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Chevrolet, Honda outline technical updates, goals for 2016

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Both Chevrolet and Honda have outlined updates and goals for the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

From their pre-race, and preseason releases:

The 2016 goal for Chevrolet Racing in the Verizon IndyCar Series: leave St. Petersburg with another “W” to kick off the season in pursuit of a fifth consecutive Manufacturer Championship. But the competition will be strong and the field tighter than ever.

CHEVROLET AERO KIT UPDATE:

One of the primary criteria for Chevrolet’s return to IndyCar competition in 2012 was the ability to design and engineer an Aero Kit that created differentiation from the competition. The 2015 introduction of the Chevrolet-specific Areo Kit accomplished that goal with components that included front and rear wing elements, “coked” side pods with wheel wedges and rear wheel guards to deliver Chevrolet IndyCar teams the right combination of drag and downforce coupled with optimum engine performance from the reliable and successful Chevrolet 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged, direct injected V6 engine fueled by E85.

The Aero Kit introduction with integrated Chevy V6 engine netted Team Chevy 10 Series wins, 16 poles, a fourth consecutive Verizon IndyCar Series Manufacturer Championship, Scott Dixon winning the Driver Championship and Montoya taking Chevrolet to Victory Lane in the Indianapolis 500. After four seasons of competition, the number of wins for Chevrolet stands at an amazing 43 in 68 events since the start of 2012. In 2015, Chevrolet IndyCar drivers were awarded every Verizon P1 pole award.

Provisions in the 2016 Verizon IndyCar rulebook allow the manufacturers to continue to bring upgrades and enhancements. For Chevrolet, the goal remains the same – to give the Chevy teams the on-track tools needed to win races and championships. Chevrolet, in conjunction with its technical partners, has developed a strategic plan to rollout upgrades to the allowable three regulation boxes of the Chevrolet Aero Kit. For the St. Petersburg street course race, fans will see all new rear wheel guards on the Chevrolet entries.

“Per IndyCar rules, there are three ‘boxes’, or areas, of the aero kit which can be changed for the 2016 season,” said Mark Kent, Director of Motorsports Competition for Chevrolet.  “For Chevrolet, it is important that we continue to provide our teams with the correct balance of aerodynamic drag, downforce, engine performance, reliability and efficiency that has resulted in us winning the last four IndyCar Manufacturer Championships. Therefore, we plan on taking full advantage of this opportunity to further improve our aero performance and will implement staged changes to all three aero kit boxes. Chevrolet will introduce new rear bumper pods at the St. Petersburg race. We will update the other two ‘boxes’ later in the season.”

CHEVROLET INDYCAR V6 ENGINE UPDATE:

For 2016, Verizon IndyCar Series Engine Regulations continue to provide Chevrolet the opportunity to design and upgrade the Chevy IndyCar 2.2-liter V6 engine – the goal always being to provide Chevy teams and drivers improved power, reliability and fuel efficiency. The 2014 and 2015 upgrades, including the integration into the Chevy Aero Kits, remain in effect plus the opportunity for the Chevy engineers and technical partners to design and implement upgrades to ports, camshafts, fuel system and installation – including a new, lighter exhaust system and a new wastegate with improved actuator cooling and valve head design.

HONDA AERO KIT, ENGINE UPDATES:

Featuring a talented full-season lineup, updated Honda Indy V6 engine and enhanced aero kit bodywork, Honda opens the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series this weekend, seeking its seventh competitive manufacturers’ championship and 11th Indianapolis 500 victory.

The manufacturer and its Honda Performance Development racing arm will present an impressive lineup at Sunday’s season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, including 2012 series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, five additional Indy car race winners and a trio of promising rookie talents.

All will utilize the twin-turbocharged Honda Indy V6 engine, which is designed, manufactured, developed and maintained by HPD. Designated the HI16RTT, the engine is designed to meet the Verizon IndyCar Series’ technical regulations for 2016. The updated engine is mated to a Dallara DW-12 chassis that also features updated aero kit bodywork for all 12 Honda entries in St. Petersburg.

“We’ve been encouraged by the performance of the Honda Indy V6 and the other improvements we’ve made during the off-season,” said Art St. Cyr, president of Honda Performance Development. “We believe we have a great lineup of teams and drivers, including a good balance of proven race winners and promising new stars. We’re looking forward to the start of the 2016 season on the streets of St. Petersburg, and taking on the challenge presented by our competition in the battle for the Manufacturers’ Championship, and for victory in the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 in May.”

