takuma Sato will be making his fourth Indy start, but his first driving for the legendary A.J. Foyt’s Texas-based team. He is joined at A.J. Foyt Racing by second-generation racer Conor Daly, making his first start at Indianapolis.
Veteran Justin Wilson made his Indianapolis debut in 2003, but not on the famous 2.5-mile oval. Instead, Wilson’s first race at Indy was on the circuit’s road course, in the U.S. Grand Prix, driving for the Jaguar Formula One team.
Now an established IndyCar veteran with seven career wins, most recently at Texas Motor Speedway in 2012, Wilson returns to the Brickyard with Dale Coyne Racing. He is teamed in 2013 by a pair of Indy Lights graduates, Ana Beatriz and Pippa Mann.
Alex Tagliani will be seeking to follow up his 2011 pole run at Indianapolis with his first trip to victory lane at the speedway. He is once again driving for Team Barracuda-Bryan Herta Autosport.
Another strong single-car entry is fielded by Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, with one of 2012’s outstanding rookies, Josef Newgarden, making his second start at the “500”.
Simon Pagenaud, the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year, returns with Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports for his second Indianapolis start, and is partnered with one of 2013’s outstanding rookies, Tristan Vautier, and Katherine Legge, also making her second “500”appearance.
The Honda effort at Indianapolis is rounded out by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, fielding Honda-powered Dallaras for Graham Rahal, a third generation racer and son of team co-owner Bobby Rahal, and veteran British racer James Jakes.
Honda has been a fixture in North American open-wheel racing since 1994, and has played an active role in the growth of the IZOD IndyCar Series – as both a Manufacturers' Championship competitor and single engine supplier – since joining the series in 2003.
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 IZOD IndyCar Series in 2006. Honda supplied racing engines to the full, 33-car Indianapolis 500 field every year from 2006-2011, and for a record-six consecutive years, the ‘500’ ran without a single engine failure.
The 2010 Indianapolis 500, won by Dario Franchitti, marked Honda's 100th race win as a manufacturer and engine supplier in IZOD IndyCar Series competition.
Founded in 1993, HPD is the technical operations center for high-performance Honda racing cars and engines and operates at race circuits around the world from its headquarters in Santa Clarita, California.
In addition to its efforts in Indy car racing, HPD spearheaded championship-winning efforts in the 2009, 2010 and 2012 American Le Mans Series; 2010 Le Mans Series; and triumphed in the LMP2 category at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in both 2010 and 2012.
HPD offers a line of race engines for track applications from sports cars to karting; and showcases "fun-to-drive" products for professional, amateur and entry-level efforts.