Honda made full use of its manufacturer test day Tuesday at Sonoma Raceway, with all 13 of its full-season Verizon IndyCar Series entries logging laps on the scenic 2.385-mile permanent road course in Northern California that plays host to the 2017 finale, the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma.
Participating Honda teams were Andretti Autosport (with drivers Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alexander Rossi and Takuma Sato), Chip Ganassi Racing (Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball and Max Chilton), Dale Coyne Racing (Sebastian Bourdais and Ed Jones), Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (Graham Rahal) and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (James Hinchcliffe and Mikhail Aleshin).
“With the cooler temperatures, there’s a lot of downforce in the car and a lot of grip,” said Hunter-Reay, the driver of the No. 28 DHL Honda who has posted three top-five finishes in his last three Sonoma starts. “It’s a bit different than when we’re here at the end of the season, when the track temps are hotter and we’re sliding around a bit more. It’s great to get back in the car here. It’s a very demanding track and there’s a small window to get it all right. We’re trying to tweak the settings a bit to make that window a bit bigger.”
The test provided the first opportunity for Chip Ganassi Racing to run the Honda aero kit at Sonoma since the team switched from Chevrolet in the offseason.
“The aero package is one thing, which is vastly different in the way that it works and how efficient it is from one manufacturer to the other, and the (Honda) engine is another added difference,” said Dixon, a three-time Sonoma race winner – the last time in 2015 when it also clinched him the season championship. “But for me, personally, the engine has been very good drivability wise and has good power, and it’s very adjustable, too.”
At the conclusion of the test, the Honda teams packed up and headed south for this weekend’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The second race of the season airs live at 4 p.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.
The GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma concludes the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season on the weekend of Sept. 15-17. For tickets or more information, call 800-870-RACE (7223) or visit SonomaRaceway.com/indycar.
Plans set for 10th annual Burger Bash
Appearances by Verizon IndyCar Series drivers and Big Machine Records artist Trent Harmon will highlight the 10th annual Steak ‘n Shake Carb Night Burger Bash, a signature Indianapolis 500 race weekend celebration and fundraiser set for May 26.
The free, family-oriented event at Pan Am Plaza in downtown Indianapolis includes a live show hosted by Burger Bash founder Curt Cavin, INDYCAR’s vice president of communications, and NBCSN broadcaster Kevin Lee. Doors open at 5 p.m. ET, with the show beginning at 6 p.m.
Appearing along with many of the drivers who will compete in the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on May 28 will be Harmon, who last year won the 15th and final “American Idol” season. Harmon will perform his hit single, “There’s A Girl,” and other tracks from his Big Machine Records album set to debut later this year.
The Burger Bash was created in 2008 and has raised more than $200,000 for local charities. Proceeds from the purchase of Steak ‘n Shake food and auction items this year will benefit Basic Needs, Simple Solutions, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit focused on providing people’s basic needs.
Indianapolis-based Steak ‘n Shake returns as primary sponsor of the event. Attendees will be able to enjoy Steak ‘n Shake’s famous Steakburgers and fries, as well as hand-scooped milkshakes during the event.
“This year’s Steak ‘n Shake Carb Night Burger Bash will be the biggest and best yet,” said Cavin. “This event provides an unparalleled INDYCAR fan experience with great drivers, world-class entertainment and fantastic food – there is no better way to get ready for Indy 500 weekend. After traditional Carb Day activities conclude at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, we invite all fans to make their way downtown for this outstanding, free event.”
For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/CurtCavinsCarbNightBurgerBash or steaknshake.com.