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Notes: Honda, INDYCAR Close In On New Deal

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, August 1 2015
INDYCAR engine supplier Honda will apparently remain with the series. (INDYCAR/LAT USA file photo)

INDYCAR engine supplier Honda will apparently remain with the series. (INDYCAR/LAT USA file photo)

RacinToday.com

Honda Performance Development president Art St. Cyr said Friday a contract extension with INDYCAR to supply engines and aerodynamic bodywork packages to the Verizon IndyCar Series past the current season is close to being finalized.

bugindynotes“Back when we started this, we had a lot of discussion about some of the technical issues and the technical vision moving forward,” St. Cyr said at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, site of Sunday’s Honda Indy 200. “I’m happy to say that we have a written resolution on a lot of those technical issues. Some of them, we have a verbal agreement. There’s still one or two issues that we’re still trying to work through.

“Like any company, we want to make sure that we have all of the Is dotted and Ts crossed before we move forward. But our intent and our wish is to resolve those issues, obviously before the end of this season, so we can move forward with an extension.”

Honda and corporate rival Chevrolet began supplying a variety of road-course/street-circuit and oval-track aerodynamic body kits to their teams’ base Dallara chassis this season in a bid to differentiate the open-wheel cars.

Scott Dixon, winner of five of the past eight Verizon IndyCar Series races at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, recorded the quickest lap through two practice sessions Friday for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.

Dixon’s lap of 1 minute, 5.9645-seconds on the 2.258-mile/13-turn road-course during the 75-minute afternoon session was six-tenths of a second off the track qualifying record set by Dario Franchitti in 1999 and matched by Gil de Ferran in 2000.

“We went through a few different setup changes just to try to find our groove, but overall the car was pretty quick,” said Dixon, driver of the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. “We’ll hopefully carry some speed into (qualifying) and try to start up-front.”

Sebastien Bourdais, pole-sitter for the 2014 race at Mid-Ohio, was quickest in the late-morning practice (1:06.2034) and second in the afternoon (1:06.0190) in the No. 11 Team Hydroxycut-KVSH Racing Chevrolet. Five different teams were represented in the top five of the lap time chart, and the top-20 cars were separated by less than a second in afternoon practice.

Three rounds of knockout qualifying will be conducted at 3 p.m. (EDT) Saturday and be televised by NBC Sports Network. Green flag for the 90-lap race will drop Sunday at 2:05 p.m. (EDT) for an event that will be televised on CNBC.

A three-time series champion, Dixon is third in the championship standings entering Round 14 of 16. Front-runner Juan Pablo Montoya of Team Penske has a 42-point advantage over Graham Rahal of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, with Dixon 48 points out of first.

Reigning series champion Will Power, fifth in the standings, was third-quickest in the second practice (1:06.0781) in the No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet while Rahal (1:06.1049) was fourth in the No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda. Takuma Sato, who is marking his 100th series start this weekend, was fifth (1:06.1361) in the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda for A.J. Foyt Racing.

Montoya, who was limited to 12 laps in the morning practice because of an alternator issue, posted a best lap of 1:06.9930 among 21 laps in the afternoon for 22nd on the combined time chart.

Light-emitting diode (LED) panels displaying a car’s real-time running position on-track made their Verizon IndyCar Series debut during Friday’s practice sessions. The system was an immediate hit with fans and an accepted addition with crews for the good of the sport.

The LED panels are attached to both sides of the cars’ airbox, below the camera mount and roll hoop. The current running position of each car is displayed in red numbers and updated multiple times each lap as cars cross the many timing lines embedded in every series track. A running clock will time a car’s pit stop in green lights on the panel and a flashing green “PP” will indicate when a driver activates the push-to-pass button on the car at road- and street-course events.

Michael Cannon, race strategist for Tristan Vautier in the Dale Coyne Racing No. 19 Honda, looked at the system as an engineer.

“For the show, I think it’s beneficial,” Cannon said. “From a team perspective, we just look at it being more weight on the car and go, ‘Oh, great, just what we needed.’  You get some places like Indy _ 500 miles, people on different strategies, etc. _ sometimes it gets a little tricky for people to keep track. I know I’ve sat in the grandstands during the Indy 500 and even I have a hard time following it sometimes. I’m a believer in it.”

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, August 1 2015
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