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“When you go through tough times, it either breaks a team or makes it stronger, and I think it’s made us a lot stronger,” Servia said. “We had to grow together through the first four races and go through pain together. It’s not what you want to have, but I think it’s putting us in a great position coming into the 500, where we’re very hungry, and now we know we’re going to have the right tools to be fighting for the win and not just be dreaming about it.”

All the wrangling has left Lotus in sad shape.

DRR and Herta are gone and Simona de Silvestro with HVM Racing is currently the only full-time Lotus team. But the British engine manufacturer on Tuesday announced a deal to back 47-year-old former Formula One driver Jean Alesi for the 500. He’ll try to make the race driving for Fan Force United, an Indy Lights team co-owned by former driver Tyce Carlson, and will be making his IndyCar and oval debuts.

For Rubens Barrichello, another former F1 driver, it will be his first time around the oval at Indy. Barrichello raced at Indy in its F1 configuration, and he’s racing the full IndyCar season with KV Racing. But his test session Sunday night and Monday at Texas Motor Speedway was his first time on an oval.

Away from the track, the Chevy and Honda teams will be anxiously awaiting a ruling that could dramatically affect the competition. Honda received permission from IndyCar to make an alternation to its single turbocharger.

After four wins and four poles in four races for Chevrolet _ Penske Racing is so far perfect on the season _ Honda believes the new compressor cover on its turbocharger will reduce the power disadvantage it has to the twin turbochargers from Lotus and Chevy.

Chevy has vehemently opposed the change, and on Wednesday presented its final appeal in Indianapolis to retired Indiana Supreme Court Justice Theodore R. Boehm. His ruling will be binding, whenever it comes.

Honda teams were able to use the new compressor cover in the last outing, in Brazil, and even though Penske driver Will Power won his third consecutive race, Chevy teams believed Honda was much quicker with the change.

“It looks like Chevrolet had a great start, but Honda seems to come back very strong,” said three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves, who won this year’s season-opening race.

So it’s wide-open, even though it seems like nobody has had anything for Penske this year. That’s especially true for Power, who has been dominant in winning three straight and taking over the points lead.

But oval tracks are his weakness, so he’s not declaring himself the favorite. In fact, Power has no idea who would be the top pick.

“I think for the fans, going into it, you could not pick. I mean, who can you pick?” he asked. “I think it’s going to be exciting because there’s no clear favorite.”


AP Sports Writer Stephen Hawkins contributed to this report.