Honda Claims IRL Manufacturers' Title

8/16/2004 1:08:37 AM

Two-thirds of the way through the 2004 season, Honda has clinched the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series Manufacturers' Championship with a dominating first through seventh sweep of the Belterra Casino Indy 300, won by Adrian Fernandez. It is the first IRL title for Honda, and comes in the company's second year in the IndyCar Series.

Through Sunday's race at Kentucky Speedway, Honda drivers and teams have posted 10 consecutive race wins in 2004, including both the Indianapolis 500, won by Rahal Letterman Racing's Buddy Rice; and Honda's "home" event at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit in Japan, won by Andretti Green Racing's Dan Wheldon.

"It has been a fantastic year for Honda in the IRL," said Robert Clarke, vice president and general manager for Honda Performance Development. "Although the results might make it seem otherwise, this has been a highly challenging year for HPD. with programs for the 'old' 3.5-liter engine at the start of the season, the utilization of the new 3.0-liter engine starting at Indianapolis, and the construction of HPD's new facility in California all taking place in the same time frame. This achievement is a tribute to the tremendous hard work and dedication of all our associates at HPD, our teams and drivers, and our technical partners."

The 2004 IRL Manufacturers' Championship continues a tradition of Honda excellence in a wide variety of racing categories, from motorcycle motocross competition to Formula One Grand Prix.

"To prevail in such a competitive series, and against such strong opposition from both Toyota and Chevrolet, makes this championship all the more special," said Yasuhiro Wada, president of Honda Performance Development. "The IRL IndyCar Series has proven to be a challenging and hard-fought championship, which makes us especially proud of this achievement."

Previous Honda racing titles have included four consecutive Formula One Constructors Championships (1988-91), three consecutive World Motocross titles (1979-81), eight Motorcycle Grand Prix championships in the last nine years, three consecutive IMSA Camel Lights titles, and four CART Manufacturers' Championships and six consecutive drivers' championships (1996-2001).

This season, Honda drivers and teams have dominated the IRL IndyCar victory column with 10 victories, and most other race weekend statistics as well. Honda drivers hold down the top three positions in the drivers championship, led by three-race winner Tony Kanaan of Andretti Green Racing, Rice and Wheldon. In addition, Super Aguri Fernandez Racing driver Kosuke Matsuura leads the IRL Rookie of the Year standings.

Honda Manufacturers' Championship Fast Stats

- Honda has won 10 consecutive races this season, starting with the second race at Phoenix International Raceway and continuing through the August 15 race at Kentucky Speedway.

- Honda drivers had led more than 83% of all laps run this season, a total of 1,894 out of 2,255 laps as of the Belterra Casino Indy 300.

- Honda race winners this year include Tony Kanaan (Phoenix, Texas and Nashville); Buddy Rice (the Indianapolis 500, Kansas and Michigan); Dan Wheldon (Twin Ring Motegi and Richmond); Dario Franchitti (Milwaukee); and Adrian Fernandez (Kentucky).

- Four of those nine victories have been 1-2-3 (or better) sweeps of the top finishing positions, and four have been 1-2 results for Honda.

- Honda swept the top seven finishing positions at Kentucky Speedway and this year's Indianapolis 500; ran first through sixth at Kansas Speedway; and finished 1-2-3 at the Michigan Indy 400. Honda drivers have finished 1-2 at Twin Ring Motegi, Texas, Richmond and Milwaukee.

- Honda drivers currently are 1-2-3 in the IRL Driver's Championship standings, and hold six of the top eight positions. Tony Kanaan, Buddy Rice and Dan Wheldon hold down the top three positions, with Dario Franchitti, Vitor Meira and Bryan Herta currently ranked sixth through eighth.

- Honda driver Kosuke Matsuura currently leads the IRL Rookie of the Year standings.

- Honda drivers also have claimed 10 of 11 pole positions this year in the IRL, including the last five in a row.

- Top Honda qualifiers are led by Buddy Rice with a series-leading five poles (Homestead, Indianapolis, Kansas, Nashville and Kentucky); Dan Wheldon (Phoenix and Twin Ring Motegi); Dario Franchitti (Texas); Vitor Meira (Milwaukee) and Tony Kanaan (Michigan).

- Honda drivers have qualified 1-7 at the Indianapolis 500; first through fifth at Twin Ring Motegi, Texas and Nashville; 1-2-3 at Milwaukee; and 1-2 at Phoenix, Michigan and Kentucky.

- The Belterra Casino Indy 300 was Honda's 27th race as an IRL IndyCar Series engine supplier. Coupled with the race wins recorded by Tony Kanaan (Phoenix) and Bryan Herta (Kansas) in 2003, Honda has won 11 of those 27 races.