LONG BEACH, Calif. -- Most Chevrolet personnel skipped lunch in the IZOD IndyCar Series paddock April 12 as they were busy trading out all 11 V-6 engines in cars entered in the 38th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
The decision was made following the tear down and inspection of the engine in the No. 27 GoDaddy.com car of Andretti Autosport that experienced an issue during a team April 9 at Infineon Raceway.
Per the IZOD IndyCar Series rulebook, each of the 11 entries will be levied a 10-grid position penalty to start the 85-lap race April 15 on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit because of an unapproved engine change. Rules 15.5.1 and 15.6.1 outline the penalty for a change-out if the engine that has not reached its minimum threshold.
"We are still learning the limitations of the new engine controls calibration," said Chris Berube, Chevrolet Racing's IZOD IndyCar Series program manager. "Through our testing in Sonoma, as indicated by an engine issue, we uncovered a problem that we believe could affect all engines. So, as a result, we feel it is prudent to change all engines prior to the start of the on-track activities this weekend."
Team owner/driver Ed Carpenter was philosophical when informed of the penalty.
"It's definitely going to make things interesting," Carpenter said. "It's obviously not ideal, but we're all playing by the same rules. It's the safest choice and, even though we're starting at a disadvantage from the get-go, it's better than potentially having an issue later on. It's a learning process for all of us, and it's not a decision they made lightly."
Berube echoed that sentiment.
"We intently discussed the situation with our partners and our teams prior to determining that this was the best course of action to preserve the integrity of the racing in the IZOD IndyCar Series," he said.
Through the first two races, Chevrolet's 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 engine has recorded two victories and two poles (one of each by Team Penske's Helio Castroneves and Will Power). Castroneves is the series championship points leader by two over Scott Dixon of Honda-powered Target Chip Ganassi Racing.
Others affected by the decision: Ryan Hunter-Reay, James Hinchcliffe and Marco Andretti of Andretti Autosport; Rubens Barrichello, Tony Kanaan and E.J. Viso of KV Racing Technology; JR Hildebrand of Panther Racing and Ryan Briscoe of Team Penske.
“I was already penalized the 10 spots before the decision to change out all Chevy engines," said James Hinchcliffe, driver of the No. 27 car. "It’s a bummer, but now at least I’m not alone. There will now be some good racing happening mid-pack. The engine mileage rule is a tremendous engineering challenge and ultimately helps improve technology for the automotive industry.
"In an era of multiple manufacturers you sometimes have to exceed limits to know where they truly are. Chevy has been an incredible partner since the new cars arrived. They have won the first two races, from pole, and I’m proud to wear the bowtie on my chest. It would be easy to complain about how harsh (the penalty) is, but I think the attitude of everyone on the Go Daddy crew is that when the going gets tough, it’s time to nut up, buckle down and push hard for the best result possible. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”
Added Andretti Autosport owner Michael Andretti: “This is obviously disappointing, but it is the same for all the Chevy teams and these things happen when you are in development programs. Luckily the problem was caught during a test rather than in the middle of a race. It’s unfortunate, but we stand behind Chevy and whatever is needed to continue to set the standard.”
On April 11, the IZOD IndyCar Series announced that the No. 7 Lotus Dragon Racing car driven by three-time Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach winner would incur the same penalty for changing the Lotus engine following the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. He finished a season-high ninth.