Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Honda Already Has a Goodyear before Indy Run

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Honda Already Has a Goodyear before Indy Run

Article excerpt

Sunday's Indy 500 will be known as the year that the great Penske team got its comeuppance. No Penske car or driver will be in the 79th running of the world's most-famous auto race.

Then again, something as strange could also happen Sunday: The Indy 500 could be won by a driver named Goodyear on Firestone tires.

Scott Goodyear, starting on the outside of the front row, could roar into the history books, driving a Reynard Honda on Firestone tires into Victory Circle.

When Goodyear qualified faster with a Honda engine than any Ford Cosworth or Mercedes, it was automatic redemption for Honda, which left Indy in disgrace last year.

The Rahal-Hogan team couldn't get its cars up to qualifying speed with the developmental Honda engine. So Bobby Rahal scrapped the Honda and leased a couple of cars from Roger Penske to make the 1994 race. Shortly thereafter, the Rahal-Hogan team said it would no longer be connected with the Honda project.

Robert Clark, general manager of Honda Performance Development, was with Goodyear and car owner Steve Horne in the interview room on May 14 after Scott had gone 230.759 in the qualifying, scaring the daylights out of pole-sitter Scott Brayton, who qualified at 231.064 mph in a Lola Menard.

"We're thrilled to be where we are," Clark said. "To be honest, this is beyond our expectations. Last year was like a shot in the arm. We made organizational changes and gave our program a big boost, which is why we're here today."

St. Louisan Carl Hogan, who co-owns Rahal's team, was asked if he were surprised by the success of the Honda engine in the qualifying.

"I was surprised that they built an aluminum block engine," he said. "They told me they would never do that. We were 70 pounds too heavy with the Honda. There's still going to be the question here about reliability with that engine. They've tested it a little bit, but not much."

The Tasman Motorsports Group Inc., is the team that took over the development of the Honda project when Rahal-Hogan dropped out. The car owner and team manager is Horne, who also has had a rocky time of it in IndyCar racing of late. …

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