The 105th running of the Indianapolis 500 has 35 entries ready to roll once the month of May arrives.
According to Rob Buckner, Chevrolet’s NTT IndyCar Series program manager, it has 17 contracts in place, which adds to the 18 Honda Performance Development recently confirmed. The only outlier for Chevy would be if it decides to add an 18th for Top Gun Racing, which did not take part in the recent Indy Open Test due to its lack of having a 2.2-liter twin-turbo V6 motor to propel RC Enerson.
“Right now, we have 17 teams and drivers signed on for this year,” he said. “We expect we may add another one, we’re not completely sure, but it’s getting close to crunch time. So we’re close to finalizing. For us, it’s really, do we have the parts and the people to do it? And if race teams put something together, we try to be good partners with our teams and we’ll figure out a way to make it happen.”
Based on speeds at the test, Chevy-powered teams were highly competitive against their rivals at Honda, which was a welcome change after the American arm of the Japanese manufacturer dominated the last Indy 500. Both brands will have different engines containing more advancements to give their teams in May, and as a result, it’s hard to predict how Chevy and Honda will fare at the Speedway. But Buckner is confident in the work his group has put forth in response to 2020.
“I always joke with our group that hope is a very bad plan,” he said. “So we’ve had to really dig deep and try to look at where we missed it last year. And collectively, our groups have never worked better together when you look across the Chevrolet performance team with Ilmor, Pratt & Miller, everyone at Chevy, and then our race teams, I can’t thank them enough for all that they’ve contributed in the off-season.
“And we didn’t play a blame game. We just left there frustrated with our overall performance, and have done everything we could since late August there to address it for this year. I think that the cars have changed enough that it’s kind of a reset from 2020 when you look at the new aero parts that IndyCar is introducing there. It seemed like at the test, that guys could follow closer.
“It was maybe a little easier to pass with the bargeboards and some of the different floor configurations that IndyCar’s come up with. But that was a pretty favorable day. It was cool, cloudy. I’m sure if we have a 95 degrees sunny race, that it’s still going to be really difficult. So we’ve put a lot of emphasis on, how are we going to qualify better? How are we going to get the most out of our engine package? Like I said, we visited every area of performance and tried to polish on everything. And our group’s very detail-oriented. So I think we’re going to have a strong package.”