Rookies Achieve Indy Dream with Honda Power
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 26, 2012) – Five of the eight rookies in Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 field will be using Honda power, as the manufacturer leads the way in providing opportunities for the next generation of racing stars to achieve their dreams of competing at the fabled Brickyard.
On Sunday, Bryan Clauson, Wade Cunningham, James Jakes, Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud will all make their first Indy starts in the 96th running of the Indianapolis 500, the largest contingent of rookies for any manufacturer in this year’s race.
Three of the Honda-powered rookies and one driver making his second “500” start are products of the INDYCAR ladder system, while an additional rookie and four veteran Honda drivers in this year’s race are previous graduates of either the Formula Atlantic or Indy Lights development series.
“Honda has long believed in providing platforms for developing future stars of the sport,” said Marc Sours, General Manager, Honda Performance Development (HPD). “It’s rewarding to see that so many talented rookies in this year’s field are driving for Honda teams. Our goal is to see additional drivers, now just starting out in Formula F and other Honda-supported classes, achieve their Indy dreams in future years.”
Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing is fielding a pair of rookies and INDYCAR ladder graduates: 2011 Indy Lights Champion Josef Newgarden and USAC National Champion Bryan Clauson.
Wade Cunningham, a former Indy Lights champion and three-time Indy Lights winner at Indianapolis, will make his “500” debut on Sunday with A.J. Foyt Racing.
Indy rookie Simon Pagenaud and veteran Graham Rahal are both graduates of Formula Atlantic, where both won races and finished 1-2 in the 2006 championship, Pagenaud winning the title after a year-long battle with Rahal. Now, they are rivals for racing’s greatest prize, with Rahal driving for Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing and Pagenaud leading the Schmidt
Hamilton Racing effort.
Bryan Herta Autosport’s Alex Tagliani is another graduate of the Atlantic series, where he starred from 1996-99. Charlie Kimball was an Indy Lights front-runner in 2009-2010 before moving up to IndyCars with Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing; and Townsend Bell won the Indy Lights championship in 2001.
In 2009, Honda Performance Development (HPD), the racing arm for American Honda, announced the formation of its grass roots motorsports initiative, and today the company supplies engines and technical support to racers competing in a wide variety of entry-level and intermediate racing categories, including Quarter Midget, Karting, Formula F and Formula