Monday, May 31, 2021

Musings From the Weekend: More Indianapolis 500 Thoughts

Hélio Castroneves is a four-time Indianapolis 500 winner. Meyer Shank Racing is an IndyCar winning team. Carlos Sainz is talking about age and weight. Supercars postponed its race weekend at Winton. Mercedes finally got the right front removed from Valtteri Bottas' car. BMW has fuel concerns ahead of the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters season opener at Monza. The NASCAR Truck Series will not be going to Mosport. It was a record-breaking night in the Coca-Cola 600.

Sadly, there were two notable passings. Former FIA president Max Mosley passed away from cancer last week. Mosley was 81 years old. Yesterday, Moto3 rider Jason Dupasquier succumbed to injuries suffered in a qualifying accident ahead of the Mugello round. Dupasquier was 19 years old. 

More Indianapolis 500 Thoughts
I had nothing planned for today and nothing major came up this weekend at Indianapolis. We didn't have the "should a race finish under caution" hullabaloo. We didn't have another Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year kerfuffle. We had a good race and don't have to talk about downforce and the aero package.

Let's just talk about the race. There is plenty to talk about after this Indianapolis 500, and you cannot get to all of it in the immediate aftermath. You really can use the next three days to cover every loose end of this race. We aren't going to get to all of them, but we are going to cover a bunch. 

1. To put Hélio Castroneves' Indianapolis 500 career into perspective, not only did he win his fourth and become the fourth four-time winner, but that victory was his ninth top five finish. How many drivers have nine top five finishes in the Indianapolis 500?

Al Unser, A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears, Ted Horn and Hélio Castroneves. 

That's it. That's the list. Castroneves now has 15 top ten finishes. How many drivers have 15 top ten finishes in the Indianapolis 500? 

Unser, Foyt, Castroneves. 

This was the 19th Indianapolis 500 Castroneves has finished. How many drivers have finished 19 Indianapolis 500s?

Castroneves. That's the list. His only retirements were 2006 and 2018. 

He has led a lap in 13 Indianapolis 500s. Only Tony Kanaan and now Scott Dixon have led more. Both Kanaan and Dixon have led 14 Indianapolis 500s. 

Castroneves victory also has him 14th in the championship on 103 points. Castroneves is 18 points behind his Meyer Shank Racing teammate Jack Harvey and Castroneves is two points ahead of Alexander Rossi.

2. Álex Palou has led a lap in every race this season. The last driver to open a season with a lap led in the first six race was Sébastien Bourdais in 2018. Bourdais then didn't lead another lap that season after the sixth race. 

On top of that, Palou now leads the championship with 248 points and he has a 36-point lead over his teammate Scott Dixon. That is a significant lead. It is surmountable, but if Palou keeps up his results, the Spaniard will be there at the end of the championship. 

Also, did anyone else think Palou's NTT Data livery this weekend at Indianapolis looked like the Team Player's liveries from the 1990s? I had a Jacques Villeneuve flashback during the race. 

3. Speaking of Scott Dixon, he finished 17th at Indianapolis, and that snapped his streak of 15 consecutive top ten finishes. Impressive. Dixon did lead seven laps and he tied Kanaan for most Indianapolis 500s led at 14 total. 

4. Yesterday's race was the fourth 500-mile IndyCar race to break an average speed of 190 mph. The fastest 500-mile race was at Pocono in 2014, which Juan Pablo Montoya won at 202.402 mph. Jimmy Vasser won at Fontana in 2002 at 197.995 mph. Tony Kanaan's victory at the 2014 Fontana season finale was won at 196.111 mph. 

Though Castroneves won this year's Indianapolis 500 at 190.690 mph, it isn't even the fastest IndyCar race he has won. He won the 400-mile race at Michigan in 2006 at 193.972 mph, the tenth fastest race in IndyCar history.

5. Castroneves has completed 3,998 laps in Indianapolis 500 competition. He is two laps away from joining A.J. Foyt and Al Unser as the only drivers with 4,000 laps led in an Indianapolis 500 career. He is 911 laps away from tying Foyt's record. 

This was the 15th time Castroneves has completed all 500 miles. He already held that record. 

6. Six of the top ten finishers from the Indianapolis 500 will not be at the next IndyCar race at Belle Isle. 

Remember ten years ago when people wondered if Dan Wheldon not being in the next IndyCar race was good or bad for the series? We haven't had those conversations pop up after Castroneves' victory yet, but I don't think it will. That is progress. People are comfortable with where IndyCar stands. 

7. Sage Karam was the seventh. It is his first top ten finish in 12 starts. It is his first top ten finish in 2,143 days. That is five years, ten months and 12 days. Karam also led two laps yesterday. It was the first time he has led since the 2016 Indianapolis 500 when he led two laps. It was the fourth time Karam has led in his career and all four of those races have been 500-mile races. He led at Fontana and Pocono in 2015.

8. Castroneves won from eighth on the grid. It is the first time an Indianapolis 500 winner has started on row three since Kenny Bräck won from eighth in 1999. Row three has been a desert for Indianapolis 500 winners. Seventh has not produced a winner in 60 years when A.J. Foyt won his first Indianapolis 500 in 1961. The only time the winner has started ninth was Emerson Fittipaldi in 1993.

9. Juan Pablo Montoya has the 12th best average finish among the 258 drivers with at least five Indianapolis 500 starts after finishing ninth this year. Montoya has finished first, fifth, first, 33rd, sixth and ninth. Imagine what his average would be if he did not spin in turn two in 2016.

10. Tony Kanaan picked up his 11th top ten finish in the Indianapolis 500. It was the 11th time he has completed all 500 miles. Kanaan has completed 3,551 laps in the Indianapolis 500. That is 8,877.5 miles. He ranks fourth all-time in mileage completed in an Indianapolis 500 career. 

11. Looking at the championship, 47 points cover Álex Palou in first and Simon Pagenaud in fourth. One hundred points separate Palou and Graham Rahal in eighth. Will Power is 120 points back in 12th. 

12. Eight drivers had to serve a penalty for emergency service in a closed pit on lap 45. 

13. Conor Daly led 40 laps in this year's race. Prior to this race, the most laps he had led in a race was 22 at Mid-Ohio in 2016. He had only led 18 laps on an oval in his career and 17 of those laps came in the Iowa doubleheader last season. He also led one lap at Gateway in 2019.

14. Circling back to the championship, Hélio Castroneves is 14th with 103 points. Alexander Rossi is 15th on 101 points. Ed Carpenter is 16th with 99 points. Ryan Hunter-Reay is 17th on 94 points, Sébastien Bourdais is 18th on 89 points, Conor Daly is 19th on 85 points and Felix Rosenqvist rounds out the top twenty on 82 points. 

15. J.R. Hildebrand has been running at the finish of ten of 11 Indianapolis 500 starts. He has completed 2,002 of 2,200 laps. Hildebrand failed to complete 197 laps in 2013 after he had an accident in turn one and that was promptly fired from Panther Racing after that result. The only other time he was a lap down was in 2019. 

16. Colton Herta was the top Andretti Autosport finisher in 16th. It is the first time Andretti Autosport failed to have a top fifteen finisher sine Long Beach 2017. It is the first time the team failed to have at least one top ten finisher in the Indianapolis 500. 

17. The top sixteen finishers all completed this year's race at an average speed above 190 mph. Who missed out on the 190-mph club? Scott Dixon in 17th. How much did he miss it by? Oh, 0.087 mph or about 4.34 seconds. 

18. Every time Hélio Castroneves has won the Indianapolis 500, the Los Angeles Lakers has gone onto win the NBA championship. Don't worry Lakers fans. You got this. This 2-2 series with Phoenix will end in your favor and so will the three rounds after it. Castroneves said so. 

19. Marco Andretti has finished outside the top fifteen of his last six IndyCar starts and Andretti has finished outside the top ten of his last eight starts. 

20. Chip Ganassi Racing will have to wait at least a full decade between Indianapolis 500 victories. The team has not won since Dario Franchitti's third in 2012. That was the first Indianapolis 500 in the DW12-era. It is not set in stone when the next chassis will come, but we know it will likely be in 2024 at the earliest. There is a chance Ganassi could not win another Indianapolis 500 in this era. From 2008 to 2012, Ganassi won three of five Indianapolis 500s. 

Scott Dixon has been around all these years. Tony Kanaan has been a regular for the team. Ryan Briscoe, Charlie Kimball, Sage Karam, Sebastián Saavedra, Max Chilton, Ed Jones, Felix Rosenqvist and Marcus Ericsson have all started an Indianapolis 500 for Ganassi since its last Indianapolis 500 victory. And next year, Jimmie Johnson could be making his Indianapolis 500 debut. 

It is hard to fathom it has been this long. We thought Team Penske's wait between Castroneves in 2009 and Juan Pablo Montoya's second in 2015 was a significant drought. Ganassi is trapped in hell in comparison. 

21. In nine Indianapolis 500 starts, James Hinchcliffe has finished better than his starting position once. That was when he started 32nd in 2019. 

22. Santino Ferrucci picked up fastest lap in yesterday's race with a lap at 39.5874 seconds, an average speed of 227.345 mph. Ferrucci's lap came on lap 116. It was the fastest the fastest lap has been since Tony Kanaan ran a 39.2692-second, 229.187 mph lap on lap 100 of the 2003 race.
 
23. Twelve different drivers have scored fastest lap in the last 12 Indianapolis 500s (Will Power, Dario Franchitti, Marco Andretti, Justin Wilson, Juan Pablo Montoya, Charlie Kimball, Alexander Rossi, Takuma Sato, Hélio Castroneves, Scott Dixon, James Hinchcliffe and Ferrucci).

24. We have had six different winners from the first six IndyCar races this season. Dating back to last season, we have had eight different winners in the last eight races. Five teams have won this season. The six winners this season represent six different nationalities. 

And we still haven't had Team Penske win a race this season!

25. Scott McLaughlin was the top finishing rookie in 20th. It ends a streak of five consecutive years with an Indianapolis 500 rookie finishing in the top ten. Alexander Rossi won in 2016. Ed Jones was third in 2017, but Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year honors went to Fernando Alonso. Robert Wickens was ninth in 2018, Santino Ferrucci was seventh in 2019 and Patricio O'Ward was sixth last year. 

We have had at least one rookie finisher in the top ten of eight of the last 11 Indianapolis 500s now.

26. I still cannot believe Roger Penske let Hélio Castroneves go. I imagine as happy as Penske is for Castroneves, this result stings a little bit. Penske owns the track but the greatest moment for him as a team owner was lost. 

You can say Penske is a winner anyway because he gets to promote Castroneves going for a fifth Indianapolis 500 next year, but I don't see Penske as a silver lining type of guy. 

Penske is still a car owner, a ruthless one at that, and he wants a 19th Indianapolis 500 victory. He wants to be wining and dining his sponsors that evening after another victorious afternoon. He wanted to be right next to Castroneves kissing the bricks. 

I always thought Penske would giving Castroneves a shot at a fourth as long as Castroneves wanted it. The first year Castroneves is with another team he gets his magic moment and for the first time in a long time, possibly ever, Roger Penske looks like the biggest sucker. 

27. In the last three years ending with the number one, the Indianapolis 500 winner has not been a full-time driver in that series. 

Hélio Castroneves was full-time in CART in 2001, but he was not full-time in the Indy Racing League. Castroneves and Team Penske ran Phoenix as a warm-up and then ran Indianapolis and won the race as a rookie. 

In 2011, Dan Wheldon won as a one-off with Bryan Herta Autosport. At the time of his victory, Wheldon didn't have any other races planned that season. He did run Kentucky as a warm-up for the Las Vegas race, where he was racing for a $2.5 million bonus with $2.5 million also going to a fan if he had won. 

