"You can only lose in this scenario."
On Sunday, Honda and Chevrolet IndyCar teams will, for the first time, test the new Superspeedway aero kits on their Dallara race cars at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Team owner Michael Andretti is hoping the new Honda kit will improve the brand’s lot this season, because so far, Chevrolet is positively dominating Honda. In the first four races, Honda has one win – the weird rain-soaked New Orleans victory for James Hinchliffe – and Chevrolet has three.
But more telling is top-10 finishes: In the first four races, Honda has 14 top-10 finishes. Chevrolet has 26. A Chevrolet-powered Penske driver has started first in every race.
Andretti, whose Andretti Autosport company plans to field five Honda-powered cars in the 2015 Indianapolis 500, believes the Honda engine is the equal of the Chevrolet – his teams have, after all, scored 42 wins with Honda power since 2003.
So with the chassis and tires identical, all that’s left is the new-for-2015 aero kits that replaced the generic Dallara kits at the start of the season. And that’s where Andretti thinks the problem lies.
Is Honda aware that he feels that way?
“Oh, they’re way more than aware,” Andretti said. “They’re not happy.”
'Messing with our product on the race track'
And neither is Andretti. “All I can say is that I’ve been talking about this from day one. I said, ‘Guys, you’re doing two things: You’re putting a huge expense into the series, and you’re messing with our product on the race track, which I think is the best product out there.’
“You can only lose in this scenario – you’re not going to gain. Now we have a split field. Why? Millions and millions of dollars have been spent by manufacturers and the teams, and I don’t see that it has put one more person in the stands.
“Chevy is the one that’s pushing it,” Andretti said. “Honda would rather spend the money on promoting the series than spend it on these kits.”
It is not an option to return to the original Dallara aero kits, he said. “The Dallara was never meant to face any competition. You’re not going to run it.”
At this point, Andretti says he has “no idea” if the Speedway aero kit unveiled this week will be an improvement. If it isn’t, it could be a very long year for Andretti Autsports and the other Honda teams.
In addition, Andretti also told Motorsport.com that he is open to running another "double" with Kurt Busch, who raced in both the Indy 500 last year and the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, but not this year. "Kurt said he wanted to concentrate on NASCAR," Andretti said, plus, with five cars, Andretti Autosport has its plate full for the 2015 Indianapolis 500.