The 2018 IndyCar season is fast approaching. A little over a month’s time, 34 days to be exact. The biggest change for IndyCar in 2018 is the new universal aero kit, but here are five other things to hype you up for the upcoming IndyCar season.
1. New teams
Four new teams will join IndyCar in 2018. Two full-timers and two part-timers. Carlin and Harding Racing will field full-time team operations with two and single cars, respectively. Juncos Racing and Michael Shank Racing will contest select races in 2018 with René Binder and Kyle Kaiser, and Jack Harvey respectively.
Carlin comes onto the IndyCar scene with a bevy of accolades from junior formula racing, including an Indy Lights championship in 2016 with current Chip Ganassi Racing driver Ed Jones. Harding joins as a single car, full-time operation after contesting three races in 2017.
Juncos and MSR are both aiming for a full-time upgrade in 2019. Both owners, Ricardo Juncos and Michael Shank have wanted to field an IndyCar team since their foundings.
2. Portland returns
CART traditionalists will be excited by the return of the Portland International Raceway in 2018. From its addition to the CART schedule in 1984, it ran uninterrupted for 23 years until the dissolution of CART and the re-merger with IndyCar in 2008.
Portland is known for the closest finish in IndyCar history—when Michael Andretti limped to the finish line, low on fuel with his father Mario, charging and finishing just ahead, by 0.070s. With notoriety like this, Portland’s return signals a potential opening for other classic CART venues to make a return. If it happens, the first choice should be, Surfer’s Paradise (Australia).
3. Chevrolet vs. Honda
When the manufacturer-produced aero was introduced in 2015, Chevy had a clear advantage and Honda was left to catch up. With the Series going to a cost-effective, universal aero package; we’ll see how well the two manufacturers match up on a more level playing field.
With six teams apiece on paper, it looks even—exactly what IndyCar want. However, with Chevy winning the last three IndyCar championships, but with Honda being more successful at the Indianapolis 500; 2018 may be the year Chevy crown both an Indy 500 and IndyCar champ since 2015 and Honda since 2011.
4. Can Newgarden repeat
There hasn’t been a consecutive champion since Dario Franchitti—when he won three in a row between 2009-2011. The 27-year-old from Tennessee should be well-equipped for a title defence after winning the title in his first year at Team Penske. He joined forces with Hitachi, former team-mate Helio Castroneves’ main sponsor and that should carry some weight into 2018 as Hitachi were very successful with Castroneves.
The tools are there for Newgarden to repeat if he can improve on his 6.1 place finish average.
5. No Halo
While Formula 1 will be introducing the Halo safety device in 2018, IndyCar has the “classic” aero kit and a potential aeroscreen—that they may or not implement. IndyCar’s decision to test an aeroscreen stems from F1’s head safety concerns, but unlike F1’s limited testing of the Halo at race practices; IndyCar’s aeroscreen will according to IndyCar president Jay Frye, be systematic and at least democratic in its potential implementation.
“It’s still somewhat debatable whether it will definitely be used in the series or not, but it’s something we’re working towards. Then we all decide collectively whether we go forward with it or not or investigate a different solution.”