This was Castroneves' first start of the season, and he has more to come. We will not see him until Nashville in August and then he will run the second IMS road course race on the Saturday of the NASCAR weekend a week later. He will then run the final three races of the season at Portland, Laguna Seca and Long Beach. At least that is the plan. Perhaps winning the Indianapolis 500 will increase his schedule. 

28. I guess we don't care about how the starts look. That was a mess. We didn't see the field grid up in eleven rows of three until turn three on the final pace lap. That felt later than usual. Then at the green flag, no one was in place. Colton Herta was behind Scott Dixon. Rows four through nine was jumbled up. There was no spacing, which is IndyCar's biggest issue on ovals, and we have seen too many accidents at the start of races in recent memory.

This is easy to police. I don't want to blame Kyle Novak too much but if Colton Herta falls behind Scott Dixon before the start line, that should be a penalty. Until IndyCar starts penalizing guys, the starts are going to look like crap. No one wants to hear that nine guys have to serve a drive-through penalty or a stop-and-go penalty after lap one of the Indianapolis 500, but it is the only way to clean things up. 

29. Entering this year's Indianapolis 500, Alexander Rossi had the seventh best average finish among the 256 drivers with at least five Indianapolis 500 starts. After this year's race, Rossi is now tied for 38th with Frank Elliott, Vitor Meira and Jimmy Reece at 11.667. 

What will it take for Rossi to get back to seventh all-time? 

With Castroneves' victory, the Brazilian is now seventh at 8.3809. Rossi would need to win the next three Indianapolis 500s to get his average finish below 8.3809 and if Rossi won three consecutive Indianapolis 500s, his average finish would be 8.111.

We have yet to have a driver win three consecutive Indianapolis 500s. That is likely not going to happen for Rossi and he will likely make more than three Indianapolis 500 starts. 

Let's say Rossi runs the next ten years. That would give Rossi 16 Indianapolis 500 starts. The sum of Rossi's first six Indianapolis 500 stats is 70. To be at least below 8.3809 after his 16th Indianapolis 500 start, the sum of Rossi's finishes would need to be 134 or lower. That means Rossi's average finish over the next ten years must be 6.4 just for him to get back to seventh all-time. 

It just goes to show how two poor results can ruin an average. However, I wouldn't count Rossi out. 

30. The incredible thing is we didn't see any attrition yesterday. We had the Stefan Wilson spin, Graham Rahal losing his tire and Simona de Silvestro retiring after her spin entering the pit lane. That's it. No one had a turbo failure. No one broke a driveshaft. We didn't have a team brush the wall, bend its suspension and call it a day. Thirty cars took the checkered flag. 

If all 33 cars had completed all 200 laps, then 6,600 total laps would have been run. We had 6,308 laps total laps run in the 105th Indianapolis 500. We were only 292 laps away from dare I say a perfect race. What is more perfect than every car completing every lap?  

31. Doubling back to Stefan Wilson's accident. Has there been an accident that early in an Indianapolis 500 change a race that much? Who could have seen a lap 34 accident take out the Scott Dixon and Alexander Rossi because both cars locked up because they ran out of fuel? And it was only those two drivers. No one else stalled. No one else had to lose a lap while the driver waited for his or her cas to reset. It was only Dixon and Rossi, arguably two of the five best drivers in IndyCar. 

If Dixon and Rossi avoid stalling, both would have had to take a penalty for emergency service. It would have put them in the middle of the field, but they still would have been on the lead lap instead of spending most of the day just fighting to get back on the lead lap. 

In Dixon's case, he spent nearly 90 laps off the lead lap and Rossi never got back on the lead lap. This race plays out differently if Dixon and Rossi never stall. 

32. Wilson was just the start to the trend of the 105th Indianapolis 500 and that was cars spinning into the pit lane. It has happened before. It happened two years ago with Marcus Ericsson, but why did three happen this year and why did we almost have a fourth and a fifth? Scott McLaughlin had a nervy moment and Ryan Hunter-Reay basically looked like he had no brakes when he came to pit lane for his final stop. 

I bet IndyCar investigates it and will make an adjustment as it sees fit. I don't know if the teams are pushing it too much and could be overstepping a line when it comes in terms of safety. I don't know if IndyCar needs to look at pit lane speed. These cars are going from 215 mph to basically 60 mph in a blink. Should Indianapolis be a little quicker? Twenty miles per hour doesn't sound like much but there is a big difference between 60 mph and 80 mph. Next time you are on a highway and going 60 mph, smash the gas pedal to the floor and take the car to 80 mph. There is a difference.

No one spun entering pit lane in Texas earlier this month. Takuma Sato ran over Ryan Hunter-Reay entering pit lane at Pocono in 2013. Outside of that incidents, we don't see many pit lane entrance issues on ovals. It wasn't that long ago IndyCar was at Fontana and I can't recall one major incident in the four-year stretch from 2012 to 2015.

I do believe there can be a flexibility to pit lane speed. We make it black-and-white, but if someone is going 65 mph, they aren't necessarily causing danger. Speed is cut and dry, but we need to see how a driver is handling that speed. You could be going ten miles over the speed limit and not get pulled off because you are not being reckless in traffic. You can be going five miles per hour over and swerving back and forth and passing in the right lane and a cop will pull you over. 

There needs to be a hard line on a speed because we can't have drivers cruising at 150 mph on pit lane and then arguing they were in complete control of their car and no one was put at risk. I think IndyCar can look at its pit lane procedure and be a little more forgiving. We can be open about it. It is a discussion worth having. 

33. Do people care Hélio Castroneves won his fourth Indianapolis 500? 

We care. IndyCar fans care. Motorsports fans care. But do people care? 

There was a time a four-time Indianapolis 500 winner would likely be the talk of the town for a week. That driver would be on a lot of talk shows. Everyone would know his name. I don't sense that will happen with Castroneves and it has nothing to do with the man himself.

I feel like had Castroneves won his fourth in 2012 or 2014 it would have been a much bigger moment than it was this year. Time will tell. We aren't even 24 hours removed from Castroneves taking the checkered flag, but for as notable of a sporting event the Indianapolis 500 is it hasn't been a cultural event that everyone stops to view. It doesn't dominate the airwaves for the entire week leading up to it. 

We care about it. We make it our lives, but 300 million people in the United States alone have woken up this morning and at no point were they aware the race was even going on yesterday. 

It is special, but I have been around long enough to know this will not be some transcendent moment for IndyCar and the Indianapolis 500. It is special, but IndyCar will remain the same. The crowd will be about the same size. That solid audience of close to a million people will watch Belle Isle in two weeks. Teams are going to struggle for sponsors. Oval races will struggle to draw 20,000 people. 

That is IndyCar in the year 2021. Not much different from IndyCar in 2011, but we are happier than we were ten years ago. People are genuinely happy within the IndyCar bubble. It has been a positive ten years, especially the last five or six years. Even if Castroneves is not the national star of the week and IndyCar remains obscure, we should at least be happy that IndyCar is in a healthier place.

Winners From the Weekend
You know about Hélio Castroneves, but did you know...

Fabio Quartararo won MotoGP's Italian Grand Prix, his third victory of the season. Remy Gardner won the Moto2 race and took the championship lead. Dennis Foggia won the Moto3 race. 

Kyle Larson won the Coca-Cola 600, his second victory of the season. It is Hendrick Motorsports' 269th NASCAR Cup Series victory, the most all-time for a team in the Cup Series. Ty Gibbs won the Grand National Series race from Charlotte, his second victory of the season. John Hunter Nemechek won the Truck race, his third victory of the season.

The #22 GPX Racing Porsche of Matt Campbell, Earl Bamber and Mathieu Jaminet won the Circuit Paul Ricard 1000 km.

Scott Redding won on Saturday, but Jonathan Rea won both World Superbike races on Sunday in Estoril. Steven Odendaal and Dominique Aegerter split the World Supersport races and Odendaal has three victories from four races this season.

Coming Up This Weekend
Formula One will be in Azerbaijan. 
MotoGP crosses the Mediterranean to run in Barcelona. 
NASCAR returns to Sonoma. 
The European Le Mans Series keeps Circuit Paul Ricard busy. 
There will be the 24 Hours Nürburgring with a World Touring Car Cup round tagging along for its season opener.
GT World Challenge America visits Virginia International Raceway.


Sunday, May 30, 2021

105th Indianapolis 500: First Impressions

1. After 12 years of fighting, Hélio Castroneves has joined the four-time winner club. In Castroneves' first race with Meyer Shank Racing, Castroneves has won the 105th Indianapolis 500. 

I am astonished. Castroneves has been a threat every year at Indianapolis. In 21 starts, it is hard to pick out a bad year for Castroneves. There have been a few, but more times than not he is fighting in the top five. Entering this race, among the 256 drivers with at least five starts, Castroneves had the eighth best average finish at 8.75. On top of his three victories, Castroneves has three runner-up finishes and two of those have been in recent memory. 

He lost a late battle with Ryan Hunter-Reay in 2014 and could not beat Takuma Sato down the stretch in 2017. The fourth was there for the taking. Castroneves didn't do anything wrong. Better drivers beat him on that day, but in both cases Castroneves drove stellar. However, after watching so many close calls, it felt like the fourth was going to fall out of his grasp. 

I always thought Team Penske would have a seat for Castroneves. After seeing Al Unser win his fourth as a substitute in a year-old car and Rick Mears win all four for Penske, I though Penske would never let this moment get away from him. The fourth is too special and it felt like Castroneves would have a ride as long as he wanted one. 

That wasn't the case and after 11 years of waiting, Penske moved on. I always wondered if Penske cut bait too soon. Life knows how to write a story. Redemption is a popular narrative. 

I cannot blame Penske for moving on, but Castroneves showed up his former team. 

It was a Castroneves-esque race. He hung in the top ten and stayed in the fight. Every year Castroneves is in the fight. Some years, he just ends up sixth and is a non-factor, but as other drivers dropped and struggled with fuel mileage, Castroneves had good mileage. Mileage was the name of the game and as we got closer to the finish, Castroneves climbed up the order. He was in the background.

He was fifth, then fourth and then he was in the top three. In the final 80 miles, it became clear Castroneves was going to be in the fight and the storyline at the start of the month was going to play out at the finish of the race. It was going to youth versus age. Castroneves was third with Ryan Hunter-Reay was fourth while Álex Palou and Patricio O'Ward were the top two. 

Hunter-Reay blew the entrance to pit lane and it became a three-car battle. It was going to come down to timing and Palou held the top spot. Then Castroneves jumped up there before Palou took it back. O'Ward was settled into third, but still in the battle. It became clear this race was going to feature a late pass. For most of that time, it felt like Palou was going to win this race. He held the point most of the way, but then Castroneves would make a pass. Palou would get it back, but Castroneves was keeping him honest. 

In the final laps, Castroneves made his run, and after losing it in 2014 and losing it in 2017, it felt like the third time was going to be the charm. It felt like this was meant to be for Castroneves. He held the lead with two laps to go, he had the top spot, but he was closing on traffic, and in a way, traffic helped Castroneves. It bogged him down, but it also bogged down Palou. There was too much dirty air. Castroneves wasn't going to lap those cars, but Palou wasn't going to take the lead either. 

If Castroneves had not made that move entering turn one with two laps to go, the roles are reversed, and Palou would have held on and won the race. 

It has been 30 years since Rick Mears won his fourth. It has been 20 years since Castroneves won his first. A fifth is on the table. I have respected Castroneves, but there has always been something that holds him back. This was his 31st IndyCar victory and he is tied for tenth all-time, but I haven't seen him as close to equal as Dario Franchitti, who has 31 victories on top of four championships and three Indianapolis 500 victories. I even held Will Power in higher regard than Castroneves. 

