When the 2015 Indianapolis 500 concluded, Juan Pablo Montoya was its victor and Marco Andretti “was angry.”
But the son of Michael Andretti wasn’t mad because Montoya won. He was ticked off that Honda had lost in a glaring fashion.
The final results showed Marco’s No. 27 Snapple Honda finishing in sixth, one spot behind the No. 15 car belonging to Graham Rahal.
The two drivers had the only Honda-powered cars in the top 11.
Honda was able to celebrate six wins over the course of 2015’s 16-race schedule. But Andretti knows there’s asterisks on some of them.
“Some we won, weren’t… one was a pack race (Fontana), anyone’s game,” Andretti told media last weekend at Phoenix International Raceway, including NASCAR Talk‘s Nate Ryan. “Pocono was a lot of people out. Ryan (Hunter-Reay) drove a hell of a race.”
Two others, Honda’s only wins among the first 10 races of the season, were a result of rainouts at NOLA Motorsports Park and one of the Detroit duals.
The Indy race could serve as the perfect microcosm for the first half of the season. Frustrations over Honda’s seeming disadvantage to Chevrolet have resulted in the former citing Rule 9.3 in the IndyCar rulebook, which will allow Honda to make changes to its aero kit for short tracks, road courses and street courses in 2016.
The modifications are based on two tests IndyCar made with the 2015 aero kits. What was the difference?
“I’ve heard numbers around 400 pounds of downforce,” Andretti said. “It’s like bringing a knife to a gunfight. Three to four tenths there… if we make some of it up. With some wins they pulled out this year, we hope it’ll be twice as strong.”
During the long offseason Andretti has tested for 2016 at Mid-Ohio and Road America, and is scheduled to at Phoenix today pending weather. Andretti says he’s “cautiously optimistic” about what he’s seen so far.
“That’s all I can say without my engineer killing me,” Andretti said. “Most (is being made up) on the road course side. I can’t say we’re totally equal on speedways. There’s a bit of politics involved.”
That’s something the two-time IndyCar winner doesn’t want anywhere near Indianapolis Motor Speedway come the month of May and the 100th running of the Indy 500 a race an Andretti hasn’t won since 1969.
“I don’t want politics to hinder my chance at winning that race, you know?” Andretti said. “It’s the 100th Indy 500… that could be the face for the next 100 years. To be at a disadvantage there would be disappointing.”