SALINAS, Calif – Honda earned their sixth trip to victory lane in seven races on natural road courses during the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season. They in fact have won eight of the last nine on these types of tracks overall.
The win in Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey granted them the 2019 manufacturers championship too.
While Chevy had won eight of the last 13 races overall, five of those eight were contested on ovals. It was Honda’s turn to flip the script and end the year on top again for the second straight year.
In 2018, Honda earned their first NTT IndyCar Series manufacturer’s title since 2011. See, when the DW12 came out for the 2012 season, Chevrolet joined Honda in the series as the two engine suppliers. Chevy, came in and took Honda to the woodshed in winning the manufacturers title in five straight years since their return.
Prior to 2012, Honda was the saving grace to the series. After joining Indy Car in 2003, Honda won the manufacturer championship in 2004 and again in 2005 when competing with Chevrolet and Toyota. From 2006-’11, Honda was the sole engine supplier before Chevy re-entered in 2012.
But, last year it was all Honda. It was a big accomplishment for them to not only knock Chevy off their perch, but to do so in the first year of the new unified package. They had the pace and durability.
Only full-season entries earn manufacturer points, with the highest two finishers for each manufacturer at each race earning points based on the driver point system (50 for first place, 40 for second and so on; with double points awarded for the Indianapolis 500 and Sonoma). Bonuses are added for a race win (five points) as well as pole positions and being the fastest Indy 500 opening-day qualifier.
Durability is a key to the manufacturer point system, however. Each full-season entry is allotted four engines for the season to complete a total of 10,000 miles that includes testing, practice, qualifying and the races. If a car uses a fifth engine or more without completing the 10,000-mile threshold first, it becomes ineligible to earn manufacturer points.
Honda, had eight wins this season. While they didn’t win the championship and saw their best driver finish third in the standings, they did earn the title in the engine war.
Chevy won four of the first six races in 2018 but just two of the final 11 for the rest of the season. They won only 1 of the first 4 races in 2019 too. That was a string of 12 victories in their last 15 tries for Honda heading into the Month of May and three for Chevy.
But, that’s where the bowties turned it on. Chevy had won eight of the last 14 races and they also won the Indy 500 for the second consecutive year.
They seem to have the preferred package on ovals but Honda’s have the advantage on natural road courses and with all those races on road courses this season, Honda prevailed.