Honda Enters Second Half of 2018 on Top

Hunter-Reay's Honda Indy car with Firestone rain tires
Firestone's new rain tires fitted to Ryan Hunter-Reay's Honda on Belle Isle. | Photo: Gannon Burgett / The Apex

After a tough month of May that went Chevrolet’s way, Honda was left licking its wounds but three races later, the Japanese manufacturer finds itself ahead in both race wins and the elusive engine manufacturer championship.

Engine competition returned to the series in 2012 with the addition of Chevrolet and Lotus to the championship, joining sole supplier Honda in the same year the Dallara DW12 ushered in a new era of competition.

Despite each car sharing the same aero kit through 2014 and new turbocharged V-6 engines, Honda failed each year to secure the manufacturer’s title — even having won the driver’s championship in 2013 with Scott Dixon. When manufacturer-specific aero kits debuted in 2015, Honda’s record was even bleaker with Chevrolet taking both the driver and manufacturer titles during each of the three years that saw the companies compete on both the aerodynamic and engine fronts.

As 2018 got underway with INDYCAR’s new universal bodywork, Honda’s record improved with the brand outscoring Chevrolet 338-271 through the first four rounds.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, once a bright spot for Honda having backed the winning Indianapolis 500 driver four out of the last seven years, proved more challenging. Chevrolet gained 37 points on Honda after the INDYCAR Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500 were both won by Will Power.

Bouncing back from the heartbreak of losing Indianapolis has been key to Honda’s success.

With the engine manufacturer championship based primarily on each manufacturer’s top two finishers, Honda racked up 277 points in the three races since June 2 thanks to two victories by Scott Dixon and one by Ryan Hunter-Reay.

ManufacturerDetroit Race 1Detroit Race 2TexasTotal Points
Honda Top FinisherDixon (1)Hunter-Reay (1)Dixon (1)277
Honda Second FinisherHunter-Reay (2)Jones (3)Rossi (3)
Honda Points969190
Chevrolet Top FinisherPower (7)Power (2)Pagenaud (2)175
Chevrolet Second FinisherNewgarden (9)Kanaan (7)Kimball (10)
Chevrolet Points486661

In contrast, Chevrolet earned only 175 markers during the same timeframe, putting it at a 132-point deficit entering the second half of the season.

Beyond points, Honda also holds the upper hand in race wins with five victories to Chevrolet’s four, capped by three consecutive victories at Detroit’s Raceway at Belle Isle Park doubleheader and Texas Motor Speedway.

The new universal aero kit has equalized the field in some respects while also opening the series up to an an intense competition that revolves not only around the capability of engines but also driver skill and engineering prowess.

While the first nine rounds are fodder for the record book, eight remain including one temporary street circuit, four permanent road courses, two short ovals and one superspeedway.

Like the driver’s championship, the manufacturer battle is far from over but Honda’s early advantage could pay dividends when the season comes to a close at Sonoma Raceway, where Honda lost the manufacturer’s title last year by 163 points — its sixth consecutive defeat.

The next chance for both Honda and Chevrolet to earn points will be at Road America where the KOHLER Grand Prix will take place June 24.

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