Chevrolet boss not surprised by Honda pace at Indy – Motorsport.com
Jim Campbell, GM’s VP of performance vehicles and motorsports, says he’s not shocked that HPD-powered cars have outnumbered Chevrolet in the Fast Nine for tomorrow’s decisive qualifying session.
Although three Penske cars (Will Power, Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud) are through to the Fast Nine, along with Josef Newgarden (Ed Carpenter Racing), the Bowtie brigade were outnumbered by three Andretti Autosport cars (Ryan Hunter-Reay, Townsend Bell and Carlos Munoz), and two of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports drivers – James Hinchcliffe and Mikhail Aleshin.
Hinchcliffe and Hunter-Reay, also claimed the two fastest times of the day, with Power third as best Chevy.
However, Campbell told Motorsport.com: “We still have four shots at it and I think qualifying is one aspect of it and we have as good an opportunity as anybody.
“Then from tomorrow evening we focus entirely on the race, because history has shown a driver can win from virtually any spot on the grid. But yes, things have tightened up for sure.”
When IndyCar implemented Rule 9.3 during the off-season, Honda were allowed to work in two extra aerodynamic “boxes” on their road/streetcourse/short oval kits, but not their superspeedway kits. That being the case, it might be regarded as surprising that the evidence from practice and today’s first round of qualifying suggests HPD has nonetheless been able to catch up with Chevrolet.
However, Campbell looked at it from another angle, stating: “Last year at the 500, near the end of the race, there were still a number of the other OEM’s cars running strong, and IndyCar’s independent tests suggested there was not enough of a difference between the two superspeedway packages to justify allowing them to make changes over and above what was allowed under Rule 9.2.
“So I would say that the performance this week shows that was a correct assessment; the competition is tight, and personally I think that’s good for the 100th Running… Although obviously we will work hard with our teams to push more Chevrolets up there, and that applies to every race.”
Asked how much Chevrolet can share one team’s setups with a rival team’s, Campbell replied: “We work with our partner teams to give them the insights we have drawn from our work in simulation and the windtunnel. It’s up to the teams to decide how they’re going to address the whole system.
“The way one team looks at the system may be different from how another team does. There’s more than one way to get speed. So although we work closely with all of them to share all we’re learning from our aero development and powertrain development, the teams ultimately choose their individual setups.”