Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hondas under Hood Have Hogan, Rahal Bringing Up Rear

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hondas under Hood Have Hogan, Rahal Bringing Up Rear

Article excerpt

Carl Hogan is not pleased with the status of his IndyCar team. Right now, he has the two slowest cars among the 30 that have qualified for the Indianapolis 500 on May 29.

After the 33-car field is filled, the Hogan cars may be among the first in line to be "bumped" when qualifying continues Saturday and Sunday.

"I don't think there is anybody more frustrated in racing than Bobby and myself," said Hogan, who owns a trucking company in St. Louis.

Hogan was on top of the racing world just two years ago when he and Bobby Rahal won the PPG Cup championship in their first year together.

They are co-owners of the IndyCar team, with Rahal the lead driver. Mike Groff drives their other car.

Last year, they came to Indy as defending IndyCar series champions. But they failed to make the field. The culprit was their new chassis, dubbed the R-H.

"If we had to do it again . . . we wouldn't have gone with the new chassis," Hogan said. "If we knew at the beginning what we found out halfway through the (development program), we would not have done it."

Things aren't much better for the team this year. It now has the proven Lola chassis, but . . . the engine is the unproven Honda V-8.

"I think I'm coming back next year with tried-and-true" equipment, Rahal said, half in jest. He added: "We're going to make this race, one way or another."

That could mean Rahal and Hogan might dump the Honda for a "tried-and-true" engine by this weekend. They also would have to buy different cars, because the Lolas in their garage are fitted to the Honda engine.

Hogan isn't second-guessing the decision to go with yet another developmental program, but he obviously is upset. "We expected more this year, as did Honda," he said. "The engine is in the developmental stage, and we're working hard. We're obviously down on straight-line speed, and it's something we're going to have to figure out."

The Honda doesn't look like a competitive engine at this point. Rahal, in the Miller Genuine Draft Lola-Honda, and Groff, in the Motorola Special Lola-Honda, averaged 220.178 mph and 218.808 mph, respectively, in qualifying. That's almost 10 mph slower than the top Mercedes-powered cars.

The Mercedes is producing about 1,000 horsepower. Hogan was asked how much horsepower the Honda was generating.

"I don't know," he said. "They won't tell me."

Apparently, the Honda Performance Development people are in complete control of the engine. So much so that not even the team's owners are privy to such particulars as horsepower.

"They say that's their business," Hogan said. "They say that's research and development, and privileged."

All Hogan knows at this point is that it hasn't been a privilege for Rahal to have the Honda engine.

"When you're going flat out through three of the four corners and barely making the show, you can't be happy with it," Hogan said. …

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