Chevy has come to fight at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the opening salvo fired by Team Penske’s Will Power demonstrated the Bowtie has achieved the Holy Grail of delivering wicked power with incredible fuel economy.
“Yeah, we have noticed that Honda has had some pretty good mileage, but [the team] gave me the [fuel] number [to achieve],” he said. “It was a big number that I had to get. I did my first lap, and I only was halfway there. I’m like, man, this is going to be tough. You know, I leaned it out more, which is a power loss, and then I got the number. I was able to get the number every lap and maintain a pretty good pace.”
Power’s dominant win on Saturday was another celebration of all the ground Chevy has gained on its rivals at Honda over the offseason.
“You know, it seemed as though [Honda] had [it] better, but Chevy today — that’s the thing about Chevy, they’re constantly working on it,” he added. “If there’s any deficit anywhere, they find a way to bridge that gap and do it quickly. I love driving with Chevy for that reason.”
With Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon in hot pursuit from inside the No. 9 Honda, IndyCar’s acknowledged fuel-saving maestro had no answer for Power — even with the 2.2-liter twin-turbo V6 Chevy engine dialed back to sip its ethanol. But that’s not to say capturing the win in the No. 12 Chevy was a comfortable experience.
“It’s still funny; you save fuel but you push like qualifying because you’ve got to make the time up in the corner as you’re saving the fuel,” Power said. “So, it’s not like it’s easier, yeah, to go fast and save fuel. It’s very tough.”
With a 3-2 win advantage over Honda this season heading into the Indy 500, the one big question left to answer will come on race day as both manufacturers bolt new engines into the field of 33. What kind of power or mileage gains will be available to their drivers, and can Chevy stop Honda and return to Victory Lane for the first time in 2015?
If the five races held so far are an indicator, it’s too close to call, but there’s no doubt Chevy is looking incredibly strong as IndyCar’s most valuable race draws near.