We cannot talk about Castroneves without talking about how circumstances played into his career. The ghost of Greg Moore casts a shadow on Castroneves' career. If Moore does not lose his life, is Castroneves ever in this situation? It is hard to imagine Castroneves would be celebrating his fourth Indianapolis 500 if Moore had lived to see November 1, 1999. But none of this has been a gift. Castroneves had to earn all of this. He had to fight for all these Indianapolis 500 victories and IndyCar victories. Though a championship eluded Castroneves, he still had many great seasons, unfortunately falling a few spots short in a handful of seasons. 

I am not sure exactly where to rank Castroneves, but I know he is great. I know this has been a special two-decade spell and it has been tremendous to watch. I know this is a beautiful day for IndyCar. Castroneves made 135,000 people sound like 13 million. He won in his first race of the season, ten years and a day after Dan Wheldon won in his first race of the season. Castroneves picked up Meyer Shank Racing its first IndyCar victory. Wheldon's victory was Bryan Herta Autosport's first victory. 

We talk about how anyone can win in IndyCar and so we have seen it. A one-off team for one of IndyCar's smallest but emerging programs has won the Indianapolis 500. This could launch Meyer Shank Racing into being one of IndyCar's elite programs. Castroneves will also have more history to face. He will get a crack at a fifth victory, a chance to start his own club and leave the likes of A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears behind.

2. Second place is a disheartening result, but for sophomore Álex Palou, there must be some satisfaction. Palou was at the front all race. He led 35 laps. It looked like he was set for another breakout victory just over a month after his first breakout victory. 

Palou lost today, 0.4928 seconds short of etching his name into eternity, but he was breathtaking. Chip Ganassi Racing has found its future. It has been looking for a suitable number two driver ever since Dario Franchitti was forced into retirement after the 2013 season. They have its driver. Palou is 24 years old. Two decades could be ahead of him and I expect him to win more races and possibly a championship and Indianapolis 500 down the road.

3. Strategy decided this race more than it appears and Simon Pagenaud's third-place finish is just the first example of it. Pagenaud really wasn't in the fight until the end. He didn't crack the top ten until lap 125 after starting 26th. He spent most of the race in the middle of the field, but in those final two stints, Pagenaud turned a good day into a great day, and he was in the picture at the finish.

I don't think he was a threat at the end. I felt like Castroneves and Palou had it set. Pagenaud took third from Patricio O'Ward on the final lap. Pagenaud needed this kind of day. Team Penske needed this kind of day. It is not a victory, but it saves the team from what could have been an embarrassing month of May.

4. Patricio O'Ward fell to fourth late, but O'Ward was in the fight with Castroneves and Palou. It felt like he had a shot, but he just didn't quite have it. We have seen this in recent years at Indianapolis. In 2014, it was Hunter-Reay and Castroneves. Marco Andretti ran third the entire time but could not break in. When Takuma Sato won in 2017, it was Sato versus Castroneves, and Ed Jones was stuck in third. Jones had a hole in the nose of his car, but he couldn't even draft up on the top two. 

O'Ward was stuck in the sucker hole that is third. Close, but not close enough and it dropped him to fourth.

5. Ed Carpenter stalled on his first pit stop and it looked like race over. It took him out of the top five, but it was early and going off strategy got Carpenter to the front. Driving hard got results today, and Carpenter found himself in the top ten after his final stop. As some other cars stopped when that late caution did not come, Carpenter found himself in the top five, the best finishing Ed Carpenter Racing entry. 

6. Speaking of strategy, Santino Ferrucci stopped on lap 180 and he climbed up to sixth. Ferrucci was one of many drivers who were off strategy and did not stop immediately when pit windows open. Those drivers leaped ahead of the early front-runners and Ferrucci went from middle of the pack to sixth. The team needs a lot of credit and Ferrucci kept his nose clean for a third consecutive year. Ferrucci also scored fastest lap. 

7. Sage Karam picked up a seventh-place finish! Karam was one of those drivers who stopped late in pit windows and his final stop came on lap 178. He cycled ahead of some other front runners, such as Rinus VeeKay, Josef Newgarden and Colton Herta. More importantly, Karam got the car home in one piece. Too many years we have seen Karam drive over the limit and hit the wall. That didn't happen today. He paced himself and got a good finish.

8. Rinus VeeKay led early, but it was clear the Chevrolet fuel mileage was not great. He was stopped five laps earlier than everyone else. He was going to lose ground. With those later pit stops, we saw him lose a lot of ground and fall out of the battle at the front. VeeKay still finished eighth, but his early aggression and Chevrolet's deficit took him out of it.

9. Juan Pablo Montoya was ninth! I don't think Montoya was shown once all day, but he was another one of those mid-pack cars that could go a little longer and it got him spots. Montoya drove a smart race, even if none of us saw it. He has done this plenty of times that he knows how to turn a 24th starting position into a ninth-place finish.

10. We need to mention the first caution, because Stefan Wilson spun entering the pit lane and he spun right at the end of the first stint. Many cars were closed on fuel and some cars had to make an emergency stop for a splash of fuel. One of those was Tony Kanaan. Kanaan was in the top ten and that emergency stop meant he had to stop again for the rest of his service and then he had to go to the rear of the field for stopping in a closed pit lane. That put Kanaan behind the eight-ball and he had to fight from behind the entire race. He got up to tenth, but that is a minor consolation. This could have been a better day. This should have been a better day.

11. Marcus Ericsson was in the same boat as Kanaan. He needed an emergency splash of fuel and then had to restart at the rear with Kanaan. These two basically were running with each other the entire race, and Ericsson kept up with Kanaan. I need to say Ericsson did a good job even if 11th isn't that exciting.

12. Josef Newgarden went off strategy in the middle of the race. He short-stinted his third stint and stopped on lap 101. It worked and it got Newgarden in the top five, but those early stops went against Newgarden later in the race. Those final stops knocked him down the running order and he got caught in traffic. This looked like at least a top ten finish. I thought Newgarden was stopping too early, and he was going to need to run conservative late and that would cost him any shot of top five finish. He was never in that position and he ended up 12th.

13. The biggest winner of Stefan Wilson's spin was Conor Daly. He had just made his first pit stop and emerged from pit lane as one of the top three cars to have stopped. Once the rest of the field got their service, Daly cycled to the front, and he led 40 laps. Like VeeKay, Daly struggled with fuel mileage, and he fell out of fight at the front. He had one slow stop and he lost even more ground. Then Daly hit the abandoned tire from Graham Rahal's car, after Rahal did not get his left rear tire secure on a pit stop, and it damaged his front wing. 

Daly didn't immediately pit for a repair, but he didn't have the same car and he was stuck in the middle of the field. He got 13th. I am not sure it could have been better. The Wilson caution inflated Daly's performance today. This feels like a fair finish.

14. Magic was not on Takuma Sato's side. He was going to try and go over 40 laps on his final stint, but he had to bail out with six laps to go. He still finished 14th, but the aggressive strategy probably got him an extra spot or two. 

15. J.R. Hildebrand rolled the dice like Sato. Hildebrand went untill lap 186 before making his final pit stop and he was 15th. It is a good day. For a one-off A.J. Foyt Racing entry, you should be happy with best in the team and a top 15 finish with 200 laps completed.

16. Colton Herta and Andretti Autosport got the strategy wrong today. Herta was not getting great mileage, but he was doing well. His final pit stop came right as the final pit window open, and that almost took him out of this race. He was running in the top ten and then he finished 16th. He was frustrated for much of this race. I sensed he wanted to drive hard and race VeeKay and Daly at the front, but the team felt differently. Herta never got back into the fight. That strategy kept costing him ground. 

I don't know if something happened to knock him back to 16th, but I sense because so many drivers went longer before their final stop, they were able to jump ahead of Herta and Herta got stuck in traffic when he emerged from pit lane after his final stop. This was a lost day for him and for Andretti Autosport as a whole. Herta was Andretti Autosport's top finisher in 16th! That is awful!

17. Scott Dixon's Indianapolis 500 fell apart before the first pit stop. The Wilson accident meant majority of the field was on fumes. Dixon had to make an emergency stop, but he ran out of fuel and the car had to be recycled before it could restart. Once it was restarted, Dixon was a lap down. He was a lap down until Graham Rahal's accident got him the wave around, but he was mired in the back third of the field. 

Dixon took a risk and committed to stretching his final tank 38 laps. He did it, but it didn't turn into a top ten finish let alone a top five result. Dixon was 17th. It was likely five to ten spots better than if he had to make an addition stop, but this feels like one that got away from him. After leading 111 laps last year, Dixon was set to run third or fourth and save fuel early to be there in the end. Unfortunately, this one incident took him out of it early. He could not overcome collision of circumstances. It shouldn't have been a death blow and in 19 out of 20 Indianapolis 500s it wouldn't have been. Dixon would have gotten back on the lead lap earlier and been able to claw back into the fight. The 105th Indianapolis 500 was not playing kind.

18. Jack Harvey was 18th and outside of getting up to 15th early from 20th on the grid, he didn't really stand out. Harvey never really challenged for the top ten. 

19. I am going to cover a good portion of Andretti Autosport here. Marco Andretti was 19th. Andretti was stuck around this part of the field all race. He was not a factor. James Hinchcliffe was 21st and basically had an identical race. Take Wilson out of the conversation for a second, but two of the five Andretti cars were not going to factor into this race. It wasn't that long ago when Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Fernando Alonso and Takuma Sato combined to lead 95 in the Indianapolis 500 and Sato won the race. 

Andretti has taken a big step back in the universal aero kit era. This team got this entire race wrong and while it had three cars in the top ten last year, Andretti Autosport had one contender in 2020 in Rossi. When Rossi had his penalty, the team had no one to step up and be a contender. I think this team needs to take a hard look at itself for the rest of this season and into 2022.

20. Scott McLaughlin sped on pit lane before one of his late pit stops and it took him out of a possible top ten finish. Other than that, McLaughlin did a good job today. He is a rookie! This is McLaughlin's third oval race. This is the first mistake he has made all season and I wouldn't beat him up too much about it. Twentieth isn't great, but it will likely get him Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year because Pietro Fittipaldi was 25th and didn't really do anything notable. 

21. Ryan Hunter-Reay blew a top five finish. Hunter-Reay was fourth and ran a solid race before he sped entering the pit lane for his final stop. Hunter-Reay was one of a handful of incidents where a driver just kind of blew pit lane. Wilson spun, Will Power spun and avoided hitting anything, Simona de Silvestro had a spin and Hunter-Reay nearly drove over Patricio O'Ward and nearly clipped a tire in de Silvestro's pit box. 

It was odd to see because we haven't seen that many pit lane incidents over the years. They happen. There was the one year when Dale Coyne Racing had three of its cars get together on pit lane. Marcus Ericsson spun entering pit lane two years ago, but we saw three spins and a notable lock up today. 

As for Hunter-Reay, I thought he was going to be there in the fight. I am not sure he was going to win, but I thought he was going to finish in the top five and he let it get away from him.

22. Dalton Kellett was the first car a lap down in 23rd. He didn't do much, but he still completed 199 laps. That is a big step from last year. Kellett deserves some praise, because I bet a lot of people thought he was going to be bumped. Not only wasn't he bumped, he qualified in the top 30 and avoided the Last Row Shootout. Don't get me wrong, Kellett is not a diamond in the rough. I think this is as good as he can be, but he was respectable all week.

