Thursday, May 25, 2017

Track Walk: 101st Indianapolis 500

The Indianapolis 500 is approaching, will weather cooperate?
This weekend marks the 101st Indianapolis 500. Seventy drivers have won the famed event and seven previous winners are in this year's field, five of which are looking for their second victory while one is going for his third and another chases a historic fourth while 26 drivers vie for the honor to become the 71st different winner of the Indianapolis 500. This race also marks the sixth race of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season. There have been five different winners through the first five races of the season.

Coverage
Time: Coverage begins at 11:00 a.m. ET on Sunday May 28th. Green flag at 12:19 p.m. ET.
TV Channel: ABC.
Announcers: Allen Bestwick, Scott Goodyear and Eddie Cheever in the booth with Rick DeBruhl, Dr. Jerry Punch and Jon Beekhius working the pit lane.

Indianapolis 500 Weekend Schedule
Carb Day:
Practice- 11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. ET (1 hour). NBCSN will have live coverage.
Pit Stop Competition- 1:30-3:30 p.m. ET (2 hours). NBCSN will have live coverage.
Sunday:
Race- 12:19 p.m. ET (200 laps).

The Starting Grid
Row 1:
Scott Dixon
This will be Dixon's 15th Indianapolis 500 start.
2008 Indianapolis 500 winner.
Car #9 has won the Indianapolis 500 four times with Dixon's 2008 victory being the most recent.
Twenty times has pole-sitter won the race, most recently Hélio Castroneves in 2009.
Dixon's lone Indianapolis 500 victory came from pole position and this is Dixon's third Indianapolis 500 pole position.

Ed Carpenter 
This will be Carpenter's 14th Indianapolis 500 start.
Best Finish: 5th (2008)
Car #20 has won the Indianapolis 500 three times but not since Emerson Fittipaldi in 1989.
Eleven times has the winner started second, most recently Juan Pablo Montoya in 2000.
Carpenter has only three top ten finishes in the Indianapolis 500.

Alexander Rossi
This will be Rossi's second Indianapolis 500 start.
He is the defending Indianapolis 500 winner.
Rossi's victory was the fourth time the #98 has won the Indianapolis 500.
Eleven times has the winner started third, most recently Dario Franchitti in 2010.
This will be Rossi's best career IndyCar start and his first career front start.

Row 2: 
Takuma Sato
This will be Sato's eighth Indianapolis 500 start.
Best Finish: 13th (2013, 2015).
Car #26 has won the Indianapolis 500 once, Dan Wheldon 2005.
Six times has the winner started fourth, most recently Bobby Rahal in 1986.
Sato's previous best Indianapolis 500 starting position was tenth in 2011.

Fernando Alonso
This will be Alonso's first Indianapolis 500 start.
Car #29 has never won the Indianapolis 500.
Seven times has the winner started fifth, most recently Buddy Lazier in 1996.
Alonso finished second in his most recent appearance at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2007 United States Grand Prix.

J.R. Hildebrand
This will be Hildebrand's eighth Indianapolis 500 start.
Best Finish: 2nd (2011).
Car #21 has never won the Indianapolis 500.
Five times has the winner started sixth, most recently Dan Wheldon in 2011.
This is the tenth top ten starting position for Hildebrand in his career. Nine of those starts have come on an oval and this is his fourth it ten start in the Indianapolis 500.

Row 3:
Tony Kanaan
This will be Kanaan's 16th Indianapolis 500 start.
2013 Indianapolis 500 winner.
Car #10 has won the Indianapolis once, Dario Franchitti 2010.
Five times has the winner started seventh, most recently A.J. Foyt in 1961.
This is Kanaan's second time starting on row three. He started eighth in 2012 and finished third.

