EXCLUSIVE: Honda has fast, deep lineup in 2019 NTT IndyCar Series

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Honda Performance Development claimed its first INDYCAR Manufacturers Championship since the current two-engine manufacturer battle began in 2012 when it topped Chevrolet last season. A Honda driver, Scott Dixon, also won the 2018 NTT IndyCar Series championship.

HPD officials were happy, but far from satisfied.

That’s because a Chevrolet driver, Will Power of Team Penske, won the Indianapolis 500.

Every week, every race, Honda and Chevrolet hit the track trying to beat each other. It’s a friendly competition, but it’s also fierce.

“Our hopes are very high,” HPD President Art St. Cyr told the NTT INDYCAR App. “Our hopes are high every year. Overall, we had a really good offseason at HPD. Our associates are working really hard to get a really good engine for this year.

“We still have Scott Dixon and Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay and the whole lineup that we have that is really strong from top to bottom, we’re really looking forward to the 2019 season.”

The battle will be renewed in the season-opening race to the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season in the March 10 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Honda driver Sebastien Bourdais will attempt to win on the streets of St. Pete for the third straight year.

By the numbers, Honda has more drivers, cars and teams than Chevrolet. But one of those Chevy teams is Team Penske, an extremely formidable foe. Honda has many top teams led by Chip Ganassi Racing and Andretti Autosport, just to name a few.

Team Penske, Ganassi and Andretti are considered the “Big Three” in IndyCar. But other teams such as Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser and Sullivan, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, ARROW Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and a slew of others can win races on the schedule.

“One of the beautiful things about the NTT IndyCar Series is how competitive it is from week-in, to week-out,” St. Cyr said. “You get a good team with a good driver and good engineers, they can compete with the big boys. It’s not like other racing series around the world where the result is pre-ordained with two or three drivers that can win.

“We like what we have. We have lots in our arsenal every week. Having teams like Dale Coyne and Sam Schmidt and those guys makes it interesting to race against the Penskes of the world.”

A new team to the Honda lineup this year is Harding Steinbrenner Racing featuring 19-year-old driver Colton Herta. That team is getting technical and engineering data from Andretti Technologies.

“What is nice about the Harding Steinbrenner group is their purpose aligns with what we want to do, too, and that is bring up more young drivers to the IndyCar Series,” St. Cyr said. “It works out great that there is a place to place these people, it works out great they are a new team and can draw some experience from a championship-winning team.

“It was shown at Spring Training that Colton Herta can be pretty fast.”

St. Cyr said it means a lot to the HPD family to have second-generation IndyCar drivers such as Graham Rahal, Marco Andretti and Herta because all three of their fathers also drove for Honda in the past.

Honda has a fast and deep lineup. Chevrolet has promised a return to the top.

It should once again be quite a battle between these two manufacturers throughout the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season.

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