23. Max Chilton was 24th. Yeah, that sounds about right. I wonder what Carlin could do with a full-time driver that isn't Chilton. Chilton is fine. He is not spectacular but there are worse drivers out there. However, we have seen Carlin show oval speed with Conor Daly. Even Chilton has had some good qualifying runs on road courses. What could a different driver do full-time with this equipment? Will we ever find out?

24. As covered above, Pietro Fittipaldi was 25th. That's pretty much all you can say. I don't think Fittipaldi was shown once. He didn't do anything wrong, but this was not his greatest race either.

25. Sébastien Bourdais tried the Scott Dixon strategy of stretching it almost 40 laps on that final tank and Bourdais had to stop with three laps to go, relegating him to 26th. This was a rough May for A.J. Foyt Racing. I bet Bourdais is happy to see Belle Isle, Road America and Mid-Ohio as the next four races. It could even be five races as the Toronto race could be made up with a second race at Mid-Ohio.

26. Felix Rosenqvist had the same strategy as Takuma Sato. Rosenqvist led 14 laps, but he had to stop with six laps to go only to speed on pit lane and serve a penalty. This knocked him down to 27th, one lap down. I don't recall Ed Jones running this same strategy, but he had to make a pit stop on lap 198 and he finished 28th. I don't remember Jones having a problem. This wasn't a stellar day for him either, but it was better the 28th.

27. Alexander Rossi had the greatest 29th-place finish in Indianapolis 500 history. He had the same issue as Scott Dixon. He had to make an emergency fuel stop and he stalled, had to recycle the car, and lost a lap. Unlike Dixon, Rossi never cycled back to the lead lap. I am not sure we can judge Rossi on this performance. He didn't do anything wrong. The situation could not have worked against him anymore than it did. He never got that break. We have seen plenty of drivers have an early miscue and recover to finish in the top ten. Hell, Takuma Sato was a lap down in 2019 and still came back to finish third behind Pagenaud and Rossi. This year's race did not do anyone favors. And it sucks, because Dixon was better than 17th and Rossi was better than being trapped off the lead lap for basically the final 400 miles of this race. 

28. Will Power and Simona de Silvestro both spun entering pit lane, as mentioned above. Power was going to be close to a top ten finish, but I am not sure he was going to get there. De Silvestro drove well, but likely was going to be either one of the final cars on the lead lap and one of the first cars a lap down. That spin took her out of the race. Power gets 30th and de Silvestro gets 31st. 

29. Graham Rahal's botched pit stop, and subsequent spin was crushing to watch. Rahal had a great day brewing. He was set up for the sprint to the line and he was likely going to make up three or four spots after that pit stop. But the loose left rear tire came off on the access road in turn two and Rahal was along for the ride. 

There was nothing Rahal could have done, and that accident could have been a million times worse. Thankfully, no one collided with Rahal. Thankfully, that loose tire didn't fly into the crowd. Thankfully, we have the aeroscreen. 

This was out of Rahal's hands. You hope these accidents never happen. Sometimes they do and they are always difficult to swallow. If there is any positive, at least Rahal avoided his record-tying third 33rd-place finish.

30. Stefan Wilson lost the car entering the pit lane on the first stop and I had to say it but it feels like this is it for his Indianapolis 500 career. It feels like every other year we see a one-off driver make a mistake that is avoidable. Jay Howard had a dismal Indianapolis 500 in 2017 and it was topped off when he brushed the wall in turn one and then Scott Dixon ran over his damaged car. One-offs do not usually have great races and there is a reason we do not see many guys return after three-year absences. 

Wilson is a good guy and a good driver, but he is not a regular competitor. Did that cause this accident? Not necessarily, but this accident makes me wonder if he has lost some appeal. Will teams think twice when looking over possible one-off entries. There are plenty of drivers on the sidelines. The teams have choices. 

31. Thirty cars competed this race. All 30 cars completed at least 197 laps. Thirty cars completed at least 492.5 miles! I did not see that race coming. We normally see a few cars have problems. We had the fastest Indianapolis 500 ever at 190.69 mph! Normally fast races do not see a lot of cautions, and we only had two, the fewest since the adoption of cautions at Indianapolis. But still, only three cars retired from this race and no car that took the checkered flag finished more than three laps down. 

In past years, Rossi would have his problem and still finish in the top 15. There was mercy in this race. This was a strong field. I didn't think it was this strong. 

32. It was a good race. After seeing Carb Day and hearing everyone talk about how the cooler temperatures would lend to cars having more grip and improve the conditions for passing, this race was quite tame in comparison. It was still lively, but the bar had been set for something a little active, especially in the first half of the race. I don't think drivers were taking it easy and not passing, choosing to stay in the draft and save fuel. I think it was still difficult to make a move. We saw plenty of jockeying in the final laps though, so maybe drivers were pacing themselves. 

I have no complaints. It was a tremendous Indianapolis 500. It is hard to imagine anyone can be upset after this one. 

33. 364 days until the 106th Indianapolis 500.


Morning Warm-Up: 105th Indianapolis 500

History is 500 miles away

We find ourselves back at Memorial Day weekend and Indianapolis Motor Speedway becomes the focal point of the motorsports universe. The Indianapolis 500 returns to its customary weekend and after running behind closed doors in 2020, this year's race will see around 135,000 spectators at the facility. On track, the number of drivers remain the same, 33 are here representing a record 15 different countries. For nine men, they look to add to their legacies. Six look to become two-time winners, two look for a third triumph and one has another chance at a monumental fourth victory. While this year's race features the second most past winners, there are still 24 drivers who seek their own glory. Some are youngsters, ready to usurp the title of most notable IndyCar driver for the next decade. Others are seasoned veterans, looking to cement their careers with a sip of milk.

Starting Grid
Row 1:
Scott Dixon
This will be Dixon’s 19th 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-one times has the pole-sitter won the race, including Simon Pagenaud’s victory two years ago.

Dixon could become the third driver to win multiple Indianapolis 500s from pole position, joining Rick Mears who won three times from pole position, and Johnny Rutherford who won from pole position twice. Dixon has not won a race from pole position since Watkins Glen in 2016. He has not won a race from pole position on an oval since Motegi in 2009. Twelve of his 51 victories have come from pole position.

Dixon could become the first defending IndyCar champion to win the Indianapolis 500 since Dario Franchitti in 2012.

Dixon is third all-time in Indianapolis 500 laps led with 563. If he leads 47 laps, he will become the third driver to reach the 600 laps led milestone. If he leads 50 laps, he will pass Ralph DePalma for second most all-time. If he leads 82 laps, Dixon will surpass Al Unser for the most laps led in the history of the Indianapolis 500.
If Dixon leads a lap, he will tie Tony Kanaan for most Indianapolis 500s led with 14.
Last year, Dixon led the most laps for a record fifth time in the Indianapolis 500.

This is the 13th Indianapolis 500 since Dixon’s lone victory in 2008. The only driver with more races between Indianapolis 500 victories is Juan Pablo Montoya, though Montoya did not start every race between 2000 and 2015.
Dixon could become the 15th driver to win the Indianapolis 500 the year after finishing second in the race. The last driver to do it was Dan Wheldon in 2011.

Colton Herta
This will be Herta’s third Indianapolis 500 start.
Best Finish: 8th (2020)
Car #26 has won the Indianapolis 500 twice, Dan Wheldon in 2005 and Takuma Sato 2017.
Eleven times has the winner started second, most recently Juan Pablo Montoya in 2000.

This is Herta’s first front row start for the Indianapolis 500.
This is the first time Herta is starting on the front row for an oval race in his IndyCar career.

Herta could become the first driver born in the 21st century to start the Indianapolis 500.
Herta could be the first driver to win the Freedom 100 and Indianapolis 500.
A top five finish for Colton would make him and Bryan the tenth father/son duo to each have a top five finish in the Indianapolis 500.
Herta led his first Indianapolis 500 lap last year. His father Bryan led three laps in five Indianapolis 500 starts, all coming in 2004.

Herta could become the first driver born in the 21st century to win the Indianapolis 500. He would also be the youngest winner at 21 years and two months old.
Herta could become the eighth Californian to win the Indianapolis 500. California is currently tied with Indiana for start with the most Indianapolis 500 winners born there on seven drivers.

Rinus VeeKay
This will be VeeKay’s second Indianapolis 500 start.
Best Finish: 20th (2020)
Car #21 has never won the Indianapolis 500.
Thirteen times has the Indianapolis 500 winner started third, most recently Takuma Sato last year.

VeeKay is the youngest front row starter in Indianapolis 500 history.
VeeKay could become the third driver in the last four seasons to win the race before the Indianapolis 500 and the Indianapolis 500.
VeeKay is looking to snap a trend for first-time winners. Nine of the last ten first-time winners finished outside the top ten in their next start. The lone top ten finish was Alexander Rossi, who was tenth at Belle Isle after winning the 2016 Indianapolis 500.

The last drive to finish in the top five in the race after a first career victory was Takuma Sato, who was second in São Paulo after winning at Long Beach in 2013.
VeeKay could become the first driver born in the 21st century to win the Indianapolis 500. He would also be the youngest winner at 20 years, eight months and 19 days old.

Row 2:
Ed Carpenter
This will be Carpenter’s 18th Indianapolis 500 start.
Best Finish: 2nd (2018).
Car #20 has won the Indianapolis 500 three times but not since Emerson Fittipaldi in 1989.
Seven times has the winner started fourth, most recently Takuma Sato in 2017.

Carpenter could break Sam Hanks’ record for most starts before first Indianapolis 500 victory. Hanks’ won the 1957 Indianapolis 500, his 13th start in the race.
Carpenter needs to lead 54 laps to reach the 200 laps led milestone in the Indianapolis 500.

Carpenter could be the first driver to win the Freedom 100 and Indianapolis 500.
Carpenter could become the third Illinois-born driver to win the Indianapolis 500 and first since Floyd Davis in 1941.

Tony Kanaan
This will be Kanaan’s 20th Indianapolis 500 start.
2013 Indianapolis 500 winner.
Car #48 has won the Indianapolis 500 once, Bobby Unser 1975.
Seven times has the winner started fifth, most recently Buddy Lazier in 1996.

Kanaan will become the tenth driver with at least 20 Indianapolis 500 starts.
Kanaan has led a lap in 14 Indianapolis 500s, more than any other driver.
Kanaan has led 346 laps, the second most amongst active drivers. If Kanaan leads 54 laps, he will become the 14th driver to lead 400 laps in the Indianapolis 500.

This is the first time Kanaan is starting in the top five since he started fourth at Pocono in 2017.
The only time Kanaan has won from fifth on the grid was at Nashville in 2004.

Chip Ganassi Racing has never had three different winners in an IndyCar season.
Kanaan could become the fourth oldest Indianapolis 500 winner at 46 years, four months and 30 days old.

Álex Palou
This will be Palou’s second Indianapolis 500 start.
Best Finish: 28th (2020)
Car #10 has won the Indianapolis 500 once, Dario Franchitti 2010.
Five times has the winner started sixth, most recently Dan Wheldon in 2011.

This is Palou's best qualifying result on an oval. He started on the front row for both Texas races earlier this month, but both those grids were set via entrants' points.
This is his 11th time starting in the top ten and this will be his 20th career start.

Palou could become the first Spaniard to win the Indianapolis 500.
It has been 15 years, nine months and two days since Oriol Servià won at Montreal, the only IndyCar victory for a Spaniard.
Palou could become the sixth youngest Indianapolis 500 winner at 24 months, one month and 29 days old.

Row 3:
Ryan Hunter-Reay
This will be Hunter-Reay’s 14th Indianapolis 500 start.
2014 Indianapolis 500 winner.
His 2014 victory is the only Indianapolis 500 victory for car #28.
Five times has the winner started seventh, most recently A.J. Foyt in 1961.

