Chevrolet’s IndyCar Series title contender, Helio Castroneves, may not have been able to win the championship tonight at Auto Club Speedway, but the Bowtie was still able to claim its second consecutive manufacturer’s crown after Will Power took the checkered flag.
Going into the MAV TV 500, seven cars within the Honda ranks (one of them being the No. 9 car of eventual driver’s champ Scott Dixon) and a sole Chevrolet – Castroneves’ No. 3 car – were ineligible to score points for their respective marque. Honda and Chevy had been tied at 135 points, with nine victories achieved by each side.
But with the twin mechanical failures suffered by Honda-powered drivers Charlie Kimball and J.R. Hildebrand just after a restart with 14 laps remaining in tonight’s event, Honda ran out of eligible cars to go toward the manufacturer’s championship.
Chevy-powered pilots locked down the top four positions at the checkered flag, with Power leading Ed Carpenter, Tony Kanaan and James Hinchcliffe across the stripe. Dixon led the Honda camp with a fifth-place finish that brought him his third career series title.
The manufacturer’s title ended a pretty good day for Chevy, whose No. 3 Corvette Racing team of Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia earned the final GT driver’s championship in American Le Mans Series history earlier Saturday at Petit Le Mans.
But what of the future? With Honda recently talking about the importance of a third engine manufacturer to emerge for IndyCar, Chevrolet’s Jim Campbell said at ACS that his company would also welcome more open-wheel competition.
“We’d be supportive of another manufacturer,” he said. “When there’s two [manufacturers], you have to do 60 percent [of the cars]. When there’s three, there’s 40 [percent].
“In the end, it’s more about the competition. We don’t like running in a spec series. It pushes you to be better every week.”
In a statement, Honda Performance Development president Art St. Cyr called tonight’s event an “exciting end” to the season but also “somewhat bittersweet.”
“We’re already looking forward to the start of the 2014 season, which for all of us begins tomorrow,” he said.
MotorSportsTalk’s Tony DiZinno contributed to this report.