INDYCAR confirms Chevrolet wins fourth straight Manufacturer’s Championship

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SONOMA, Calif. – Four-for-four.

That’s what Chevrolet is in Manufacturer’s Championships since its return to the Verizon IndyCar Series ahead of the 2012 season.

The latest title was confirmed and announced, officially, just before today’s GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma season finale at Sonoma Raceway.

Honda put up a valiant fight this year but lacked the overall grunt, pace and performance of the Chevrolets of most of the season. A single Honda-powered driver, Graham Rahal, still has a shot to win the drivers’ championship versus five Chevrolet-powered drivers.

The release from INDYCAR is below:

For the fourth consecutive Verizon IndyCar Series season, Chevrolet has claimed the Manufacturers Championship.

Heading into today’s season finale, the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, Chevrolet teams have won nine of the first 15 races and collected every available Verizon P1 Award for winning the pole position this season. No matter what transpires in today’s 85-lap race at Sonoma Raceway, Chevrolet has clinched the manufacturers award.

Chevrolet re-entered Indy car competition as an engine supplier in 2012 and has won the Manufacturer Championship every year since. This year, Chevrolet and fellow supplier Honda took on the additional role of developing and supplying aerodynamic bodywork components that attach to the Dallara IR-12 chassis used by all Verizon IndyCar Series teams.

“Our fourth consecutive Manufacturers Championship is the result of consistent preparation, teamwork and execution by our Chevrolet teams, drivers and technical partners,” said Jim Campbell, U.S. vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports for Chevrolet. “Together, we focused on delivering strong engine and aero performance all season long.”

Manufacturers earn points toward the championship at each race based on the positions of each’s top three finishers. They can earn bonus points for winning the Verizon P1 Award, leading the most laps and for each 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 engine that reaches its 2,500-mile threshold. Points are reduced for engines that fail to reach the 2,500-mile minimum before being changed out.

“We’d like to congratulate Chevrolet on clinching the 2015 Manufacturers Championship and to thank Honda for its resilient competition throughout the season,” said Will Phillips, INDYCAR Vice President of Technology. “The Chevrolet IndyCar V6 has had a strong and consistent performance this season, which has been reflected by success on the racetrack in both race finishes and engine durability.

“We made adjustments to how points were scored in the Manufacturers Championship this year,” Phillips added, “which accurately reflected Chevy’s strong performance throughout the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season, highlighted by a win in the Indianapolis 500.”

Chevrolet’s nine race wins thus far have consisted of three by Team Penske (Juan Pablo Montoya two, Will Power one) and two each by CFH Racing (Josef Newgarden), Chip Ganassi Racing Teams (Scott Dixon) and KVSH Racing (Sebastien Bourdais). Team Penske collected 11 Verizon P1 Awards this season, Chip Ganassi Racing Teams earned two and CFH Racing one.

Of the six drivers mathematically eligible for the drivers’ championship, five are part of the Chevrolet team (Montoya, Power, Newgarden, Dixon and Helio Castroneves).

Cadillac, Acura battle for top speed as cars back on track for Rolex 24 at Daytona practice

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The new hybrid prototypes of Cadillac and Acura battled atop the speed chart as practice resumed Thursday for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Chip Ganassi Racing driver Richard Westbrook was fastest Thursday afternoon in the No. 02 Cadillac V-LMDh with a 1-minute, 35.185-second lap around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway.

That pace topped Ricky Taylor’s 1:35.366 lap that topped the Thursday morning session that marked the first time the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was back on track since qualifying Sunday afternoon that concluded the four-day Roar Before The Rolex 24 test.

In a final session Thursday night, Matt Campbell was fastest (1:35.802) in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsports Porsche 963 but still was off the times set by Westbrook and Taylor.

Punctuated by Tom Blomqvist’s pole position for defending race winner Meyer Shank Racing, the Acura ARX-06s had been fastest for much of the Roar and led four consecutive practice sessions.

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But the times have been extremely tight in the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) category that has brought hybrid engines to IMSA’s premier class. Only 0.9 seconds separated the nine LMDh cars in GTP in qualifying, and though the spread slightly widened to 1.378 seconds in Thursday’s practices with teams on varying strategies and preparation, Westbrook still pooh-poohed the importance of speeds.

“It’s always nice to be at the top, but I don’t think it means too much or read too much into it” Westbrook said. “Big fuel tanks in the GTP class this year, so you have no idea what fuel levels people are running. We had a good run, and the car is really enjoyable to drive now. I definitely wasn’t saying that a month ago.

“It really does feel good now. We are working on performance and definitely unlocking some potential, and it just gives us more confidence going into the race. It’s going to be super tight. Everyone’s got the same power, everyone has the same downforce, everyone has the same drag levels and let’s just go race.”

Because teams have put such a premium on reliability, handling mostly has suffered in the GTPs, but Westbrook said the tide had turned Thursday.

“These cars are so competitive, and you were just running it for the sake of running it in the beginning, and there’s so much going on, you don’t really have time to work on performance,” he said. “A lot of emphasis was on durability in the beginning, and rightly so, but now finally we can work on performance, and that’s the same for other manufacturers as well. But we’re worrying about ourselves and improving every run, and I think everybody’s pretty happy with their Cadillac right now.”

Mike Shank, co-owner of Blomqvist’s No. 60 on the pole, said his team still was facing reliability problems despite its speed.

“We address them literally every hour,” Shank said. “We’re addressing some little thing we’re doing better to try to make it last. And also we’re talking about how we race the race, which will be different from years past.

“Just think about every system in the car, I’m not going to say which ones we’re working on, but there are systems in the car that ORECA and HPD are continually trying to improve. By the way, sometimes we put them on the car and take them off before it even goes out on the track because something didn’t work with electronics. There’s so much programming. So many departments have to talk to each other. That bridge gets broken from a code not being totally correct, and the car won’t run. Or the power steering turns off.”

Former Rolex 24 winner Renger van der Zande of Ganassi said it still is a waiting game until the 24-hour race begins Saturday shortly after 1:30 p.m.

“I think the performance of the car is good,” van der Zande said. “No drama. We’re chipping away on setup step by step and the team is in control. It’s crazy out there what people do on the track at the moment. It’s about staying cool and peak at the right moment, and it’s not the right moment yet for that. We’ll keep digging.”


PRACTICE RESULTS:

Click here for Session I (by class)

Click here for Session II (by class)

Click here for Session III (by class)

Combined speeds