Hunter-Reay has the 100th best average finish among the 256 drivers with at least five Indianapolis 500 starts at 15.3076. He is just behind Billy Boat and just ahead of Tony Stewart.
Hunter-Reay needs to lead 37 laps to reach the 200 laps led milestone in the Indianapolis 500.
Hunter-Reay does not have a top five finish through the first five races of the season. It is his worst start since 2011 when it took him ten races to get his first top five result. 

The only time Hunter-Reay has won from seventh on the grid was at Iowa in 2012.
Hunter-Reay could become the first American driver to win a second Indianapolis 500 since Al Unser, Jr. in 1994.

Hélio Castroneves
This will be Castroneves’ 21st Indianapolis 500 start.
Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner (2001, 2002, 2009).
Car #06 has never won the Indianapolis 500.
Twice has the winner started eighth, most recently Kenny Bräck in 1999.

The only time Castroneves has won from eighth in his career was at Kentucky in 2010. 

Car #06 has started four Indianapolis 500s, from 2008 to 2011 with Newman-Haas Racing. All four starts came with a different driver: Graham Rahal, Robert Doornbos, Hideki Mutoh and James Hinchliffe. It was the first Indianapolis 500 start or final Indianapolis 500 start for all four drivers.

Castroneves has the eighth best average finish among the 256 drivers with at least five Indianapolis 500 starts at 8.75.

Castroneves could also set the record for most Indianapolis 500s between first and last victories as it has been 20 years since he won in 2001. Al Unser currently holds the record at 17 races between his first victory in 1970 and his fourth victory in 1987.
The only drivers to win the Indianapolis 500 in a 20th Indianapolis 500 start or later was A.J. Foyt, whose fourth victory was in his 20th start and Al Unser, whose fourth victory was in his 22nd start.

This is Castroneves’ first Indianapolis 500 start with a team other than Team Penske.

Castroneves could set the record for most Indianapolis 500s finished if he takes the checkered flag. He is currently tied with A.J. Foyt and Al Unser for most all-time on 18 finishes.
Castroneves has led 305 laps in the Indianapolis, which has him ranked 18th all-time. If he leads 95 laps, he will become the 14th driver to lead 400 laps in the Indianapolis 500.
Castroneves could become the fourth oldest Indianapolis 500 winner at 46 years and 20 days old.

Marcus Ericsson
This will be Ericsson’s third Indianapolis 500 start.
Best Finish: 23rd (2019)
Car #8 has won the Indianapolis 500 three times but not since Bob Sweikert in 1956.
Only once has the winner started ninth and that was Emerson Fittipaldi in 1993.
Ericsson could become the second Swede to win the Indianapolis 500.

This will be the eighth time Ericsson has started a race in the top ten of an IndyCar race. In his previous seven top ten starts, he has not finished better than his starting position and only once has he finished equal to his starting position. He started and finished ninth at the second Iowa race last year.

This will be Ericsson’s 36th IndyCar start. Two drivers have picked up a first career victory in a 36th career start, Emil Andres at Milwaukee on June 6, 1948, and Michael Andretti at Long Beach on April 12, 1986.
Chip Ganassi Racing has never had three different drivers win a race in an IndyCar season.

Row 4:
Alexander Rossi
This will be Rossi’s sixth Indianapolis 500 start.
2016 Indianapolis 500 Winner.
Car #27 has won the Indianapolis 500 three times, most recently with Dario Franchitti in 2007.
Twice has the winner started tenth, most recently Gil de Ferran in 2003.

Rossi has the seventh best average finish among the 256 drivers with at least five Indianapolis 500 starts at 8.2. It is the best average finish among the drivers with at least five starts in this year’s race.

Rossi has not won in his last 26 IndyCar starts and he has not led a lap this season.
Rossi needs to lead 23 laps to reach the 100 laps led milestone in the Indianapolis 500. Sixty-four drivers have led 100 laps in the Indianapolis 500.
Rossi has led a lap in all five of his Indianapolis 500 stats, but the most laps he has led in this race is 23, which he did in 2017.

Rossi could become the first American driver to win a second Indianapolis 500 since Al Unser, Jr. in 1994. 

Ed Jones
This will be Jones’ fourth Indianapolis 500 start.
Best Finish: 3rd (2017)
Car #18 has never won the Indianapolis 500.
Three times has the winner started 11th, most recently Alexander Rossi in 2016.

Jones started 11th for his Indianapolis 500 debut in 2017 with Dale Coyne Racing and he finished third. It is Dale Coyne Racing’s best finish in the Indianapolis 500.
 
Jones has led only one lap in his IndyCar career. It was lap 129 at Texas in 2018.

This will be Jones’ 54th IndyCar start. Only 25 drivers have taken more than 54 starts to get a first career victory, including Josef Newgarden, whose first victory was his 55th start, and Jimmy Vasser, whose first victory was his 56th start.

Patricio O’Ward
This will be O’Ward second Indianapolis 500 start.
Best Finish: 7th (2020)
Car #5 has won the Indianapolis 500 six times but not since Arie Luyendyk in 1997.
Twice has the winner started 12th, most recently Tony Kanaan in 2013.

O’Ward was Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year last year.
The last reigning Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year to win the following Indianapolis 500 was Hélio Castroneves in 2002, who won the race in 2001. The previous time it happened was in 1995, when Jacques Villeneuve won the race after finishing runner-up as a rookie in 1994. The only other reigning Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year to win the race the following year was Rick Mears, who shared the 1978 rookie of the year honor with Larry Rice, and won the 1979.

O’Ward could become the first Mexican driver to win the Indianapolis 500.
O’Ward could become the youngest Indianapolis 500 winner at 22 years and 24 days old. He would break the record by 56 days.

Row 5:
Pietro Fittipaldi
This will be Fittipaldi’s first Indianapolis 500 start.
Car #51 won the 1998 Indianapolis 500 with Eddie Cheever.
Four times has the winner started 13th, most recently Hélio Castroneves in 2002.

Fittipaldi could become the first Florida-born driver to not only win the Indianapolis 500 but to also win an IndyCar race!
Fittipaldi could become the fourth Brazilian to win Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year. His cousin Christian Fittipaldi won it with a runner-up finish in 1995, Christian’s only Indianapolis 500 start. Hélio Castroneves won it with his victory in 2001. Rubens Barrichello won it with an 11th-place finish in 2012.

A victory for Fittipaldi would make him and his grandfather Emerson the first grandfather-grandson duo to win the Indianapolis 500.
Fiittipaldi could become the ninth youngest Indianapolis 500 winner at 24 years, 11 months and five days old.

Felix Rosenqvist
This will be Rosenqvist’s third Indianapolis 500 start.
Best Finish: 12th (2020)
Car #7 has won the Indianapolis 500 twice but not since Bill Holland in 1949.
Only once has the winner started 14th and that was Bob Sweikert in 1955.
This is the second consecutive year Rosenqvist has started 14th in the Indianapolis 500.

Rosenqvist has led a lap in each of his first two Indianapolis 500 starts, six laps in 2019 and eight laps in 2020.
Rosenqvist could become the second Swede to win the Indianapolis 500.
The last IndyCar race won from 14th on the grid was the 2018 season opener at St. Petersburg with Sébastien Bourdais.

Takuma Sato
This will be Sato’s 12th Indianapolis 500 start.
Two-time and defending Indianapolis 500 winner.
Sato’s victory last year was the second time car #30 won the Indianapolis 500.
Four times has the winner started 15th, most recently Juan Pablo Montoya in 2015.

Sato could become the sixth driver to win the Indianapolis 500 in consecutive years joining Wilbur Shaw (1939-40), Mauri Rose (1947-48), Bill Vukovich (1953-54), Al Unser (1970-71) and Hélio Castroneves (2001-02).
Of the five drivers to win consecutive Indianapolis 500s, only one did with the same number in each race. That was Bill Vukovich with car #14 in 1953 and 1954.

Sato needs to lead 22 laps to reach the 100 laps led milestone in the Indianapolis 500. Sato is the only multi-time Indianapolis 500 winner to have led fewer than 100 laps. Sixty-four drivers have led 100 laps in the Indianapolis 500.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing could become the first time not named Team Penske to win consecutive Indianapolis 500s since Vel’s Parnelli Jones Racing in 1970-71.
Team Penske has won the Indianapolis 500 on consecutive occasions five times since Vel’s Parnelli Jones Racing won in 1970-71, including three straight victories from 2001-03.

Sato could become the fifth oldest Indianapolis 500 winner at 44 years, four months and two days old.
Sato could become the first driver to win three Indianapolis 500s after turning 40 years old.

Row 6:
James Hinchcliffe
This will be Hinchcliffe’s ninth Indianapolis 500 start.
Best Finish: 6th (2012).
Car #29 has never won the Indianapolis 500.
Twice has the winner started 16th, most recently Dario Franchitti in 2012.

Hinchcliffe’s average finish in the Indianapolis 500 is 16.375, ranked 120th out of 256 drivers with at least five Indianapolis 500 starts.
Hinchcliffe needs to lead 46 laps to reach the 100 laps led milestone in the Indianapolis 500.

Only once has Hinchcliffe finished better than his starting position in the Indianapolis 500. That was last year when he started 32nd and finished 11th.
Hinchcliffe has one top five finish in his last 33 starts. That was third at Iowa in 2019.

Scott McLaughlin
This will be McLaughlin’s first Indianapolis 500 start.
Car #3 has won the Indianapolis 500 eleven times, the most victories for a car number. Its most recent victory was in 2009 with Hélio Castroneves.
Twice has the winner started 17th, most recently Eddie Cheever in 1998.

The last driver to use the #3 in the Indianapolis 500 not named Hélio Castroneves was Al Unser, Jr. in 2001.
McLaughlin will be the fifth New Zealander to start the Indianapolis 500 joining Denny Hulme, Graham McRae, Scott Dixon and Wade Cunningham.
McLaughlin could join Hulme as the only New Zealanders to win Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year.

This will be McLaughlin’s seventh IndyCar start. Nine drivers have picked up a first career victory in a seventh career start, but not since Art Bisch at Milwaukee on June 8, 1958.

Two drivers have picked up their first career IndyCar victory in their seventh career start, which happened to be the Indianapolis 500. Louis Schneider did it in 1931 and Floyd Roberts did it in 1938. Both Schneider and Roberts won in car #23 and those two victories remain the only victories for car #23 in IndyCar history.

Graham Rahal
This will be Rahal’s 14th Indianapolis 500 start.
Best Finish: 3rd (2011, 2020).
Car #15 has won the Indianapolis 500 three times, most recently with Buddy Rice in 2004.
The best finish for the 18th-starter is second, which occurred in 1920 by René Thomas and in 2009 and 2010 by Dan Wheldon.

Rahal could break Sam Hanks’ record for most starts before first Indianapolis 500 victory. Hanks’ first victory was in his 13th start.
Rahal has led 20 laps in his Indianapolis 500 career. His father Bobby led 126 laps in his 13 Indianapolis 500 starts.
Rahal could tie Salt Walther and George Snider for most 33rd-place finishes in the Indianapolis 500 at three times.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing could become the first time not named Team Penske to win consecutive Indianapolis 500s since Vel’s Parnelli Jones Racing in 1970-71.
Team Penske has won the Indianapolis 500 on consecutive occasions five times since Vel’s Parnelli Jones Racing won in 1970-71, including three straight victories from 2001-03.

Rahal could become the sixth Ohioan to win the Indianapolis 500 and the first since Sam Hornish, Jr. in 2006.

Row 7:
Conor Daly
This will be Daly’s eighth Indianapolis 500 and hopefully seventh start.
Best Finish: 10th (2019)
Car #47 has never won the Indianapolis 500.
Twice has the winner started 19th, most recently Ryan Hunter-Reay in 2014.

