Time and again in the recently completed 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, Chevrolet drivers spoke of the improved year-over-year drivability of their engine, thanking the manufacturer for its offseason work.
Last weekend, Chevrolet, in conjunction with Ilmor Engineering, was rewarded with its seventh manufacturer’s trophy in the past 11 years, the first since 2017.
“Very (satisfying),” said Mark Stielow, Chevrolet’s director, Motorsports Competition Engineering. “The guys at Ilmor, Ray Gosselin, Paul Ray, Steve O’Connor – all those guys -- we really dug deep in the offseason, worked on a new strategy, utilized a lot of our tools with our driving simulator, worked with the teams to really come up with a more robust package for this season, and we got a lot of positive feedback from the drivers and the crew chiefs and everybody.
“What we were working on paid dividends.”
Chevrolet’s regular teams included Team Penske, Arrow McLaren SP, Ed Carpenter Racing, AJ Foyt Racing, Juncos Hollinger Racing and Paretta Autosport, with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and DragonSpeed/Cusick Motorsports competing in the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.
Drivers from those teams combined to win 11 of the 17 races this season. Team Penske won nine, including five by Josef Newgarden, three by Scott McLaughlin and one by Will Power, who also delivered the season’s driver’s championship. Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward won two races.
Chevrolet drivers also won 13 NTT P1 Awards this season.
Jim Campbell, Chevrolet’s U.S. vice president, Performance and Motorsports, said teamwork was the key to the manufacturer’s success.
“With (limited) testing time available, you’ve got to work together and, as Mark said, (use) the simulation tools, really learning from one another, which was a tough thing to do,” he said. “We were brought up in this industry to compete against one another, driver to driver, team to team, and what we find is that when we get the right trust level, the learning side goes faster when we work good together in certain areas.
“Certainly, the teams have points of difference; they’re going to work hard on their own. But it’s good we’ll have about half the field next year.”
Arrow McLaren SP and Juncos Hollinger Racing have announced plans to expand. AMSP will have three cars, with Alexander Rossi joining O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist; Callum Ilott will get a teammate to drive the No. 78 car of Juncos Hollinger Racing. That will give Chevrolet 12 full-time car-and-driver combinations next season, plus the expected part-time schedule from Beth Paretta’s team and Ed Carpenter’s oval participation.
Campbell also said Chevrolet appreciates having the opportunity to race against Honda.
“(The two companies) have about six or seven kinds of major projects we do together in the auto industry, joint ventures, alliances and everything from all kinds of technical projects, so we know how to work together,” he said. “We also know how to compete against one another in the showroom and on the track.
“But without Honda (in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES), this award obviously has a lot less meaning, so when you’re competing against somebody, you appreciate it.”