It’s been a pretty adventurous Month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway so far with speeds reaching close to 240 MPH. While the speeds have been up, it means the cars are reaching their maximum performance levels. Honda has shown the most speed throughout the weeks leading up to the Indianapolis 500, but their lack of reliability could be what Chevrolet teams Ed Carpenter Racing and Team Penske need in order to challenge for the win.
Honda powered engines took six of the top-10 fastest qualifying speeds, and they’ve been consistently atop the speed charts in practice. However, as practice has continued to roar on, Honda has blown, or run into, several engine-related problems, while Chevrolet has none.
Most notably, Fernando Alonso, who has had several Honda reliability problems in Formula 1 this year, was forced to change an engine just prior to Sunday’s Fast 9 qualifying session.
In Monday’s practice session for the Indy 500, Oriol Servia, driving a second Honda powered entry for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, let out a plume of smoke as his engine expired. It was a presumably brand new engine in the No. 16 Honda that let go after only 36 laps of practice. Servia’s teammate Graham Rahal was plagued by apparent engine issues early last week when his engine expired on day one of practice.
Prior to his vicious qualifying crash for the 500-mile race, Sebastien Bourdais suffered an engine failure just three laps into last Saturday’s running of the Grand Prix of Indianapolis.
If all these engine failures are any indication of what the rest of the week at Indy will be like, Honda may have their work cut out for them. Most of the Honda drivers don’t believe they will have any issues when it comes to outright speed or fuel conservation, but half the battle of the Indy 500 is making it to the end.
Chevrolet, with the exception of Ed Carpenter Racing and Will Power, hasn’t shown the same straightline speed that Honda powered teams have, but their durable cars could be enough to propel them to the front.
If Honda can keep everything smooth inside the cars, there’s a good chance one of their 18 drivers will end up drinking a cold glass of milk in victory lane on Sunday.