Marco Andretti
This will be Andretti's 12th Indianapolis 500 start.
Best Finish: 2nd (2006).
Car #27 has won the Indianapolis 500 three times, most recently with Dario Franchitti in 2007.
Twice has the winner started eighth, most recently Kenny Bräck in 1999.
This is the ninth time Andretti has started within one of the first three rows for the Indianapolis 500. He started eighth in the 2009 race and was involved in a turn one, lap one accident with Mario Moraes. He also started eighth in 2015 and finished sixth.

Will Power
This will be Power's tenth Indianapolis 500 start.
Best Finish: 2nd (2015).
Car #12 has won the Indianapolis 500 once. Peter DePaolo won in 1925 driving the #12 Miller.
Only once has the winner started ninth and that was Arie Luyendyk in 1993.
This matches Power's second-worst starting position in the Indianapolis 500. He started ninth in 2009 and finished fifth.

Row 4:
Ryan Hunter-Reay
This will be Hunter-Reay's tenth Indianapolis 500 start.
2014 Indianapolis 500 winner.
Hunter-Reay's 2014 victory is the only Indianapolis 500 victory for car #28.
Twice has the winner started tenth, most recently Gil de Ferran in 2003.
Hunter-Reay has not won a race in his last 22 IndyCar starts.

Ed Jones
This will be Jones' first Indianapolis 500 start.
Car #19 has never won the Indianapolis 500.
Alexander Rossi became the third driver to win from 11th with his victory last year.
Jones will become the first Emirati driver to start the Indianapolis 500 and the United Arab Emirates will become the 28th different country to have a driver start the Indianapolis 500.

Oriol Servià
This will be Servià's ninth Indianapolis 500 start.
Best Finish: 4th (2012).
Car #16 has won the Indianapolis 500 four times but not since George Robson in 1946.
Twice has the winner started 12th, most recently Tony Kanaan in 2013.
This marks Servià's 200th IndyCar start. This will be his 60th oval start. His best finish on an oval is second (2003 Milwaukee, 2005 Las Vegas and 2011 Loudon).

Row 5:
Mikhail Aleshin
This will be Aleshin's third Indianapolis 500 start.
Best Finish: 21st (2014).
Car #7 has won the Indianapolis 500 twice but not since Bill Holland in 1949.
Four times has the winner start 13th, most recently Hélio Castroneves in 2002.
This is the second time Aleshin has started on row five.

Graham Rahal 
This will be Rahal's tenth Indianapolis 500 start.
Best Finish: 3rd (2011).
Car #15 has won the Indianapolis 500 three times, most recently with Buddy Rice in 2004.
Only once has the winner started 14th and that was Bob Sweikert in 1955.
This is Rahal's seventh consecutive Indianapolis 500 start from outside the top ten and eighth time overall.

Max Chilton
This will be Chilton second Indianapolis 500 start.
Best Finish: 15th (2016).
Car #8 has won the Indianapolis 500 three times but not since Pat Flaherty in 1956.
Four times has the winner started 15th, most recently Juan Pablo Montoya in 2015.
Chilton is coming off matching his career-best IndyCar finish after he finished seventh in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

Row 6:
Charlie Kimball
This will be Kimball's seventh Indianapolis 500 start.
Best Finish: 3rd (2015).
Car #83 has never won the Indianapolis 500.
Twice has the winner started 16th, most recently Dario Franchitti in 2012.
Kimball has four top ten finishes in six Indianapolis 500 starts despite never starting better than 14th in the race.

James Hinchcliffe
This will be Hinchcliffe's seventh Indianapolis 500 start.
Best Finish: 6th (2012).
Car #5 has won the Indianapolis 500 six times but not since Arie Luyendyk in 1997.
Twice has the winner started 17th, most recently Eddie Cheever in 1998.
This is Hinchcliffe's worst Indianapolis 500 starting position. This is the first time Hinchcliffe enters the Indianapolis 500 with consecutive finishes outside the top ten.

Juan Pablo Montoya
This will be Montoya's fifth Indianapolis 500 start.
Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner (2000, 2015)
Car #22 has never won the Indianapolis 500.
The best finish for the 18th-starter is second, which occurred in 1920 by René Thomas and in 2009 and 2010 by Dan Wheldon.
Every one of Montoya's Indianapolis 500 starts has come from further back on the grid going from second to tenth to 15th to 17th to now 18th.

