Honda Racing / IZOD IndyCar Series / RacingLine
Honda Extends Its Commitment to Indy Racing League Through 2009
With General Motors gone and rival Toyota departing after 2006, Honda Performance Development gave the Indy Racing League some positive news in October when it renewed its commitment to Tony George's series through 2009.
"We are pleased to announce that Honda will continue its role as an engine supplier to teams participating in the IRL IndyCar Series," said Robert Clarke, HPD president. "In the three years that Honda has been a part of the IRL, we've had a great deal of success against strong competition from other auto manufacturers.
"But, with or without that competition in future seasons, we wish to remain in IndyCar racing as it provides both a technical challenge for our engineers and a showcase for Honda products in the premier openwheel racing series in this country."
With Toyota headed to NASCAR, it was assumed by many that Honda would follow suit and withdraw from open-wheel racing following eight championships in the past decade.
"We've got a lot of equity in IndyCar racing and, while we welcome competition and desire competition, it's not the deciding factor in our decision," said Clarke. "If we have to supply the entire field in 2007, we feel that's still a better option than throwing away such a huge investment."
George was obviously delighted with Honda's vote of confidence. "I am very excited about Honda's decision today as it brings stability and continuity to a very competitive racing package," said George, chief executive officer of the Indy Racing League. "We look forward to continuing our partnership with Honda.
"We're encouraged by their multi-year commitment to the IRL, and their willingness to assist us in growing the series both on and off the race track."
In three years of IndyCar competition, Honda's teams have compiled an enviable record of achievement. They include IRL Manufacturers' Championships for Honda in 2004 and 2005; a pair of Indianapolis 500 triumphs (Buddy Rice in 2004 and Dan Wheldon in 2005); two Drivers' Championships (Tony Kanaan in 2004 and Wheldon in 2005); three Rookies of the Year (Wheldon in 2003, Kosuke Matsuura in 2004 and Danica Patrick in 2005); and a total of 28 IndyCar Series race victories.