By the numbers, there are more Honda teams in the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season than Chevrolet teams, and Chevrolet officials believe that has allowed them to concentrate efforts on a smaller number of cars on the grid. The Chevrolet lineup:
· The primary Chevrolet team is the three-driver operation at Team Penske. All three drivers on Roger Penske’s famed squad are former series champions including 2014 IndyCar title winner and defending Indianapolis 500 champion Will Power, 2016 series champ Simon Pagenaud and 2017 IndyCar king Josef Newgarden. Team Penske will increase to four cars at the IndyCar Grand Prix and the 103rd Indianapolis 500 by Gainbridge with the return of three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves.
· Ed Carpenter Racing is loyal to the Chevrolet brand with owner/driver Ed Carpenter competing on the ovals in the No. 20. Ed Jones will take over that car on the street and road courses and will drive a third entry, No. 64, in the 103rd Indy 500. Talented American driver Spencer Pigot drive the No. 21 Chevrolet at ECR.
· AJ Foyt Racing is back with popular 2004 IndyCar champion and 2013 Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan along with second-year driver Matheus Leist.
· Second-year entries Carlin Racing and Juncos return with Chevy power. McLaren is new to the Chevrolet operation this year when Fernando Alonso returns for his second Indianapolis 500.
Chevrolet director of motorsports competition Mark Kent acknowledges the collection of Chevy teams might be small, but he likes what each one brings to the operation.
“We have a carryover lineup and a real strong lineup,” Kent told the NTT INDYCAR App. “Each one of those teams in its own way has been delivering on track. We are excited about adding Fernando Alonso to the Indianapolis 500 (with McLaren Racing) and the return of Helio Castroneves to the Indianapolis 500.
“We’re going to have a real strong lineup for the Indianapolis 500 and as the defending champions with Will Power, we are really looking forward to that race and hopefully repeating.”
Team Penske is one of the “Power Teams” in the highly-competitive NTT IndyCar Series and looks to be one of the leading teams again in 2019. Always innovative, Team Penske brought four drivers and cars to the INDYCAR “Spring Training” at Circuit of the Americas. The addition of Castroneves gave the team another engineering platform along with additional data. That allowed the other three drivers to work on completely different projects during the test.
“There is a reason they call him ‘The Captain,’” Kent said. “He is a brilliant businessman and a brilliant racer. We weren’t surprised with what we saw and like everybody else there, he’s looking for an opportunity to gain an edge.”
Although Honda drivers topped the charts at COTA during the two-day test on February 12-13, Kent liked what he saw out of the Chevrolet teams.
“I thought it went very well for the first time for Indy cars to be there,” Kent said. “We did a lot of pre-race simulation as our competition did, but even when we got there, they were changing the track and grinding the track, so it was new to all of us.
“Overall, I thought the test went very well. It showed some real strong Chevrolets and hopefully it bodes well for our first race of the season at St. Pete in March.”
Kent said Chevrolet is prepared to increase its production for the Indianapolis 500 as more entries develop for the annual “Month of May” speed classic.
“We have a great partnership with INDYCAR and will do whatever it takes to make sure the Indy 500 is the best show it can be,” Kent said. “If the entries are bigger than 33, we will do our share to support our half of the equation.”
Kent is not concerned that Honda has more cars on the grid than Chevrolet and points to Power’s Indy 500 victory as evidence of the power behind the engine. He is also very impressive with the job that Ed Carpenter Racing did at Indy by winning the Indy 500 pole for the third time in his career and finishing second to Power in the race.
“Ed Carpenter Racing has always done a great job at Indy,” Kent said.