Row 7:
Hélio Castroneves
This will be Castroneves' 17th Indianapolis 500 start.
Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner (2001, 2002, 2009).
Car #3 has won the Indianapolis 500 eleven times, the most victories for a car number. Castroneves' 2009 victory was the most recent for car #3.
Twice has the winner started 19th, most recently Ryan Hunter-Reay in 2014.
This is Castroneves' worst start in the Indianapolis 500. This is also Castroneves' eighth attempt to win his fourth Indianapolis 500.

Jay Howard
This will be Howard's second Indianapolis 500 start.
Best Finish: 30th (2011).
Car #77 has never won the Indianapolis 500.
Three times has the winner started 20th, most recently Al Unser in 1987.
This is Howard's first IndyCar appearance since the abandoned Las Vegas race in 2011. His most recent start was the second race of the Texas doubleheader in 2011. In Howard's previous 12 IndyCar starts he has never finished on the lead lap.

Sage Karam
This will be Karam's fourth Indianapolis 500 start.
Best Finish: 9th (2014).
Car #24 has won the Indianapolis 500 once, Graham Hill 1966.
Only once has the winner started 21st and that was L.L. Corum and Joe Boyer in 1924.
Karam has finished 32nd the last two years after accidents in turn one.

Row 8:
Josef Newgarden
This will be Newgarden's sixth Indianapolis 500 start.
Best Finish: 3rd (2016).
Car #2 has won the Indianapolis 500 nine times, most recently with Juan Pablo Montoya in 2015.
Twice has the winner started 22nd, most recently Kelly Petillo in 1935.
A Team Penske entry has never won the Indianapolis 500 from outside the top twenty on the grid.

Simon Pagenaud
This will be Pagenaud's sixth Indianapolis 500 start.
Best Finish: 8th (2013).
Car #1 has won the Indianapolis 500 seven times but not since Al Unser in 1971.
The best finish for the 23rd-starter was second is second by Wilbur Shaw in 1933.
With Dixon winning pole position, Pagenaud now finds himself second in the championship, 21 points behind Dixon.

Carlos Muñoz
This will be Muñoz's fifth Indianapolis 500 start.
Best Finish: 2nd (2013, 2016).
Car #14 has won the Indianapolis 500 six times, most recently with Kenny Bräck in 1999.
The best finish for the 24th-starter was fourth on five occasions (Denny Hulme in 1967, Mel Kenyon in 1969, Sammy Sessions in 1972, Eliseo Salazar in 1995 and Townsend Bell in 2009).
A.J. Foyt Racing has not had a top ten in the Indianapolis 500 since Darren Manning finished ninth in 2008.

Row 9:
Gabby Chaves
This will be Chaves third Indianapolis 500 start.
Best Finish: 16th (2015).
Car #88 has never won the Indianapolis 500.
Only once has the winner started 25th and that was Johnny Rutherford in 1974.
This race is the debut for Harding Racing and the team will also contest Texas and Pocono later this season.

Conor Daly
This is the fourth time Daly has qualified for the Indianapolis 500 and hopefully he will make his third start.
Best Finish: 22nd (2013).
Car #4 has won the Indianapolis 500 five times but not since Emerson Fittipaldi in 1993. 
The best finish for the 26th-starter was third by Don Freeland in 1956 and by Paul Goldsmith in 1960.
Daly is still looking for his first top ten finish on his oval. His best career oval finish was 14th at Phoenix earlier this year but he finished 70 laps down.

Jack Harvey
This will be Harvey's first Indianapolis 500 start.
Car #50 has won the Indianapolis 500 once, Dario Franchitti 2012.
Only once has the winner started 27th and that was by Fred Frame in 1932.
Harvey will become the 27th British driver to start the Indianapolis 500.

