Fourteen of the 26 drivers at the IZOD IndyCar season’s finale race at Auto Club Speedway will have new engines,and all those changes are over the allotted five engines allowed for the season – 1850 miles on each. Ten grid positions penalties are assessed for “unapproved engine changes.”
It will almost be like a reverse starting grid.
The MAVTV 500 race is the last of fifteen 2012 races, running 500 miles on an oval. Most manufacturers, teams and drivers want to run the best they can, and many consider starting position isn’t as crucial for this race.
The twenty-six car field has 25 regulars and an additional car for Andretti Autosport – SEBASTIAN SAAVEDRA/No.17 Chevrolet.
Fourteen cars are running Chevrolet engines, eleven have Honda engines, and Lotus is down to just one driver – SIMONA de SILVESTRO/No.78 Lotus-HVM Racing.
The top four drivers mathematically still in the running for the Ascot Cup all fitted with new engines. Current points leader, WILL POWER/No.12 Team Penske Chevrolet and closest championship contender, RYAN HUNTER-REAY/No.23 Andretti Autosport Chevrolet will start on their sixth engine. Still within reach in third place, HELIO CASTRONEVES/No.3 Team Penske Chevrolet, will also have his sixth engine. Fourth contender, SCOTT DIXON/No.9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda will start with his seventh engine.
Two of the drivers are on their ninth engine – TAKUMA SATO/No.15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda and de SILVESTRO.
Friday’s schedule calls for IZOD IndyCar to run a 90 minute practice, 90 minutes of Qualifying and the final 45-minute practice ending at 6:30pm. The Firestone Indy Lights Series has a 45-minute practice at the beginning and end of the day, and an hour of qualifying midday. The Indy Lights drivers also have an afternoon autograph session in INDYCAR Fan Village.
The Friday temperatures were already near 100 F degrees F before any track activity.