Chevrolet earns second straight IndyCar manufacturer’s title

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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.

F1: Red Bull Racing confirms switch to Honda engines next season

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Honda will become Red Bull’s engine supplier from next season after the Formula One team confirmed its anticipated split with Renault on Tuesday.

The Japanese manufacturer will supply engines for 2019 and 2020, and Red Bull team principal Christian Horner hailed the deal as “an exciting new phase” in the bid to return to the top of F1.

“After careful consideration and evaluation, we are certain this partnership with Honda is the right direction for the team,” Horner said in a team statement. “We have been impressed by Honda’s commitment to F1, by the rapid steps they have made in recent times with our (feeder) team Toro Rosso.”

It is a boost for Honda, which was unceremoniously dumped by McLaren at the end of last year.

Honda has started this season brightly as engine provider for Toro Rosso, and this may have been a key factor in Red Bull finally ditching Renault.

“Honda’s alignment with both Red Bull Formula One teams provides enormous potential,” Horner said. “Honda will have access to a wealth of data from both outfits, with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing leading the way, and the opportunities for faster, more effective and more competitive development are doubled.”

The deal brings to an end Red Bull’s 12-year partnership with Renault.

Although relations became increasingly strained between the two parties in recent years, it was once a dream partnership as Red Bull and Renault won four straight drivers’ and constructors’ championships with Sebastian Vettel behind the wheel from 2010-13.

During that glory era, Vettel and teammate Mark Webber won 47 grand prix. Since 2013, results have somewhat dried up and there have been only 10 race wins.

“We have sometimes had our differences but Renault has always worked tirelessly and to the best of its ability to provide us with a competitive power unit,” Horner said.

He was not always quite so complimentary about Renault. He has regularly and publicly criticized Renault’s reliability in recent years – although it has been hard to judge sometimes.

Red Bull showed good speed toward the end of last season when Max Verstappen won two races, and teammate Daniel Ricciardo won this season’s Chinese GP with a brilliant drive. The difference in speed between Red Bull and Mercedes appears less than before, although Ferrari remains noticeably quicker.

Verstappen’s form has picked up after a poor start to 2018, marred by crashes, and he has taken third place in two of the past three races.

Meanwhile, McLaren’s partnership with Renault has not been as successful as they anticipated after dropping Honda following three fruitless seasons together.

Two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso has failed to finish the past two races and has yet to place higher than fifth. Renault teammate Nico Hulkenberg has a best finish of fourth place.