INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Graham Rahal knows which manufacturer is the one to beat in the Indianapolis 500 — and it’s not his own.
A Honda driver, Rahal has spent May looking up at all the Chevrolets ahead.
“I definitely think come this Sunday, Chevrolet has a huge advantage,” Rahal said. “I think they appear to have more horsepower, when everybody is lifting in the corners and they go back to power, they always gap you no matter what. That’s a hard thing to compete with.”
Chevrolet took a hit this month with three cars going airborne. Helio Castroneves, the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner, flipped his car last week. Josef Newgarden went airborne the next day, and finally on Sunday, Ed Carpenter became the third Chevrolet driver in five days to go airborne.
When four wheels stay on the track, Chevy has been the class of IndyCar.
Chevy, which had a winning driver in five of the first six races, continued its roll during Indianapolis 500 qualifying. Led by pole winner Scott Dixon, Chevy had the five fastest qualifiers and 11 of the first 15 spots. Honda was IndyCar’s lone engine supplier from 2006-2011.
The top Honda starters are Justin Wilson (6th) and Marco Andretti (8th). Rahal starts sixth in the same row as defending Indy 500 champion Ryan-Hunter Reay, a fellow Honda driver.
“Do I think life would have been easier at this race if we had a Chevy? OK, probably,” Rahal said Thursday at Indianapolis 500 media day. “But at the same time, our connection to Honda is far bigger than racing. We believe in them and I hope we can turn this around.”
Rahal said he believed he could win the race, joining Bobby as father-son champions.
“We’re not going to win this race by speed alone,” Graham Rahal said. “We’re not going to go drive around a Penske. We’re not going to drive around a Ganassi.”
Some other items of note at Indianapolis Motor Speedway:
HURT HINCH: Four-time open wheel champion Sebastien Bourdais lashed out that some of the more lurid details of James Hinchcliffe’s injury were reported. Hinchcliffe was ruled out of racing indefinitely when a broken wishbone punctured the popular Canadian driver’s left leg, causing significant blood loss. But graphic details reported about where and how the wishbone slammed into his body angered Bourdais.
Bourdais questioned why every detail of injuries needed to become public information.
“It’s violating privacy and I think it’s disgusting,” Bourdais said. “I had one conversation with (my PR rep) and I told him, if it was to happen to me, the only one who will say anything to anyone will be my wife. That’s something no one needs to know.
“The fact that he got hurt by a piece of suspension, you don’t need to go into details with where he got hurt, of where it penetrated, where it went through, where it ended. Sorry. That’s just gross.”
Marco Andretti said Hinchcliffe, his former Andretti Autosport teammate, was in good spirits during a hospital visit this week.
“The first thing he told me was, ‘I think I’m ready for Carb Day,'” Andretti said. “He was already cracking on me right away. He was making fun of me tweeting my workouts. I said, ‘You’re fine, I’m out of here.'”
Andretti said he “ached” for Hinchcliffe and likened his helpless feeling to the accident that killed Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon.
“He might have a decent recovery (time) but at least he’s going to recover,” Andretti said.
CARB DAY: Teams have put in two weeks of work, turned hundreds of laps and burned through dozens of sets of tires, yet Friday’s final practice remains crucial. Ryan Briscoe will be on the track with other drivers for the first time since he replaced the injured James Hinchcliffe, and some drivers will try and make up for time lost when Hinchcliffe’s crash led to a shortened practice on Monday.
“I think with my experience, the experience Hinch has had, I feel confident that with a few laps today and Carb Day out there with all the other competitors, I’ll be able to find my groove again,” Briscoe said.
Briscoe’s Schmidt Peterson Motorsport teammates will try and make the most of the final Indy 500 practice.
“From the moment it goes green to the moment it goes checkered, we’ll be on the track,” James Jakes said.
GO PINK: Pippa Mann will lead the drive to fight breast cancer at the Indy 500, raising money to support Pippa Mann’s Pink Car Campaign for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Mann is accepting donations at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-pink-get-involved-campaign-2015. She hoped to raise $50,000. She’ll line the inside of her cockpit with names of breast cancer survivors or those who have died from the disease.
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