Car #47 is the first number Daly has run in multiple Indianapolis 500s. 

Daly has the 250th best average finish among the 256 drivers with at least five Indianapolis 500 starts at 24.85714. It is the worst average finish among the drivers with at least five Indianapolis 500 starts in this year’s race.
Daly's best finish this season is 16th at Barber and St. Petersburg. He has finished outside the top twenty in the last three races and he has finished outside the top ten in his last ten starts.
Daly has not had a top five finish this he was fifth at Gateway in 2017, 32 starts ago.

Daly could become the eighth Hoosier to win the Indianapolis 500 and first since Wilbur Shaw in 1940.

Jack Harvey
This will be Harvey’s fifth Indianapolis 500 start.
Best Finish: 9th (2020).
Car #60 has never won the Indianapolis 500.
Three times has the winner started 20th, most recently Al Unser in 1987.

This is the second consecutive year Harvey has started 20th in the Indianapolis 500. This is Harvey's worst starting position of the season. Harvey has finished worse than his starting position in the last four races and he has not finished better than his starting position this season. He opened 2021 starting and finishing 11th at Barber.

Harvey could become the first driver to win the Freedom 100 and Indianapolis 500.

This will be Harvey’s 39th IndyCar start. Four drivers have picked up a first career victory in a 39th career start. Manny Ayulo did it at Darlington on July 5, 1954, Jim McElreath did it at Trenton on April 25, 1965, John Andretti did it at Surfers Paradise on March 17, 1991, and Simon Pagenaud did it on June 2, 2013 at Belle Isle.

Josef Newgarden
This will be Newgarden’s tenth Indianapolis 500 start.
Best Finish: 3rd (2016).
Car #2 has won the Indianapolis 500 nine times, most recently Juan Pablo Montoya 2015.
Only once has the winner started 21st and that was L.L. Corum and Joe Boyer in 1924.

This 21st starting position snaps a streak of 12 consecutive top ten starts for Newgarden. The last time he started outside the top ten was 13th in last year's Indianapolis 500.
This is Newgarden's worst starting position since he started 22nd in the 2017 Indianapolis 500, his first Indianapolis 500 with Team Penske. 

Four times has an Indianapolis 500 winner won in their tenth Indianapolis 500 start (A.J. Foyt 1967, Tom Sneva 1983, Al Unser, Jr. 1992 and Emerson Fittipaldi 1993).

The worst starting position for a Team Penske Indianapolis 500 winner is 20th with Al Unser in 1987.
Newgarden could be the first driver to win the Freedom 100 and Indianapolis 500.
Newgarden could become the first Tennessee-born driver to win the Indianapolis 500.

Row 8:
J.R. Hildebrand
This will be Hildebrand’s 11th Indianapolis 500 start.
Best Finish: 2nd (2011).
Car #1 has won the Indianapolis 500 seven times but not since Al Unser in 1971.
Twice has the winner started 22nd but not since Kelly Petillo in 1935.

Hildebrand is the first non-reigning champion to use the #1 in the Indianapolis 500 since Michael Andretti in 2006.
Hildebrand has the 69th best average finish among the 256 drivers with at least five Indianapolis 500 starts at 13.6.
Hildebrand could become the eighth Californian to win the Indianapolis 500. California is currently tied with Indiana for start with the most Indianapolis 500 winners born there on seven drivers.

Santino Ferrucci
This will be Ferrucci’s third Indianapolis 500 start.
Best Finish: 4th (2020)
Car #45 has never won the Indianapolis 500.
The best finish for the 23rd-starter is second by Wilbur Shaw in 1933.

Ferrucci could become the first Connecticut-born driver to win the Indianapolis 500 and he would be just the second Nutmugger to win an IndyCar race, joining Scott Sharp.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing could become the first time not named Team Penske to win consecutive Indianapolis 500s since Vel’s Parnelli Jones Racing in 1970-71.
Team Penske has won the Indianapolis 500 on consecutive occasions five times since Vel’s Parnelli Jones Racing won in 1970-71, including three straight victories from 2001-03.

Ferrucci could become the third youngest Indianapolis 500 winner at 22 years, 11 months and 30 days old. This year’s race is a day before his 23rd birthday.

Juan Pablo Montoya
This will be Montoya’s sixth Indianapolis 500 start.
Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner.
Car #86 has never won the Indianapolis 500.
The best finish for the 24th-starter is 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).
This is Montoya’s worst starting position in the Indianapolis 500.

It is the second consecutive race Montoya has started outside the top twenty. Prior to the start of this month, he had only started outside the top twenty in two of his first 93 IndyCar starts.
Montoya has the 13th best average finish among the 256 drivers with at least five Indianapolis 500 starts at 9.2.

This is the first time car #86 has made the Indianapolis 500 since Jeff Andretti used it in 1991.
Montoya needs to lead seven laps to become the 31st driver to lead 200 laps in the Indianapolis 500.

Montoya could join Bobby Unser and Rick Mears as the only drivers to win the Indianapolis 500 in three different decades.
Montoya could become the fifth oldest Indianapolis 500 winner at 45 years, eight months and ten days old.

Row 9:
Marco Andretti
This will be Andretti’s 16th Indianapolis 500 start.
Best Finish: 2nd (2006).
Car #98 has won the Indianapolis 500 four times, most recently Alexander Rossi 2016.
Only once has the winner started 25th and that was Johnny Rutherford in 1974.

Rutherford won that 1974 race after starting on pole position the year before without leading a lap. Last year, Andretti started on pole position and did not lead a lap. That 1974 race is one of seven rain-shortened Indianapolis 500s.

Andretti could break Sam Hanks’ record for most starts before first Indianapolis 500 victory. Hanks’ won the 1957 Indianapolis 500, his 13th start in the race.
Andretti needs to lead 59 laps to reach the 200 laps led milestone in the Indianapolis 500.

Andretti has not finished in the top five of his last six Indianapolis 500 starts after having five top five finishes in his first ten Indianapolis 500 starts. He has also not led a lap in any of the last six races after leading a lap in seven of his first nine Indianapolis 500s.

Andretti has an average finish of 12th in 15 Indianapolis 500 starts. He is tied with Jim Clark, Earl DeVore, Simon Pagenaud, Bobby Rahal and Floyd Roberts for 46th best average finish among the 256 drivers with at least five Indianapolis 500 starts.
Andretti’s father Michael ranks 44th at 11.75. His grandfather Mario ranks 168th at 18.25 and his uncle John ranks 166that 18.08333.

Andretti could become the first Pennsylvania-born driver to win the Indianapolis 500 since Bill Holland in 1949.
A victory for Andretti would make him and his grandfather Mario the first grandfather-grandson duo to win the Indianapolis 500.

Simon Pagenaud
This will be Pagenaud’s tenth Indianapolis 500 start.
2019 Indianapolis 500 winner
Pagenaud’s 2019 victory was car #22’s first Indianapolis 500 victory.
The best finish for the 26th-starter is third by Don Freeland in 1956 and by Paul Goldsmith in 1960.

This is the worst starting position of Pagenaud’s IndyCar career. His previous worst was 25th at last year’s Indianapolis 500.
This is the 12th time Pagenaud has started outside the top ten in the last 20 races.

Pagenaud needs to lead 34 laps to reach the 200 laps led milestone in the Indianapolis 500. 
Pagenaud has only led 15 laps over his last 19 starts. Fourteen of those laps led were in last year's Indianapolis 500.

Pagenaud could become only the third driver with multiple Indianapolis 500 victories driving for Team Penske. Rick Mears and Hélio Castroneves are the only drivers to have done it.

Sébastien Bourdais
This will be Bourdais’ ninth Indianapolis 500 start.
Best Finish: 7th (2014)
Car #14 has won the Indianapolis 500 six times, most recently with Kenny Bräck in 1999.
Only once has the winner started 27th and that was by Fred Frame in 1932.

This is Bourdais’ worst Indianapolis 500 starting position and the worst starting position in his career. His previous worst Indianapolis 500 starting position was 25th in 2012. His previous worst career starting position was 26th at the 2012 St. Petersburg race driving a Lotus-powered Dragon Racing entry.

Bourdais has 37 IndyCar victories and he is one of three drivers with at least 30 IndyCar victories but zero Indianapolis 500 victories. Michael Andretti has the most with 42 victories and Paul Tracy has 31 victories.

Bourdais' four championships is the most for a driver without an Indianapolis 500 victory. Only six other drivers have multiple IndyCar championships and zero Indianapolis 500 victories. Ted Horn is the only other driver with at least three championships to never win the Indianapolis 500 while Rex Mays, Tony Bettenhausen, Joe Leonard, Alex Zanardi and Josef Newgarden all have two championships and zero Indianapolis 500 victories.

Bourdais could become the tenth oldest Indianapolis 500 winner at 42 years, three months and two days old.

Row 10:
Stefan Wilson
This will be Wilson’s third Indianapolis 500 start.
Best Finish: 15th (2018)
Car #25 has won the Indianapolis 500 once, Al Unser’s fourth victory in 1987.

Twice has the winner started 28th, inaugural winner Ray Harroun in 1911 and Louis Meyer in 1936.

Wilson led three laps in his last Indianapolis 500 before he had to make his final stop with five laps to go. It is one of 17 Indianapolis 500s where the final lead change has come in the final five laps of the race.

Stefan’s brother Justin led 13 laps in eight Indianapolis 500 starts.

Max Chilton
This will be Chilton’s fifth Indianapolis 500 start.
Best Finish: 4th (2017)
Car #59 has never won the Indianapolis 500.
The best finish for the 29th-starter is second in 1911 by Ralph Mulford and in 2002 by Paul Tracy.

Chilton needs to lead 50 laps to reach the 100 laps led milestone in the Indianapolis 500.
Chilton has not led a lap since he led ten at Portland in 2018.
Chilton has not had a top ten finish in his last 42 starts.

This will be Chilton’s 75th IndyCar start. Only 11 drivers took greater than 75 starts to get a first career victory, including Arie Luyendyk, whose first career victory was the 1990 Indianapolis 500, Luyendyk’s 76th start.

Dalton Kellett
This will be Kellett’s second Indianapolis 500 start
Best Finish: 31st (2020)
Car #4 has won the Indianapolis 500 five times but not since Emerson Fittipaldi in 1993.
The best finish for the 30th-starter was fourth in 1936 by Mauri Rose.

Kellett has finished better than his starting position in four of five races this season with the only exception being starting and finished 23rd for the second Texas race.

This is the worst starting position of Kellet’s career. His previous worst was 26th in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis last year, his IndyCar debut.

Row 11:
Sage Karam
This will be Karam’s eighth Indianapolis 500 start.
Best Finish: 9th (2014).
Car #24 has won the Indianapolis 500 once, Graham Hill 1966.
The best finish for the 31st-starter is fourth in 1951 by Andy Linden.

This is the fourth time Karam is starting 31st in the Indianapolis 500. He went from 31st to ninth on debut in 2014.

Karam could become the first Pennsylvania-born driver to win the Indianapolis 500 since Bill Holland in 1949.

Karam has the 249th best average finish among the 256 drivers with at least five Indianapolis 500 starts at 24.2857.

Will Power
This will be Power’s 14th Indianapolis 500 start.
2018 Indianapolis 500 winner.
Car #12 has won the Indianapolis 500 twice, most recently with Power in 2019. The other was Peter DePaolo in 1925 driving the #12 Miller.
The best finish for the 32nd-starter is second in 1957 by Jim Rathmann and 1981 by Mario Andretti.