Row 10:
Pippa Mann
This will be Mann's sixth Indianapolis 500 start.
Best Finish: 18th (2016).
Car #63 has never won the Indianapolis 500.
Twice has the winner started 28th, the inaugural winner Ray Harroun in 1911 and Louis Meyer in 1936.
This will be Mann's fifth Indianapolis 500 start with Dale Coyne Racing. No driver has made more Indianapolis 500 starts with Dale Coyne Racing.

Spencer Pigot
This will be Pigot's second Indianapolis 500 start.
Best Finish: 25th (2016).
Car #11 has won the Indianapolis 500 once, Tony Kanaan 2013.
The best finish for the 29th-starter was second in 1911 by Ralph Mulford and in 2002 by Paul Tracy.
This race is the debut for Juncos Racing. Pigot won the 2015 Indy Lights championship with Juncos Racing.

Buddy Lazier
This will be Lazier's 20th Indianapolis 500 start.
1996 Indianapolis 500 winner.
Car #44 has never won the Indianapolis 500.
The best finish for the 30th-starter was fourth in 1936 by Mauri Rose.
If he takes the green flag, Lazier will join A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Al Unser, Johnny Rutherford, Gordon Johncock, George Snider and Gary Bettenhausen as drivers with at least 20 Indianapolis 500 starts.

Row 11:
Sebastián Saavedra
This will be Saavedra's sixth Indianapolis 500 start.
Best Finish: 15th (2014).
The best finish for the 31st-start was fourth in 1951 by Andy Linden.
Car #17 has won the Indianapolis 500 once, Dario Resta 1916.
This is the third time Saavedra has started on the last row.

Zach Veach
This will be Veach's first Indianapolis 500 start.
Car #40 has never won the Indianapolis 500.
The best finish for the 32nd-starter was second in 1957 by Jim Rathmann and in 1981 by Mario Andretti.
This is the first time the #40 will be in the Indianapolis 500 since Dr. Jack Miller used it in 1998.

James Davison
This will be Davison's third Indianapolis 500 start.
Best Finish: 16th (2014).
Car #18 has never won the Indianapolis 500.
The best finish for the 33rd-starter was second in 1980 by Tom Sneva and 1992 by Scott Goodyear.
Davison replaces the injured Sébastien Bourdais. Davison will not be the first driver to start the Indianapolis 500 without making a qualifying attempt. Ralph Mulford in 1920 and Jack Curtner in 1922 both started the race despite not making a qualifying attempt. This is Davison's first IndyCar start since the 2015 Indianapolis 500.

Freedom 100
For the 15th time, Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosts the Freedom 100 for the Indy Lights series on Carb Day. This is the seventh round of the 2017 Indy Lights season and it is the first of three oval races.

Kyle Kaiser took the championship lead after winning race two of the IMS road course weekend and the Juncos Racing driver has four consecutive podiums. The Californian sits on 139 points, 13 points ahead of Andretti Autosport's Nico Jamin, who has won two of the last four races. Colton Herta dropped from the championship lead to third after a tire puncture and electrical issues cost him in both IMS road course races. Herta sits on 121 points. Carlin's Neil Alberico rounds out the top four on 103 points.

Belardi Auto Racing's Aaron Telitz sits fifth in the championship on 97 points ahead of the Carlin drivers Matheus Liest on 89 points. Carlin's Zachary Claman DeMelo and Telitz's teammate Santiago Urrutia are tied on 87 points with Urrutia holding the tiebreaker with more second-place finishes. Belardi's third driver Shelby Blackstock is on 80 points with Juncos' Nicolas Dapero rounding out the top ten on 71 points.

Andretti drivers Ryan Norman and Dalton Kellett sit on 71 points and 64 points respectively. Juan Piedrahita of Team Pelfrey has 55 points but is coming off his best finish of the season after he finished fifth in the second IMS road course race. Carlin's Garth Rickards sits on 54 points.

