Honda still confident despite another Pole Day drubbing

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As bad as today was for Honda — who had none of their cars make the Fast Nine shootout for the Indianapolis 500 pole — it’s not the end of the world. After all, the manufacturer only had one car in the Fast Nine last year yet rallied on Race Day to secure a 1-2 finish courtesy of Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Dario Franchitti (pictured) and Scott Dixon.

With that in mind, Honda Performance Development technical director Roger Griffiths vowed that his camp will be ready to battle engine rival Chevrolet in next Sunday’s race.

“Obviously, we come here to do our best and we came here shooting for the pole, and we’re a little bit down on the speeds from where we need to be,” Griffiths told NBC Sports Network’s Robin Miller during this afternoon’s proceedings. “But what everybody remembers is who won the race and we’ve got a pretty good record of winning here. We’re hoping that come next Sunday, we’ll be the ones drinking the milk and lifting the trophy.

“It’s frustrating and I can only sympathize [with the Honda-powered drivers]. We’re all racers, we all want to go fast. The guys back in California have been working hard and we just have to knuckle down and keep going. But you know, it’s a tough day but we rise on these occasions. We keep fighting. That’s what we did last year and that’s what we plan to do next weekend as well.”

Barracuda-BHA’s Alex Tagliani was the top Honda driver, placing 11th on the grid with a four-lap average of 227.386 miles per hour. Chevrolet-powered drivers claimed the first 10 positions, with pole sitter Ed Carpenter leading a mix of the entire Andretti Autosport and Team Penske squads as well as J.R. Hildebrand from Panther Racing in that block of spots.

As for Franchitti and Dixon, Honda’s heroes from one year ago, they’ll start 16th and 17th respectively — well within striking distance of the front on Race Day even with their manufacturer’s problems this afternoon.

MRTI: Juncos signs Carlos Cunha for Pro Mazda campaign

Photo: Juncos Racing
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Juncos Racing continued to bolster its entries in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires by signing Carlos Cunha to pilot a third Juncos Pro Mazda entry for 2018. Cunha, who finished third in the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season on the back of seven podium finishes, joins Rinus VeeKay and Robert Megennis in Juncos’ Pro Mazda lineup for 2018.

Cunha previously tested with the team at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in October and joined Juncos for the Chris Griffis Memorial test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in November, testing cars for both the Pro Mazda and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires teams.

“It’s great to become a part of Juncos Racing,” said the 18-year-old Cunha. “I am really excited to start the 2018 season with Juncos Racing. This fall we did some testing together and from there I was able to see how focused everyone on the team is and I even felt like I became a part of their family in no time. I am confident we will get great results together next year and I look forward to learning and growing more with the team. It will be a huge pleasure and also a great responsibility to carry the number one on my car, thanks to (2017 Pro Mazda champion Victor Franzoni) and I hope to deliver it back to the team at the end of the year!”

Team owner Ricardo Juncos added, “We are excited to add Carlos to our Pro Mazda lineup. From the moment we started testing with him in early October, we knew he would be a great fit for our team. Carlos has been very quick in testing and even had an impressive showing in the Indy Lights car at the Chris Griffis test back in October. He had a great run this past season in the Pro Mazda series and we are confident he will carry that momentum into the 2018 season.”

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