Graham Rahal: Turbo rules favor Chevrolet over Honda at Indianapolis

USA TODAY Sports

In an exclusive phone interview with SB Nation, IndyCar Series driver Graham Rahal explains why Chevrolet may have an advantage over Honda in the Indianapolis 500.

Graham Rahal says Chevrolet-powered teams will have an advantage during the Indianapolis 500, but it's not for a lack of effort by Honda or its teams, including Rahal-Letterman Racing who will power his effort on Sunday.

In a phone interview with SB Nation on Monday night, Rahal explained that the Chevrolet twin-powered turbo engine has a technical advantage over Honda's single turbocharger and that IndyCar has yet to level the playing the field between the two manufacturers.

The results of qualifying seem to agree with him, as Chevrolet took the first 10 spots in Indy 500 time trials, including all five Andretti Autosport drivers. Rahal equated the Andretti success to their sizeable budget but hopes that IndyCar will eventually balance the rulebook over the course of the season.

"It's no secret that Chevrolet has a huge advantage right now," Rahal said. "Their teams are aided by the twin turbo and Honda's just isn't equal right now. IndyCar has promised us that they will level the playing field but they haven't yet.

"The fact that the first Honda only qualified in 11th goes to show you the disparity in the sport right now."

The turbo dispute dates back to the beginning of last season when IndyCar allowed Honda to modify the compressor cover on its turbocharger. Chevrolet appealed and ultimately lost its challenge, but Honda teams still feel disadvantaged by the current rules package.

Nevertheless, Rahal still believes Honda will play a factor in the finish of the 500, citing the success of the manufacturer in last year's race.

Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon finished 1-2 despite Chevy and Marco Andretti dominating the early stages of the race. Rahal believes Sunday could play out in a similar manner, and he expects to be in the mix himself, despite starting 26th in the field of 33.

"On race day, I expect Honda to excel," Rahal said. "I'm not sure if the draft or boost level will make a difference, but Dario won last year despite Chevrolet leading the most laps. People don't seem to remember, but I ran in the top five all day, too, before a fuel pump issue dropped us down the running order.

"I think we are well-prepared as a team and there's no reason for me to expect that we can't win," Rahal said. "200 laps is a long time for us to work through the field, and we're definitely capable. I'm excited for Sunday."

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