Herta was the fastest at the Indy Lights test at the Speedway on Monday with a lap at 200.070 MPH with Telitz second fastest. Leist, Alberico and Piedrahita rounded out the top five on the day with DeMelo sixth quickest.

The field is evenly split with seven Freedom 100 veterans and seven Freedom 100 rookies. Kellett finished third in last year's race and he has the best finish of the veterans. Twelve different drivers have won the Freedom 100 with Wade Cunningham being the only driver to win the race multiple times as the New Zealander won three times. Ed Carpenter and Josef Newgarden are the only Americans to win the Freedom 100. Last year, Dean Stoneman won the Freedom 100 by 0.024 seconds over Ed Jones, the closest finish in the history of Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

NBCSN's coverage of the Freedom 100 begins Friday after Carb Day practice at noon ET. The 40-lap race is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. ET.

Fun Facts
This will be the seventh Indianapolis 500 to take place on May 28th (1978, 1979, 1989, 1995, 2000, 2006). The winners those respective years were Al Unser, Rick Mears, Emerson Fittipaldi, Jacques Villeneuve, Juan Pablo Montoya and Sam Hornish, Jr.

The only other IndyCar race run on May 28th was the Wheeler-Schebler Trophy Race held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1910 and won by Ray Harroun.

The last seven Indianapolis 500s have averaged over 160 MPH.

The last six Indianapolis 500s have had the winning pass occur on lap 197 or later.

The last five Indianapolis 500s have had the five most lead changes in the event's history.

This year's grid features:

13 Americans.

Four Colombians.

Four Britons.

Two Spaniards.

Two Brazilians.

Two Australians.

One New Zealander.

One Japanese.

One Emirati.

One Russian

One Canadian and...

One Frenchman.

Ed Carpenter, Josef Newgarden, Gabby Chaves and Jack Harvey could become the first driver to win the Freedom 100 and the Indianapolis 500.

Will Power, Simon Pagenaud, Marco Andretti and Ed Jones look to join Alex Lloyd, Jack Harvey and Dean Stoneman as the only drivers to win both on the oval and road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The pole-sitter has failed to win the last seven Indianapolis 500s.

All five Indianapolis 500s in the DW12-era have been won from outside the top ten.

The average starting position for an Indianapolis 500 winner is 7.62 with a median of five.

The average number of lead changes in the Indianapolis 500 is 13.01 with a median of ten.

The average number of cautions in the Indianapolis 500 is 7.738 with a median of eight. The average number of caution laps is 44.47 with a median of 43.5.

This will be the 68th Indianapolis 500 victory for Firestone.

This will be the 17th Indianapolis 500 victory for Dallara. Dallara is the all-time leader in Indianapolis 500 victories for chassis manufactures.

Should Honda win, it would be Honda's 12th Indianapolis 500 victory, putting Honda in a tie for second all-time in Indianapolis 500 victories for engine manufactures with Miller.

Should Chevrolet win, it will be its tenth Indianapolis 500 victory, putting Chevrolet level with Cosworth for third all-time.

Possible Milestones:
Hélio Castroneves needs to lead 133 laps to surpass Al Unser for fourth most laps led in IndyCar history.

Scott Dixon needs to lead 66 laps to reach the 5,000 laps led milestone.

Tony Kanaan needs to lead 4 laps to reach the 4,000 laps led milestone.

Marco Andretti needs to lead 10 laps to reach the 1,000 laps led milestone.

Simon Pagenaud needs to lead 153 laps to reach the 1,000 laps led milestone.

Josef Newgarden needs to lead 5 laps to reach the 700 laps led milestone.

Ed Carpenter needs to lead 95 laps to reach the 400 laps led milestone.

Predictions
Another race with three-dozen to four-dozen lead changes. At least two Honda engine failures but Honda also leads majority of the laps completed. Sage Karam and at least two of the Penskes will pick their way into the top ten. Fernando Alonso will lead at least one lap. At least five Indianapolis 500 veterans will improve on their career-best finish in this race. There will be a pass for the lead in the final five laps.