Mario Andretti says Colton Herta could be next American star in F1

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Mario Andretti’s last Formula One victory is also the last by an American driver in more than 42 years on the international open-wheel road racing series.

If you had told Andretti that while he was celebrating on the Grand Prix of the Netherlands podium on Aug. 27, 1978 at the Vandzoort circuit, he wouldn’t have believed it.

“Absolutely not,” Andretti told Kyle Petty during the most recent “Coffee With Kyle” episode (video above). “It’s a shame. Somehow we have so much talent here, and either there’s no invitation or something there. But I think it’s time to give some of this young talent that, in my opinion, is absolutely capable.”

The Dutch GP was the last of Andretti’s 12 victories in F1 and came during his championship season. No one since has come close to matching his success in F1.

Mario Andretti drives his Lotus-Ford to victory in the 1978 Grand Prix of the Netherlands (Bernard Cahier/Getty Images).

Andretti’s son, Michael, took a full-time ride with McLaren in 1993 but left with three races remaining in a season marred by crashes and mechanical problems.

Scott Speed was the last American to run a full F1 season in 2006, and Alexander Rossi made the most recent F1 start by a U.S. driver in 2015. Rossi has said he has no desire to return to racing in Europe after winning the 2016 Indianapolis 500 and becoming an IndyCar championship contender.

But Mario Andretti believes Andretti Autosport has another rising star with F1-caliber ability.

“Colton Herta is one that comes to mind,” Mario Andretti said. “As a young lad, his dad sent him to Europe, he was doing Formula 3, and he knows most of the circuits there. He’s trained. He’s showed in his rookie season and won some premium races at COTA (and Laguna Seca), beat two of the very best Indy has to offer (in) Will Power and Scott Dixon.

“This is one kid I’d love to see him get a break over there to fly the U.S. colors again.”

Herta, 20, seems interested in exploring an F1 leap over the next few years. After winning Sept. 13 at Mid-Ohio from the pole position (his third career victory in the NTT IndyCar Series), the No. 88 Dallara-Honda driver is ranked fourth in the standings in his sophomore year and regarded as one of the series’ top prospects.

Herta recently told RACER.com “I’d love to give Formula 1 a crack” but said he also would be happy driving in IndyCar and IMSA.

A naturalized U.S. citizen who told Petty about spending several years with his family in an Italian refugee camp before coming to America, Mario Andretti said F1 brought an enormous sense of patriotic pride.

“Formula One is like the Olympics in a sense,” he said. “You’re in a different country, a different continent. When you earn that highest step of the podium, they play your national anthem. That’s when you take nothing for granted. You feel like I’m representing my country, and the proudest moments are those.

“I’d just like to see some other American drivers experience that. It’s time.”

Mario Andretti with four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton before the Nov. 22, 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).

During the “Coffee With Kyle” conversation, Andretti also discussed:

–His versatility as a winner in IndyCar, sports cars, NASCAR and Formula One;

–His 1967 Daytona 500 victory and how he enjoyed racing with crew chief Jake Elder at the famed Holman-Moody team;

Mario Andretti Colton Herta
Mario Andretti and Kyle Petty saluted “The King” by wearing their Richard Petty-style hats during the latest “Coffee With Kyle” (NBCSN).

–Why he delayed his entry to F1 for a few years because of his earnings power in IndyCar. “I always say I’d race for free, but at the same time, you’re thinking of family and the future,” he said. “It was in the back of your mind that you can’t give up the earning power of IndyCar. That kept me from going full time in Formula One, but I always said that sometime in my career, I’d have to devote a period to Formula One.”

–On what it was like racing in an era when driver deaths were more prevalent. “If you’re going to do this, you’re not going to dwell on those negatives,” Andretti said. “There’s no way. You knew it was present. Especially in the ‘60s at the beginning of the season at the drivers meetings, you couldn’t help but look around and say, ‘I wonder who is not going to be here at the end of the season.’ We’d lose four to five guys. In ’64, we lost six guys.

“It’s something if you dwell on that, you’re going to take on a different profession. It’s a desire and love to want to drive that overcame all that and then the confidence it’s not going to happen to me. And then you pray.”

Watch the full “Coffee With Kyle” episode in the video above or by clicking here.

Mario Andretti looks on before the 103rd Indianapolis 500 on May 26, 2019 (Chris Graythen/Getty Images).