As the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Chevrolet celebrated 100-year anniversaries in 2011, the shared motorsport passion of both American brands receives another page in their expanding chronicles this year. Returning to the Brickyard for the first time since 1993 in competition, Chevrolet was brought back thanks to a 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 IndyCar powerplant developed by Illmor engines. For Indianapolis 500 Pole Day qualifying for the main event, the first-place starting spot seemed like Chevrolet’s position to lose. Driving the #26 Chevrolet-powered entry for Andretti Autosport during Friday practice, driver Marco Andretti posted a 227.540-mile per hour lap speed to lead contenders into Saturday where a four-lap effort by race teams will decide where or even if they will start the 96th running of the 500-mile race.
Living up to the pre-qualifying expectations, the Chevrolet IndyCar engines cycled around the 2.5-mile oval at speeds faster than most of their competition running engines supplied by auto manufacturers Honda and Lotus. At the end, a shootout between Chevrolet-powered Dallara DW12 race cars thrilled the crowd with what would be the closest margin in speedway history between the pole and runner-up spot in time trials. Ryan Briscoe, piloting the #2 Team Penske entry’s average speed of 226.484 miles per hour was a narrow 0.003 miles per hour faster than Andretti Autosport #27 car wheeled by James Hinchcliffe. Over the combination of four laps around Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Briscoe’s pole for Chevrolet is a matter of 0.0023 seconds less time.
Triumphant in the pole, Ryan Briscoe declared on behalf of himself and his Team Penske racing organization “I can’t tell you how proud I am to run with the Bowtie here with the history of Chevrolet, and their involvement. They’re there, every step of the way. They continually give us updates and they just don’t stop working. We’re extremely happy to have Chevrolet engines.” Instrumental in the return of Chevrolet to open wheel racing through the IZOD INDYCAR Series, owner of the #2 car Roger Penske gave credit to the driver and team saying, “The guys did a great job. It was just a pleasure to bring that Chevrolet engine down home to the front with IZOD as our sponsor.”
With the Chevrolet IndyCar engine achieving a glory last held in 1991 when Rick Mears stormed to the top starting spot of the Indianapolis 500, the Briscoe-led Bowtie brigade emerged dominantly on Pole Day. Nine of the top-10 entries starting the 2012 event at the Brickyard will be competing with Chevy power. Providing the elated point of view of the pole-winning auto manufacturer, Chris Berube, Chevrolet Racing Program Manager, IZOD IndyCar Series declared, “It is a proud moment for everyone involved in the Chevrolet IndyCar V-6 program to have an all-Chevrolet front row and eight of the Fast Nine for the biggest race of the year. All of our Chevy V-6 teams have put forth a tremendous effort in preparations for the 96th running of the Indianapolis 500.”
After the dominating performance in time trials at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the possibility that technology found on the 2.2-liter V-6 racing engine could influence the future passenger cars sold by Chevrolet. A 12,000-RPM powerplant, the auto manufacturer has eluded to the fact that the combination of turbocharging and direct injection in use on the IndyCar engine is present on the 2013 Chevy Malibu. Part of an engineering team accepting the BorgWarner Louis Schwitzer award for the Chevrolet IndyCar engine, GM Performance Vehicles and Motorsports group’s Mark Kent said, “Going four-for-four at the racetrack and winning the Louis Schwitzer award has exceeded our expectations, but the ultimate goal for this project has always been to develop powerful fuel-efficient engine technologies that could be transferred to production cars,”
The 2012 Indianapolis 500 will be a race day Chevrolet will be featured at the forefront from the start. Ahead of the full front row of Chevrolet engined Dallara DW12 race vehicles will be a 638-horsepower, 2013 Chevrolet Corvette ZR1 pace car. The 23rd time in Indianapolis 500 history that Chevy will lead an open wheel racing field to green, the Corvette ZR1is also going to gain recognition for sporting the highest-output production engine ever for an automobile serving pace car duties on Memorial Day weekend.
“We are looking forward to a great race next Sunday.” said Chris Berube as Chevrolet wants to win their first Indy 500 since 1993 on May 27th.
Information source: General Motors, INDYCAR
Photo source: General Motors, Holman Photography, INDYCAR/LAT USA