Honda “would jump at chance” to enter NASCAR if it “makes sense”

Automotive giant Honda is monitoring NASCAR’s future rules plan for its next generation of cars and engines, but says it would only join the premier stock car racing series’ ranks when it “makes sense” to do so from a budgetary perspective.

Honda “would jump at chance” to enter NASCAR if it “makes sense”

American Honda’s current top-line motorsport programs are engine supply in the IndyCar Series, and a dual program – via its luxury and performance brand Acura – in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Series.

During the IMSA finale at Road Atlanta’s Petit Le Mans, Motorsport.com asked Art St. Cyr – who was Honda Performance Development president until April, and is now VP and business head of Auto Operations for American Honda – for his corporate view of NASCAR racing.

“We always keep an eye on it,” said St. Cyr. “We look at it peripherally, right now. But it is something that interests us. Given the opportunity, we’d jump at the chance to do that as soon as it makes sense for us.”

Read Also:

St. Cyr added that the scale of NASCAR’s challenge and reach is both an attraction and a deterrent in terms of the effort required. That would likely mean switching its attentions solely to NASCAR at the expense of its other motorsport activities.

“From an engineering exercise, I’d love to do it,” he said. “But it’s a question of cost versus benefit, and – honestly – bandwidth. Because NASCAR is a huge undertaking, with 38 races and a lot of cars and engines to build each year, so it becomes a capacity issue.

“We can do IndyCar and IMSA and those types of things, or we can do NASCAR. And that’s not just cost-wise, that’s overall capability. We do all of our development, all of our engine builds, out of our HPD office at Santa Clarita. It has physical walls, and there’s only so much throughput that can happen inside them.

“To do NASCAR, say you need four cars. I don’t know but I’d imagine it’s maybe 20 engines per car so you’re looking at minimum of 80 engines [per season]. That’s a lot of engines you gotta crank through.”

Read Also:

New NASCAR chassis rules in 2021 will be followed by an updated powertrain in either 2022 or ’23, both moves aimed at slashing costs and attracting new manufacturers to join Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota. Some form of engine hybridization is also expected to be a part of the new powertrains, to make them more road-relevant to manufacturers.

St. Cyr said he was encouraged by NASCAR’s Gen-7 plan to reduce costs, coupled with the bold leadership shown by its chairman and CEO Jim France that he’s also experienced first hand in IMSA. But he maintained that budget spend of Honda’s racing programs would always play a key role in terms of its return on investment.

“It’s a reality of racing these days, to figure out how to do it cost effectively,” he said. “It’s not the unlimited budgets we’ve had before. You have to make sense of what you’re doing. For us, we race to develop our manpower, our human capital, to bring that into our road cars – that’s what we do; Honda has always done audacious things when it comes to racing! 

“There’s a famous quote from Mr Honda that says: ‘If we don’t race, then there is no Honda.’ That’s pretty self-explanatory. But we do need to realize where we need to race and what makes the most sense for us.”

Read Also:

Honda’s team links in both IMSA (Team Penske) and IndyCar (Chip Ganassi Racing) both have race-winning NASCAR operations. One buffer to Honda entering NASCAR’s ranks, however, is its lack of a large pickup truck in its automotive range, as NASCAR has traditionally expected manufacturers to supply cars to teams in all of its top three tiers – Cup, Xfinity and Trucks.

St Cyr added: “Traditionally, the reason to be in NASCAR is to show your trucks – and we don’t really have a full-size truck to compete with the manufacturers that are in there right now.” 

UPDATE: Here's how 2009 Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button responded to our story on Wednesday evening...

 
Motorsport.com’s fantasy Honda NASCAR Cup future concept

Motorsport.com’s fantasy Honda NASCAR Cup future concept

Photo by: Camille De Bastiani

shares
comments
Truex finds himself in "new territory" at Homestead this year

Previous article

Truex finds himself in "new territory" at Homestead this year

Next article

Chevrolet unveils revised Camaro ZL1 for Cup Series

Chevrolet unveils revised Camaro ZL1 for Cup Series
Load comments
From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview Prime

From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview

The death of Dale Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500 shocked NASCAR to the core. At the Daytona 24 Hours, two weeks before his fatal accident, ‘The Intimidator’ shared his expectations of challenging for an eighth Cup title with JONATHAN INGRAM, in an article first published in the 15 February 2001 issue of Autosport magazine. Little did we know then what tragedy would unfold…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death Prime

The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death

On February 18, 2001, seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Dale Earnhardt – the fearless ‘Intimidator’ – was in his element at Daytona International Speedway. While his own DEI team’s cars ran 1-2 towards the finish line, his famed #3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo was playing rear gunner to block any late runs from the chasing pack. As the cars tore through Turns 3 and 4 on that fateful final lap, Earnhardt maintained the strongarm tactics that encapsulated his persona… but his actions in those moments sadly proved to be his last.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR Prime

Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR

The NASCAR Cup Series is changing. Whether it be the gradual morphing out the seasoned drivers of yesterday as the next generation step up, a radical calendar shake-up featuring more road courses than ever before and the prospect of an all-new car on the horizon, stock car racing’s highest level is nearing the end of a huge facelift.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2021
The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021 Prime

The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 13, 2021
Why Kyle Larson can't blow his big shot at redemption Prime

Why Kyle Larson can't blow his big shot at redemption

From a disgraced NASCAR exile, Kyle Larson has been given a chance of redemption by the powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports squad. Effectively replacing seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson is no easy billing, but Larson has every intention of repaying the team's faith...

NASCAR Cup
Feb 11, 2021
Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon Prime

Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon

In this exclusive one-on-one interview, Roger Penske reveals the inner drive that has made him not only a hugely successful team owner and businessman but also the owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar. He spoke to David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Dec 28, 2020
Why NASCAR's latest second-generation champion is just getting started Prime

Why NASCAR's latest second-generation champion is just getting started

Chase Elliott's late charge to the 2020 NASCAR Cup title defied predictions that it would be a Kevin Harvick versus Denny Hamlin showdown. While the two veterans are showing no signs of slowing down, Elliott's triumph was a window into NASCAR's future…

NASCAR Cup
Nov 18, 2020
Why Kyle Larson deserves his second chance in a cancel culture Prime

Why Kyle Larson deserves his second chance in a cancel culture

“You can’t hear me? Hey n*****” Those fateful words uttered by Kyle Larson, spoken into his esports headset on April 12, were directed at his sim racing spotter – but instead they quickly became amplified around the world via social media, including his own Twitch stream.

NASCAR Cup
Oct 29, 2020