No, Chevrolet isn’t in racing for the trophies.
But we don’t turn them down.
With Chevrolet taking another manufacturers championship after the penultimate race in the 2014 season – our third straight – it was especially sweet to end the season not only with Team Penske driver Will Power’s first Verizon IndyCar® Series championship, but the first four drivers in the season championship were Chevrolet-powered.
Yeah, that’s a lot of trophies.
“Winning the 2014 IndyCar Series manufacturers championship with the Chevrolet IndyCar V6 twin turbocharged direct-injected engine is the result of a collaborative and cooperative effort by our teams and technical partners,” said Mark Kent, Director, Chevrolet Racing. “It’s a tangible validation of why Chevrolet races – to prove our technology under the most extreme conditions.”
After all, much of the technology found on the Chevrolet IndyCar V6 is also found on many Chevrolet passenger vehicles, including turbocharging and direct fuel injection. So much of what is valuable to a race team is every bit as valuable to Chevrolet customers – power, light weight, fuel efficiency and reliability.
So with our third straight manufacturers championship in hand, it was time to head to the season finale – the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, just east of Los Angeles, where a drivers’ championship would be decided.
The top two in points entering Fontana were both Chevrolet drivers, both members of the legendary Team Penske, owned by Roger Penske – and both were seasoned veterans. But, despite an incredible 53 combined wins in IndyCar, neither Helio Castroneves nor Will Power had won a championship. And Penske hadn’t won the championship since 2006, well before Chevrolet re-entered IndyCar.
Neither Power nor Castroneves had the sort of race they hoped for at the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, with Power 10th and Castroneves 18th. But a solid season, based in large part on the reliability of the Chevrolet engine over the past 16 races, sent the two Team Penske teammates to the season finale first and second in points, with Power holding a narrow 51-point advantage over Castroneves. But with IndyCar awarding double points for the race in Fontana, the title was still up for grabs.
On paper, it was a close call between Power and Castroneves.
Power had turned in a spectacular season-long performance, with three wins and four poles. He has competed for 11 seasons in the IndyCars, and it seems hard to believe that Power had never won a championship, despite finishing second in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
The edge in experience had to go to Castroneves. He started in IndyCars in 1998, and, like Power, he has three second-place finishes in the championship – in 2002, 2008 and 2013. His 2014 season hadn’t been quite as spectacular as Power’s – Castroneves came to Fontana with one win and two poles, but consistency kept him in the championship hunt.
And in the end, it was Power who led during the race, as did teammate Castroneves. But it was still another Chevrolet-powered driver, Tony Kanaan of Chip Ganassi Racing, taking the win, followed by Ganassi teammate Scott Dixon, Ed Carpenter, and the third Penske driver, Juan Pablo Montoya – all driving Chevrolet-powered cars. Power’s finish of 9th was more than enough to wrap up the championship. The top four in points were all Chevrolet drivers – Power, Castroneves, Dixon and Montoya.
In the words of Jim Campbell, U.S. Vice President of Chevrolet Performance Vehicles and Motorsports: “What a night! We couldn’t ask for anything more. To see Team Chevy drivers capture the top four positions in the final standings reflects the durability, reliability, power and excellent fuel economy of the Chevrolet IndyCar V6 engine.”
Chevrolet ended the championship-winning season with eight different drivers taking the Bowtie to Victory Lane a total of 12 times.
So now what will Chevrolet IndyCar teams do with the 2014 season completed?
Start working on the 2015 season, of course. Because that’s what champions do.