Graham Rahal and others will be able to keep driving Hondas in the Verizon IndyCar Series.
The Verizon IndyCar Series has reached an agreement with Honda to remain as the motorsports series’ second engine manufacturer. The league made the news public via press release on Tuesday, though terms of the contract renewal were not disclosed aside from the fact that it’s for multiple years.
Honda’s relationship with open-wheel racing goes back to its involvement with CART, starting in 1994,and they joined IndyCar in 2003. Andretti Autosport, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, A.J. Foyt Enterprises, Dale Coyne Racing and Bryan Herta Autosport all currently run Honda engines in IndyCar.
But in 2015, the first season with new aero kits, Honda vastly underperformed when compared to Chevrolet. Every Verizon P1 Award was won by a Chevrolet-powered driver, and Chevrolet dominated the first half of the season, winning six races to Honda’s two – and those two were both races that were called early because of inclement weather.
Honda did come back to win three of the final four races between Ryan Hunter-Reay and Graham Rahal, but by then it was far too late – the top three spots in the league championship all wound up in the hands of Chevrolet drivers.
As a result, Honda petitioned the league to make additional changes to its aero kit in the offseason and was granted that reprieve. Knowing that their contract was up, several observers including current IndyCar champion Scott Dixon wondered if Honda might have used their contract status to gain leverage for those engineering improvements.
While we’ll never know if that was in fact the case, Honda got their chance to fix the aero kits and now they’ve signed a deal to stay in the league for an unknown number of future seasons. They will also remain the title sponsor for the Grand Prix of Alabama, Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio and Indy Toronto.
“We’re grateful for Honda’s longstanding partnership with IndyCar the last 13 years,” league CEO Mark Miles said in Tuesday’s statement. “Racing is a part of Honda’s DNA and its continued investment in the Verizon IndyCar Series – technically on the competition side, but also through sponsoring of events and additional activation – is instrumental to the success and continued growth of our sport.”
For more on the Verizon IndyCar Series, visit the league’s website.