Honda is keen to limit its full-time engine rentals to around 15 next year. Dale Coyne Racing would like to expand and field another Honda-powered entry with HMD Motorsports. And Chip Ganassi Racing would like to continue with Jimmie Johnson in the #48 Honda.
Somewhere between their three respective ambitions, an answer might be found as to how DCR, CGR and Honda Performance Development – the makers of the 2.2-liter twin-turbo V6 engines – all get what they want.
“As far as what Jimmie is doing, I have said publicly that we have supported his efforts,” Chuck Schifsky, director of Honda and Acura Motorsports, told RACER. “I think we can see, now after a while, that he’s comfortable on the ovals, he’s doing really well on the ovals, and that’s great. So we’re supporting Chip’s efforts to work with Jimmie to bring this car to the track. I think it worked well for all of us, for IndyCar, for Ganassi, for Honda, for the sport. I think Jimmie brought in a lot of new fans.
“We are at a time where we have to make sure that we continue to bring new drivers, young drivers and build personalities and show personality as a sport to the fans. So from that point of view, if the demand comes from Chip to continue with Jimmie, we will support that in 2023.”
It was thought that the answer to come on what Johnson’s future might hold for CGR – a full season, ovals only, etc. – would have a direct influence on DCR’s access with HMD to another engine lease. According to Schifsky, if CGR returns next season after downsizing from four cars to three full-timers, that lease wouldn’t necessarily go to another team.
“The best way to look at this is that it doesn’t automatically become an engine that has to go somewhere,” he said. “It’s less about ‘we only have 15 engines, or 14 engines, or 16 engines’, or whatever the number is. It’s less about that for us, and more about knowing what the potential is. of each of these cars to win races and championships?You’ve probably heard [HPD president] David Salters says his job at HPD, his job for American Honda, is to win races and keep the Honda name at the front of all things IndyCar racing.
“So sometimes you do that with a fairly small number of teams or drivers. We’ve been lucky to have a lot of drivers who have been very competitive. So for us it’s not a question of ” OK, Chip says I don’t need that fourth engine ‘and we automatically go around in circles and have to put together a car and run that engine. That’s not the situation.’
Whether it’s 14, 15 or 16, Schifsky says the decision to provide another engine for hire is based on the quality and potential of the program.
“So conversely, if somebody comes along with the right driver and the right opportunity that we think can win races again and win championships, win the Indy 500 for Honda, and all of that has meaning, then we will participate,” he added.
The particular hope for DCR with HMD is to field a new entry for presumptive Indy Lights champion Linus Lundqvist, who heads to Monterey this weekend with a giant lead in the standings driving HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing. . Continuing the relationship with the Swede to move into IndyCar with the same teams makes a lot of sense, but without the award of an IndyCar engine lease attached to every new Indy Lights champion, Honda and Chevy aren’t obligated to compete. step in and ensure a driver like Lundqvist is on the starting grid next year.
“I think Linus is someone who for a while now has shown promise,” Schifsky said. “But until [sealing the championship] does it happen? We don’t have an official answer as to whether we would support this or not. I think this is a David Salters question only. I don’t think we can answer that question yet. This may be something that will require an answer. You know, the two may not be related.
“So let’s say Jimmie renews and [DCR w HMD] I want to put Linus in a car and I need an engine. This becomes the discussion and the question being answered. But if Jimmie goes, it’s not like we magically have that engine burning a hole in our pocket that we’ve been desperately looking for a spot for.