By Josh Farmer, Contributing Journalist
SONOMA, California – Capturing the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series manufactures championship has everybody at Honda ecstatic heading into Sunday’s season-ending INDYCAR Grand Prix of Sonoma.
Honda-powered cars sit atop the championship standings with Scott Dixon leading Alexander Rossi by 29 points ahead of Sunday’s 85 lap event. Team Penske’s Chevrolet powered cars of Will Power and Josef Newgarden lie 87 points apiece behind the leading duo.
Art St. Cyr, CEO of Honda Performance Development, feels confident about the driver’s championship with representatives Scott Dixon (No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) and Alexander Rossi (No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda),but acknowledges the challenge ahead as they tackle the 2.385-mile, 12-turn road course.
“We have two horses in the race, right, with Scott and Alexander fighting against Will (Power, No 12 Team Penske Chevrolet) and Josef (No. 1 Team Penske Chevrolet),” he said. “I definitely like our position better than their position for this one. You definitely want to be in front coming into the last race.
“This is a difficult, difficult track. From what I hear, especially with the lower downforce this year, the tires are wearing off, if possible, even quicker than they have in the past. It’s going to be a very interesting run on Sunday.”
The championship is Honda’s first manufacturers’ title since INDYCAR switched to the V6 turbo-charged/Dallara DW12 era formula. Chevrolet claimed 68 wins to Honda’s 33 over that span.
While getting beaten to the punch more than often than not, HPD never lost sight of the goal of winning and soldiered on. St. Cyr commends his company for how they handled the situation.
“I’m really proud of the comeback, though,” he said. “How well we’ve responded is probably a better way to put it. For all the folks at Honda Performance Development, we really put our heads down, said no matter what challenge gets put in front of us, goes to the Honda corporate culture, we took that challenge head-on. Some companies might say to forget it.
“We looked at it differently. What do we have to do? We kept clawing our way, clawing our way back. We won 10 of the 16 races this year. Our plan is to win this one, as well. We want to keep going and win every race that we’re at, no matter what obstacle gets put in front of us.”
The first season with the universal aero kit has proved a turn of fortunes for the California-based company – winning 10 out of 16 races. St. Cyr noted that no win stands above the rest, he is over the moon that they have a shot to win at every track.
“Quite frankly, the season has been pretty successful because of the fact that we had a chance to win everywhere, right?” he said. “Our street course performance this year has been really good. But trying to narrow it down to just one thing is a little challenging.”
“I will say that this year in general, this maybe calls me a little bit of a homer on that one, the work that HPD has done, how much passion they bring to finding that little bit of something that gets us over the top, has been inspiring. I’m very happy to be working with such a dedicated and talented group of people to get us to this point.”