Sunday, May 29, 2016

Morning Warm-Up: 100th Indianapolis 500

It is race day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
James Hinchcliffe starts on pole position for the 100th Indianapolis 500. The Canadian will make his fifth Indianapolis 500 start and he looks to join Jacques Villeneuve as the second Canadian winner in the Indianapolis 500. One of Hinchcliffe's four IndyCar victories came on an oval. That was at Iowa in 2013. He started second that day and led 226 laps. Hinchcliffe was 12th fastest on Carb Day. In the middle of row one will be Josef Newgarden. The Tennessean has never started better than seventh in the Indianapolis 500. His worst finish in his last four oval starts is sixth and he finished second at Iowa and Pocono in that span. Newgarden has been the quickest of his three Ed Carpenter Racing teammates all month but he was 17th on Carb Day. Ryan Hunter-Reay starts on the outside of row one. Hunter-Reay started third in 2012 and retired in 27th after a suspension failure.

Townsend Bell matches his best Indianapolis 500 starting position in fourth position. He has three top ten finishes in nine Indianapolis 500 starts. His best finish was fourth in 2009. When Bell started fourth in 2011, he retired in 26th after an accident in turn one. Carlos Muñoz starts next to his Andretti Autosport teammate. Muñoz had his worst career start and finish in the Indianapolis 500 last year after starting 11th and finishing 20th, the final car on the lead lap. He enters with four consecutive finishes outside the top ten. Will Power rounds out the second row, his seventh consecutive Indianapolis 500 start on one of the first two rows. He started sixth in 2013 but was the final lead lap finisher in 19th.

Mikhail Aleshin starts on the inside of row three. Aleshin's only Indianapolis 500 start was from 15th in 2014. He finished one lap down in 21st but the Russian led one lap during the first cycle of pit stops. The Verizon IndyCar Series championship leader Simon Pagenaud starts next to his former Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammate and his current Team Penske teammate Hélio Castroneves. Pagenaud has won three races on the trot. The last driver to win four consecutive races was Sébastien Bourdais in 2006. Castroneves could become the fourth driver to win four Indianapolis 500s. He has won from 11th, 13th and pole position.

On row four, starting right behind his Schmidt Peterson teammate is Oriol Servià. This will be his second best start in the Indianapolis 500. He started third and finished sixth in 2011. This will be Servià's 199th IndyCar start. Alexander Rossi was the top rookie qualifier. He finished 14th in his only other oval start at Phoenix in April. Takuma Sato rounds out row four. The A.J. Foyt Racing driver has never finished better than 13th in the Indianapolis 500. This is only the second time Sato has started better than row six. He started tenth in 2011 but an accident after 20 laps made him the first retirement and placed him in 33rd.

Scott Dixon starts on the inside of row five. He started 13th in 2004 and 2005 and finished eighth and 24th in those respective races with a turn one accident being his fate in the latter race. Marco Andretti starts 14th, only the third time in 11 Indianapolis 500 starts he has started outside the first three rows. He finished third from 16th in 2010 and ninth from 27th in 2011. J.R. Hildebrand rounds out the fifth row. This is Hildebrand's second worst starting position in the Indianapolis 500. He started 18th in 2012 and completed all 200 laps, finishing in 14th.

Charlie Kimball starts 16th, his second best start in the Indianapolis 500. He finished third last year from 14th on the grid. Defending Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya is in the middle of row six. He has regressed every year in qualifying for the Indianapolis 500. After starting second in 2000, Montoya has started tenth, 15th and this year 17th. Tony Kanaan will be on the outside of row six. This is the fifth time Kanaan has started outside of the first three rows. He has two top ten finishes in his previous four starts outside the first three rows including his 2013 victory from 12th on the grid.

Sébastien Bourdais will start 19th, his second worst Indianapolis 500 starting position. His lone top ten finish in the Indianapolis 500 was seventh in 2014. Ed Carpenter will start 20th in car #20. Carpenter has three top ten finishes in 12 Indianapolis 500 starts. Sophomore starter Gabby Chaves rounds out row seven. He finished 16th from 26th last year, good enough to earn him Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year honors.

Rookie Max Chilton qualified on the inside of row eight. Two years ago, Chilton competed in the Monaco Grand Prix and last year he participated in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. His finished 14th in both his starts at Monaco and his Nissan GT-R LM Nismo retired after 234 laps at Le Mans. Sage Karam starts 23rd for his third Indianapolis 500. His last IndyCar start was last year at Pocono were he spun while leading with 21 laps to go. Conor Daly qualified 24th, one position off his best Indianapolis 500 starting position. He completed 198 laps in 2013 to finish 22nd and last year he failed to take the green flag after a fuel line let go on the pace laps.

Pippa Mann qualified 25th. She has had two accidents in preparations for the 100th Indianapolis 500. She spun in turn two in qualifying and spun in exiting turn four on Carb Day. Graham Rahal will be in the middle of row nine. He started 26th in 2013 and an accident in turn two classified him in 25th. He did finish third from 30th in 2011. Rookie Matthew Brabham rounds out row nine. He finished 16th in his IndyCar debut in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis two weeks ago.

Bryan Clauson qualified 28th, an Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar career best for Clauson. His best Indianapolis 500 finish is 12th. Rookie Spencer Pigot is in the middle of row ten. He has finished 14th and 11th in his two IndyCar starts this season at St. Petersburg and in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Stefan Wilson makes his Indianapolis 500 from 30th on the grid. His last oval race was in 2012 at Fontana in Indy Lights, where he finished sixth.

On the inside of the final row will be Jack Hawksworth. Last year's race ended prematurely for Hawksworth after he spun exiting turn four and collected Sebastián Saavedra and Stefano Coletti. Buddy Lazier makes his Indianapolis 500 return in the 32nd position. This is Lazier's fourth consecutive Indianapolis 500 start from the final row. Alex Tagliani will start 33rd after an accident in qualifying. He started 33rd in 2009 after replacing Bruno Junqueira in the #36 Honda for Conquest Racing. He finished 11th that day.

The 100th Indianapolis 500 can be seen on ABC with coverage starting at 11:00 a.m. ET and green flag is set for 12:12 p.m. ET.