In The Garage: What’s Riding On Honda’s Speedway Aero Kit Unveil

Honda's Speedway Areo Kit is up next to be unveiled. [Chris Owens IMS Photo]

Honda’s Speedway Areo Kit is up next to be unveiled. [Chris Owens IMS Photo]

Indianapolis—Necessity is the mother of invention.

With Honda-powered INDYCAR teams trailing badly in the 2015 competition on the track Honda looks to pull a rabbit out of the hat today when the company reveals its super speedway oval aerodynamic package at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

After four events, Honda-powered cars have won only once: James Hinchcliffe’s victory for Sam Schmidt Motorsports at New Orleans. And even though Honda is gaining on Chevrolet with a recent strong performance by Graham Rahal to lift spirits in the garage area, winning races is most important.

Honda executives make no bones about it: winning the Indianapolis 500 on Memorial Day is the over-arching goal.

“Winning the Indianapolis 500 saves your year for sure,” said Honda Performance Development’s Steve Eriksen. “That’s the part that people remember.”

“The number one goal of our company is winning the Indy 500. It is the most important thing for us to do. So that was the design ethos behind the aero kit, was start with the Indy 500 and then everything else cascades on after that.”

Honda will be the first of the two INDYCAR engine manufacturers (Chevrolet is the other one) to show off their super-speedway spec aero kit. Today’s static display will be followed on Sunday, May 3rd with a “Promoter Test” where the package will see its first application on the track.

Accordingly, Honda is reaping the media attention it deserves by being first to the line. After all, one of the stated goals of the aero initiative way back in 2013 was to permit fan differentiation between Chevy- and Honda-powered vehicles.

Honda definitely got the jump on the bowtie crew there, with its exotic, scalloped and curvy street/road course and short oval design. Moreover, Chevrolet earned a black eye for its front high-plane wings that were easily sheered off during competition and later banned.

Beyond today’s aero introduction, though, lie some issues that remain to be fully resolved, among them on-going negotiation between INDYCAR and Honda to renew their engine-supplier agreement.

Both Honda and INDYCAR officials insist the renewal has been pledged “in principle,” but there’s nothing in writing quite yet.

“It’s an agreement in principle,” INDYCAR president of competition Derrick Walker told FOX Sports’ Bruce Martin earlier this month, “but the devil is in the details so until we have a written contract, it’s not finalized.”

Honda didn’t comment other than to note the company has been involved in open-wheel competition for decades and wants to be there going forward.

“It’s always been Honda’s intent to remain in open wheel racing. We enjoy the competition and we want to be here and we are working out the details for that to happen,” they said.

It goes without saying that you can’t win the Indy 500 if you aren’t in open wheel racing, and from victory at the Brickyard flows market brand identity that is invaluable to both Honda and to INDYCAR.

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