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The state of engine use in INDYCAR

August 22, 2012

Chevrolet gave us this picture of their engine so we wouldn’t photograph all their “secrets”

With three engine manufacturers and limits to the number of engines allocated to five for each car in the 15-race season, the IZOD IndyCar Series is doing a great service by letting everyone inside and out of the paddock know exactly who’s using which engine in their allocation. All engines have to meet an 1850-mile minimum before being swapped out and all engines are allocated in blind fashion (meaning no one can ask for “that one over there in the corner.”

Indy is the perfect place to photograph engines – especially before Carb Day. Anne Proffit photo

Some drivers, like Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) and Simona de Silvestro (Lotus-HVM) have already used up their five-engine allocations and are on their sixth (Dixon’s Honda) and seventh Lotus engine for de Silvestro. Takuma Sato will use his sixth engine at the GoPro Sonoma Grand Prix this weekend on the Raceway in Sonoma.

Lotus is trying to dance its way out of a five-year commitment to INDYCAR and has only one – of four originally signed – entrant, Lotus-HVM Racing using the John Judd-built mill. Anne Proffit photo

Sato will get the 10-place penalty for the engine change, as will Sebastian Saavedra of AFS/Andretti Autosport, who had an unapproved Chevrolet engine change at Indianapolis in May (his most recent INDYCAR competition) and Dale Coyne Racing’s Justin Wilson, who will use his sixth Honda engine at Sonoma, changing to it after the most recent Mid-Ohio race.

Drivers still on their fourth engines – with three races remaining including this week’s contest – are JR Hildebrand for Panther Racing, EJ Viso, Tony Kanaan and Rubens Barrichello of KV Racing Technology, Andretti Autosport’s Marco Andretti and James Hinchcliffe , as well as Ed Carpenter – all of them driving Chevrolet-powered Indy cars. Dragon Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais has a single Chevy left to him, while Chevrolet has allocated an engine for his teammate Katherine Legge to use this weekend, a race near and dear to her sponsor TrueCar.com.

In the Honda camp, reigning champion Dario Franchitti of Target Chip Ganassi Racing, James Jakes of Dale Coyne Racing, Graham Rahal with Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing still have an engine to use in their five-engine lineup. Honda drivers on No. 5 are Rahal’s teammate Charlie Kimball with Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing, Alex Tagliani for Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian, Simon Pagenaud in Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports’ Indy car, Josef Newgarden for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing and Mike Conway’s A.J. Foyt Enterprises’ entry.

Chevy drivers on their fifth engines of the year include Ryan Briscoe, Helio Castroneves and Will Power for Team Penske and Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport.

While it’s nice to know all this trivia, it is even better that INDYCAR is announcing items of this nature where it never did before this year. To know who stands where in terms of engine use is important to fans and media – and competitors – alike and adds transparency to the series, which desperately needs it.

It will be interesting to see how many other drivers beyond those already cited are assessed 10-place penalties once Firestone Fast Six qualifying is completed on Saturday afternoon for Sunday’s GoPro Sonoma Grand Prix.

By Anne Proffit

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