This is the first time a Team Penske car is starting on the final row of the Indianapolis 500 since 1978 when Mario Andretti started 33rd. Andretti started 33rd because he replaced Mike Hiss, who qualified the car eighth while Andretti drove won the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder.

Last year, Power broke the record for most consecutive Indianapolis 500s led as it was his eighth consecutive year leading the race.
Power needs to lead 56 laps to reach the 200 laps led milestone in the Indianapolis 500.

Power has the 36th best average finish among the 256 drivers with at least five Indianapolis 500 starts at 11.5384.

The only time an Indianapolis 500 winner won the race in a 14th Indianapolis 500 start was Rick Mears in 1991.
Power could become only the third driver with multiple Indianapolis 500 victories driving for Team Penske. Rick Mears and Hélio Castroneves are the only drivers to have done it.

The last time the 32nd starter finished in the top five was when Alexander Rossi finished fourth in 2018.

Simona de Silvestro
This will be de Silvestro’s sixth Indianapolis 500 start.
Best Finish: 14th (2010).
Car #16 has won the Indianapolis 500 four times, but not since George Robson in 1946.
The best finish for the 33rd-starter is second in 1980 by Tom Sneva and 1992 by Scott Goodyear.

De Silvestro has the 237th best average finish among the 256 drivers with at least five Indianapolis 500 starts at 22.6

This is de Silvestro’s first Indianapolis 500 start since 2015.

The last time the 33rd starter finished in the top ten was in 2001 when Felipe Giaffone finished tenth.
The last time the 33rd starter finished in the top five was Goodyear’s runner-up finish in 1992.

Pre-race coverage for the 105th Indianapolis 500 will begin at 9:00 a.m. ET on NBCSN. NBC's pre-race coverage will begin at 11:00 a.m. ET. Green flag is scheduled for 12:45 p.m. ET. The race is scheduled for 200 laps.


Thursday, May 27, 2021

Track Walk: 105th Indianapolis 500

This Memorial Day weekends\ feels a little more familiar

The sixth round of the 2021 NTT IndyCar Series season is the 105th Indianapolis 500. Thirty-five drivers competed for 33 spots in the lone double points race on the calendar during qualifying last weekend. Two drivers have been sent home and we are left with 17 Hondas and 16 Chevrolets in the field of 33. With nine past Indianapolis 500 winners in this year's race, it ties the 1987 race for the second most all-time. Two drivers are making their Indianapolis 500 debut. One is a champion from the Southern Hemisphere. The other is a famous name and will become the third member of his family to start this race. Fifteen nationalities are represented in this year's race, a new record, breaking the previous record of 13, which happened for three consecutive years from 2012 through 2014.

Coverage
Time: Pre-race coverage begins at 9:00 a.m. ET on NBCSN. NBC's coverage of the Indianapolis 500 will begin at 11:00 a.m. ET.
TV Channel: NBC.
Announcers: Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy will be in the booth. Kevin Lee, Kelli Stavast and Marty Snider will work pit lane. Jimmie Johnson and Steve Letarte will provide additional pit lane coverage. Mike Tirico and Danica Patrick will participate in pre-race and post-race coverage.

Indianapolis 500 Weekend Schedule
Carb Day:
Practice - 11:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m. ET (2 hours). NBCSN will have live coverage.
Sunday:
Race - 12:45 p.m. ET (200 laps).

On to Carb Day
Friday will be the final chance for teams to tune their cars and work out any kinks. It also provides one final chance to see who is on the right track and who could be lost entering race day. 

Practice does not always paint an accurate practice. After winning pole position, and being in the top three of every practice prior to Carb Day last year, Marco Andretti was 28th in the final practice session. In the race, Andretti dropped from the front immediately, never led a lap and ended up 13th. Similarly, Conor Daly was in the top ten of the first four practice sessions, but Daly dropped to 18th on Carb Day and was running in the middle of the field when he had an accident off of turn four.

On the reverse side of things, Scott Dixon was all in the top three of the first four practice sessions, was second on Carb Day and ended up finishing second after leading majority of the race. Takuma Sato's practice results in 2020 were a little scattered, opening the week in 13th before running second and eighth before qualifying. Sato dropped to 26th in the post-qualifying practice but jumped back up to fourth on Carb Day.

Then there are the unexplainable results. Graham Rahal's best practice result last year was 14th and he was 25th on Carb Day, but Rahal was third after 500 miles. Santino Ferrucci was fifth in the post-qualifying practice, but he was 19th, 21st, 23rd and 21st in the other practice sessions and still finished fourth. Patricio O'Ward found speed all week. Each practice result got better, and it ended with O'Ward eighth in the post-qualifying practice and fastest on Carb Day. He would finish seventh. 

Dixon has been on top all week this year. He led the Wednesday and Friday practices, he was fifth on Thursday and in the post-qualifying practice, and his worst practice result was eighth on opening day. The entire Ganassi field has been consistent. Tony Kanaan has been in the top five of the last four practice sessions and his worst result was 11th. Marcus Ericsson has been in the top ten of every practice day. Álex Palou topped the post-qualifying practice. 

After ending up 19th on Fast Friday and qualifying, Conor Daly was back up to third in the post-qualifying practice, his fourth practice session in the top five. Daly's teammate and front row start Rinus VeeKay had his worst practice result, 23rd in the post-qualifying practice. Ed Carpenter also had his worst practice result at 25th on Sunday evening. 

Andretti Autosport teammates and Fast Nine participants Colton Herta and Ryan Hunter-Reay each had their worst practice result in post-qualifying practice. Hunter-Reay was 32nd after his average practice result was tenth over the first four practice days. Herta was building up over practice week, finishing tenth and second on Thursday and Friday, but he ended up 29th in the Sunday evening session. Coincidentally, the slowest two Andretti cars in qualifying were the fastest two in the post-qualifying practice. Stefan Wilson was eighth and Marco Andretti was tenth, Andretti's second day finishing in the top ten. 

Takuma Sato remained consistent after qualifying, ending up sixth in the evening practice, his fourth practice in the top ten out of five. Graham Rahal picked up his best practice result on Sunday evening, ending up seventh. 

Last Row Shootout participant Will Power led the Team Penske quartet in 11th. Scott McLaughlin was 15th with Josef Newgarden in 26th and Simon Pagenaud in 28th. 

A driver who has topped at least one of the pre-qualifying practice days has not gone on to win the Indianapolis 500 since Ryan Hunter-Reay in 2014. However, Simon Pagenaud topped the post-qualifying Monday practice in 2019, six days before the Frenchman's victory. 

Tony Kanaan has topped Carb Day in three of the last five years and four in the last seven years. The last driver to top Carb Day and go on to win the race was Dario Franchitti in 2012.

Weather Report
Unfortunately, Carb Day might not go as planned. 

The forecast calls for rain Friday morning into the early afternoon. There could be a break in the afternoon and IndyCar has already said it is making contingency plans and IndyCar president Jay Frye has left the door open to a session on Saturday if necessary. Frye admitted Saturday's tight schedule would make a practice session difficult. 

Temperatures will drop significantly from practice week and qualifying weekend. Friday calls for a high of 68º F with winds from the West at 10-15 mph. Saturday drops into the 50s with a high of 59º F and winds remaining consistent at 10-15 mph, but from the North-Northeast. 

Sunday will be warmer, with a high of 71º F, and winds from five to ten miles per hour from the North-Northeast. The best news is chance of precipitation remains below 10% for both Saturday and Sunday.

Dixon's Place in History
We know Scott Dixon's legacy is rather undisputed entering the 105th Indianapolis 500. 

Dixon has six championships, and he will make his 19th Indianapolis 500 start as the NTT IndyCar Series championship leader. He sits on 51 victories, third all-time and one behind Mario Andretti for second. Earlier this season, Dixon moved up to fourth all-time in laps led. His victory at Texas made Dixon made him the first driver to win a race in 19 different seasons. He is currently second all-time in runner-up finishes, second all-time in podium finishes and second all-time in top five finishes. On top of Dixon's place in IndyCar history, the New Zealander is looking to put himself among the all-time greatest in the Indianapolis 500. 

With a four-lap average of 231.685 mph, Dixon won his fourth Indianapolis 500 pole position. He became the fifth driver with at least four pole positions in event history. This is his third Indianapolis 500 pole position since 2015. His only Indianapolis 500 victory came from pole position in 2008. Dixon could become just the third driver to win multiple Indianapolis 500s from pole position. Rick Mears won three times from pole position (1979, 1988 and 1991). Johnny Rutherford won from pole position in 1976 and 1980. 

Last year, Dixon led 111 laps on his way to a runner-up finish to Takuma Sato. It was the fifth time Dixon has led the most laps in the Indianapolis 500, a new record, breaking a tie with Mario Andretti, who led the most laps in four Indianapolis 500s. Those 111 laps moved Dixon up to third all-time in Indianapolis 500 laps led. His 563 laps led have him seven laps ahead of Andretti and Dixon is 37 laps away from becoming the third driver to lead 600 laps in the Indianapolis 500. He is also 82 laps led away from surpassing Al Unser for the most laps led in the history of the event. 

A top five finish would make Dixon just one of five drivers with at least nine top five finishes in the Indianapolis 500, joining Al Unser, A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears and Ted Horn. A runner-up finish would make him the all-time leader with four runner-up finishes in this grand race. He is currently tied with Al Unser, Bill Holland, Harry Hartz, Jim Rathmann, Tom Sneva, Wilbur Shaw and Hélio Castroneves on three runner-up finishes. 

Victory would make Dixon the 21st driver with at least two Indianapolis 500 victories. It has been 14 years since Dixon's one and only Indianapolis 500 victory and a victory in this year's race would be the second most Indianapolis 500s between victories for a driver. Juan Pablo Montoya had 15 races between his two victories, but Montoya only started one of those 15 races in-between. Dixon has run every year at Indianapolis since 2003. 

Sato Shoots For Three
After becoming the 20th multi-time Indianapolis 500 winner in 2020, Takuma Sato has the task of trying to become the 11th driver with at least three victories in this race. 

Sato is in a good run of form at Indianapolis. He has won two of the last four races and he is the only driver with multiple Indianapolis 500 victories in the last decade. He was also third in 2018. His three top five finishes have all come in the last four years after his best finish in his first seven Indianapolis 500 starts was 13th. 

Sato could be following a Dario Franchitti-esque path. All three of Franchitti's victories came in a five start span from 2007 through 2012. Franchitti was not in the 2008 race. Hélio Castroneves won three of his first nine starts. All three of Wilbur Shaw's victories came over four races from 1937 to 1940. Mauri Rose also had three victories in four starts. Rose won as a co-driver with Floyd Davis in 1941 before winning solo in 1947 and 1948.

With 78 laps led, Sato has the fewest laps led among the 20 multi-time winners. He is the only multi-time winner with fewer than 100 laps led. Al Unser, Jr. has the next fewest laps led with 110. 

This is the second consecutive year, and third in his last four, Sato enters the Indianapolis 500 without a top five finish in any of the races preceding it. He has won a race in each of the last four seasons, but he has only finished in the top ten once in the race preceding one of his victory and that was seventh at Austin before winning at Barber in 2019. Sato was 16th in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

Sato became only the third driver to win multiple Indianapolis 500s after the age of 40 last year, joining Bobby Unser and Emerson Fittipaldi. Sato could become the first driver to win three Indianapolis 500s after the age of 40.

Young vs. Old
The youths have controlled IndyCar this season. Four of the five winners were 24 years old or younger and three of the winners were under the age of 22 when they made it to victory lane. While this abundance of youth is tasting the fruits of victory in 2021, Indianapolis has treated the elder statesmen with more respect. 

