The regulations will make the manufacturers’ race a game of shadows this weekend. (LAT photo)
A new rule for the 2013 IndyCar season will play out as its authors intended when the green flag flies during the season finale Saturday at Auto Club Speedway.
With IndyCar’s two engine manufacturers tied on wins and chasing a championship of their own, either Chevy or Honda will come out ahead after 500 miles of racing at Fontana. But with a new wrinkle in place ” one that prevents an entry from scoring manufacturer points if more than its permitted allotment of five engines have been used ” this year, some of the favorites at the MAVTV-sponsored event are ineligible to tip the balance in their brand’s favor.
Just as one of two engine suppliers will take the Manufacturers’ title, the race for the Drivers’ championship has also boiled down to two candidates, yet with fresh engines having been fitted for Fontana, Honda-powered points leader Scott Dixon and his rival, Chevy man Helio Castroneves, are out of the running to help their respective marques seal the Manufacturers’ crown.
If they were to finish 1-2, the Manufacturers’ title would be decided by the next highest Chevy or Honda runner?provided that driver’s entry has used five engines or less.
Other drivers/entries find themselves in a similar predicament, and between the brands, Chevy has one ineligible car to seven from Honda, leaving eight total cars ” nearly a third of the 25-car grid ” out of the Manufacturers’ battle.
Dixon’s new Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Alex Tagliani cannot score Manufacturer points due to the No. 10 Honda carrying its eighth engine of the season (a series high). Honda also has A.J. Foyt Racing’s Takuma Sato (engine No. 6), Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal (engine No. 7), Dale Coyne Racing’s Pippa Mann (engine No. 7) and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing’s Josef Newgarden (engine No. 6) parked in the engine points race.
With only Team Penske’s Castroneves sidelined for Chevy (engine No. 6), the Bowtie carries a definite advantage into Fontana as it seeks to secure its second consecutive Manufacturers’ title.
16 drivers have cars fitted with their fifth engine, meaning any changes that take place prior to the start of the race on Saturday night will carry 10-spot grid penalties and further reduce the number of eligible entries to aid Chevy and Honda.
At present, Ryan Hunter-Reay, AJ Allmendinger, Oriol Servia, E.J. Viso, Sebastian Saavedra, Sebastien Bourdais, Tony Kanaan, Will Power, Ed Carpenter, Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe and Simona De Silvestro remain eligible for Chevy. One of those 12 drivers will need to finish ahead of the top eligible Honda driver for Chevy to take the Manufacturers’ victory.
Honda’s Justin Wilson, Tristan Vautier, Simon Pagenaud, Charlie Kimball or JR Hildebrand will need to finish ahead of Chevy’s 12 to hand Honda’s its first Manufacturers’ championship during IndyCar’s new turbocharged formula.