Newgarden: Chevrolet “definitely made improvements” for Indy
Chevrolet struggled last year even at 1.4-bar turbo boost for qualifying, with rookie Rinus VeeKay of Ed Carpenter Racing being the only Bowtie runner to qualify in the Fast Nine.
Then come race day, at 1.3-bar turbo boost, the Chevys could match the Hondas but had to lean off the fuel mixture sooner into a stint in order to make it on five pitstops. Newgarden made the best job of it, finishing as top Chevy runner in fifth place.
After topping the speedcharts in Indy 500 testing, with Juan Pablo Montoya third for Arrow McLaren SP, Newgarden commented: “I think Chevy has done a great job, as evidenced with Juan as well. I think the McLaren boys are quick. I think we feel pretty good about things.
“I think they’ve definitely made improvements, and we needed to in the off-season. We all did. Us as a team and Chevrolet, we all got together and looked where we were weakest. I think there was a little bit to go around on all sides. They’ve really stepped up. We put in a lot of effort. I think we found some good stuff.
“It’s getting hard nowadays. These gains you’re looking to find are so small. I think they’ve managed to find a decent chunk, which is impressive with how far along we are [in the lifespan of the 2.2-liter twin-turbo V6 formula].”
Asked how he felt the Ilmor-built Chevys compared with the HPD-built Hondas this year, Newgarden replied: “It’s hard to say. It looks a lot more even this year, is what I would say at the moment. Someone could obviously be miles ahead by the time we get to the month of May. It’s possible.
“But I would say it looks a lot more even right now than where we were last year. We’re all excited about that… It’s going to provide an interesting show for everybody.”
On the subject of fuel mileage, Newgarden said he doesn’t yet have enough data at his disposal.
“We didn’t do a lot of economy stuff, I didn’t run through any mixtures,” he said. “I think there’s still some questions to be answered in the month of May. We were trying to check off some bigger team item stuff.
“Chevy has more manpower than just us at Team Penske. We’re going to debrief with them after a test like this.
“We’re pushing. I think we’re going to be in a good spot, looking at the initial information.”
Since the start of this engine formula in 2012, Honda leads Chevrolet 5-4 in Indy 500 victories.
Photo by: Barry Cantrell / Motorsport Images