The only two Indianapolis 500 winners since reunification who were under the age of 30 were Scott Dixon in 2008 and Alexander Rossi in 2016. Of the 13 winners since reunification, only two of them won with fewer than six Indianapolis 500 starts. One of those was Rossi's debutant victory but the other was Juan Pablo Montoya who won in his third start in 2015, but at 39 years old. 

Three of the winners this season happen to be the three drivers who could set the record for youngest Indianapolis 500 winner and the youngest two drivers in this race are starting on the front row. 

Colton Herta qualified second, his best starting position and his third consecutive year starting in the top ten of the Indianapolis 500. Herta led 97 of 100 laps at St. Petersburg a month ago and he was fifth in the second Texas race at the start of May. It has been a teeter-totter year for the American. He was caught in the opening lap accident at Barber and suffering a wheel bearing failure in the first Texas race. An off-track excursion took him out of a top ten finish in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. 

Rinus VeeKay could win at just 20 years old and he qualified third, the youngest front row starter in the history of the race. VeeKay is coming off his first career victory in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. The last two years Indianapolis hosted two races in May saw the road course race winner take victory in the Indianapolis 500. However, no driver has had their first two victories come in consecutive races since A.J. Allmendinger in 2006. 

Patricio O'Ward is fourth in the championship, and he won the most recent oval race at Texas, but he ended up 12th in qualifying. O'Ward oval results are remarkable. He has been on the podium in his last four oval starts. He has five top five finishes in eight career oval starts and he was sixth in last year's Indianapolis 500, earning him Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year honors. The Mexican worst oval finish is 12th. 

On the flip side of the youth, the age and experience again looks strong at Indianapolis. 

Tony Kanaan is back with Chip Ganassi Racing and he qualified fifth. This is Kanaan's best Indianapolis 500 starting position since he started fourth in 2015. This is only his second time starting in the top five in the Indianapolis 500 in the last 13 years. He is looking to pick up where he left off when he was last with Ganassi. Kanaan had finishes of fourth and fifth at Indianapolis in 2016 and 2017. He has led a lap in a record 14 Indianapolis 500s.

Hélio Castroneves makes his 12th attempt at his fourth Indianapolis 500 victory, and it will come with Meyer Shank Racing, Castroneves' first Indianapolis appearance with a team other than Team Penske. The Brazilian will start eighth. Though Castroneves has shown good pace and experience has been leading the way at Indianapolis, the Brazilian has not been the benefactor. In his three Indianapolis 500 starts since becoming a part-time entrant, he has finished 27th, 18th and 11th. 

Juan Pablo Montoya has not been at Indianapolis since 2017, but he is looking for his third Indianapolis 500 victory in six Indianapolis 500 starts. Montoya could join Bobby Unser and Rick Mears as the only drivers with Indianapolis 500 victories in three different decades. He could join A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Bobby Unser as the only drivers to win the Indianapolis 500 with three different teams. Unfortunately, Montoya continued a bad trend in qualifying. His starting position has gotten worse for a fifth consecutive Indianapolis 500. He will start 24th after starting second, tenth, 15th, 17th and 18th in his first five Indianapolis 500 starts.

Long-Time Coming
Between the multi-time winners and youngsters, there is a batch of middle-aged drivers who have spent a healthy portion of their lives running this race but have yet to pick up an Indianapolis 500 victory. Five drivers will be making at least their tenth Indianapolis start this year and have yet to taste the milk.

Ed Carpenter makes his 18th Indianapolis 500 start from fourth on the grid. Carpenter has started on one of the first two rows in six of the last nine Indianapolis 500s. He has only two top five finishes in his career, a fifth in 2008 and second in 2018. Carpenter has led 146 laps in his Indianapolis 500 career, the fifth most all-time among drivers without a victory.  

Graham Rahal rolls off from 18th in this year's race for what is Rahal's 14th start. This is the eighth time Rahal has started on row six or worse for the Indianapolis 500. He has finished ahead of his starting position in seven of his Indianapolis 500 starts, including going from eighth to third last year. He has only four top ten finishes in this race

Josef Newgarden makes his tenth Indianapolis 500 start this year and the two-time IndyCar champion's results have been getting better over the years. After averaging a finish of 27.667 over his first three Indianapolis 500 starts, Newgarden has three top five finishes and five top ten finishes in his last six trips to Indianapolis with his worst finish being 19th. 

J.R. Hildebrand will be making his 11th Indianapolis 500 attempt and this one will be his first with A.J. Foyt Racing. This is the fourth different team Hildebrand has competed with at Indianapolis. Remembered for his painful runner-up finish as a rookie in 2011, after he collided with the turn four wall while leading coming to the checkered flag, Hildebrand has four top ten finishes in this race, but he has finished outside the top ten in his last four Indianapolis 500 starts.

Marco Andretti is 34 years old and he will be making his 16th Indianapolis 500 start. Andretti enters with three consecutive finishes outside the top ten in this race. He failed to lead a lap last year after starting on pole position. Twenty-fifth is his second worst starting position in this race, as he started 27th in 2011. He has led 141 laps in this race, the sixth most all-time among those without a victory. 

The Championship Picture
While the focus is on this race, the championship remains in play and after Indianapolis 500 qualifying, a few drivers on top got a little richer. 

On top of the $100,000 Scott Dixon earned for pole position, he also picked up nine championship points, increasing his championship lead to 185 points. Álex Palou remains second, and with a sixth place starting position Palou scored four points, lifting his total to 167 points, but his deficit to his Ganassi teammate grew to 18 points. 

Josef Newgarden and Patricio O'Ward remain third and fourth, but they are now 37 points and 39 points behind Dixon respectively. Rinus VeeKay's third place starting position gave him seven points and lifted him into the top five in the championship on 142 points, 43 points off Dixon. Graham Rahal dropped to sixth on 137 points. 

Simon Pagenaud remains seventh on 130 points, but Colton Herta leaps from tenth to eighth after Herta qualified second and picked up eight points. The Californian now has 125 points, two more than Scott McLaughlin and Will Power drops to tenth on 118 points. 

Marcus Ericsson's point for qualifying ninth gets him to 100 points, but the Swede remains 11th in the championship. Takuma Sato is 12th on 98 points with Jack Harvey on 97 points in 13th. Alexander Rossi sits on 91 points, 14th in the championship. Romain Grosjean rounds out the top fifteen with 81 points, but Grosjean is not running the Indianapolis 500. 

Sébastien Bourdais has 79 points, and Ryan Hunter-Reay picks up three points for qualifying seventh, but it does not move Hunter-Reay up in the championship. It only increases Hunter-Reay's total to 78 points. Felix Rosenqvist is 18th on 71 points, Ed Jones is 19th with 67 points and James Hinchcliffe rounds out the top twenty on 56 points. Conor Daly and Dalton Kellett are tied on 48 points.

Tony Kanaan and Ed Carpenter have their own little championship battle brewing. Both drivers are only contesting the oval races and both made the Fast Nine. One point separated the two entering qualifying and they leave tied on 39 points as Carpenter scored six points for qualifying fourth and Kanaan scored five points for qualifying fifth. 

Jimmie Johnson has 25 points in 25th, but Johnson is not in this race. Pietro Fittipaldi has 24 points while Max Chilton enters with 16 points. Juan Pablo Montoya has nine points from the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Charlie Kimball did not qualify for the Indianapolis 500, but he does have eight points from the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. This is Hélio Castroneves' first race of the season, but his eighth-place qualifying effort has spotted him an extra two points in the championship.

Carb Night Classic
While IndyCar is at the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Road to Indy will be at the 0.686-mile Indianapolis Raceway Park for its Carb Night Classic event. 

Indy Pro 2000 will run the Freedom 90 and 12 cars are entered for this year's race.

Braden Eves enters as the championship leader with 171 points. Eves has two victories this season and he was on the podium in all three races on the IMS road course earlier this month. However, Christian Rasmssuen's two victories on the IMS road course has the Dane only three points behind the American. Artem Petrov is 27 points behind his Exclusive Autosport teammate Eves and Petrov won the second IMS road course race. 

Reece Gold has four podium finishes this season, but he is still looking for his first victory. Gold sits on 137 points. Hunter McElrea failed to pick up a top five finish on the IMS road course and McElrea dropped to fifth in the championship on 117 points. Enaam Ahmed rounds out the top six on 100 points.

Manuel Sulaimán started on pole position last year for the Freedom 90 and he led the first 30 laps before Kody Swanson took the lead. Sulaimán would go onto finish second and the Mexican enters this year's race with 90 points, two ahead of Kyffin Simpson, who picked up his first career podium finish in the second IMS road course race. 

Jacob Abel, Wyatt Brichacek, Jack William Miller and James Roe round out the entry list. 

The Freedom 90 will be at 8:00 p.m. ET on Friday May 28. 

Twenty-four cars are entered for U.S. F2000's Freedom 75 from Indianapolis Raceway Park.

Yuven Sundaramoorthy re-took the championship lead with his two victories and a third on the IMS road course. The Wisconsinite has 154 points and the Pabst Racing driver has a 13-point lead over DEForce Racing's Kiko Porto. Porto won the third race on the IMS road course. Neither of the championship top two had great races last year at IRP. Sundaramoorthy was ninth while Porto was a lap down in 14th.

Christian Brooks dropped to third in the championship on 138 points, tied with Josh Pierson, after Brooks was disqualified from the third race after failing technical inspection. Brooks was second on the road and Brooks' exclusion lifted Pierson to second. Michael d'Orlando has four consecutive top five finishes and he rounds out the top five on 117 points. 

After opening the season with a second and a first, Prescott Campbell's best finish is sixth and he has 101 points, four points ahead of Spike Kohlbecker. Josh Green sits on 91 points, four ahead of Thomas Nepveu and Billy Frazer rounds out the top ten on 74 points. 

The Freedom 75 will open Friday night's activities at 7:00 p.m. ET.

Fast Facts
This will be the 59th IndyCar race on May 30 and the first since Carlos Muñoz picked up his first and only IndyCar victory in a rain-shortened race at Belle Isle. 

This is the first Indianapolis 500 on May 30 since Dario Franchitti won in 2010. 

This year's race falls on the 44th anniversary of A.J. Foyt's fourth Indianapolis 500 victory.

This will be the 174th 500-mile race in IndyCar history.

A total of 97 drivers have won a 500-mile IndyCar race. Thirty-three drivers have won multiple 500-mile races.

Thirteen different nationalities have won a 500-mile race. 

The United States has produced the most 500-mile race winners with 66. Brazil and the United Kingdom has each produced seven 500-mile race winners. Canada has had four, Italy and France have each had three winners. The Netherlands, Sweden, Mexico, Colombia, New Zealand, Australia and Japan have each produced one winner. 

Chevrolet has won 12 of 19 500-mile races since 2012. 

Six of the last ten Indianapolis 500s have been completed in under three hours. Only five of the first 87 Indianapolis 500s that went the distance were completed in under three hours.

This year's grid features...

11 Americans. 

Three Britons. 

Three Brazilians, though one was born in Miami, Florida. 

Two New Zealanders.

Two Swedes.

Two Frenchmen.

Two Canadians.

One Dutchman. 

One Spaniard.

One Emirati. 

One Mexican. 

One Japanese.

One Colombian. 

One Australian and...

One Swiss.

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

Simon Pagenaud, Sébastien Bourdais, Marco Andretti, Rinus VeeKay or Patricio O'Ward could join Alex Lloyd, Jack Harvey, Dean Stoneman, Will Power, Colton Herta and Scott Dixon as the only drivers to win both on the oval and road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Josef Newgarden or Rinus VeeKay could join Will Power, Simon Pagenaud and Scott Dixon as the only drivers to win an IndyCar race on the IMS oval and road course. 

The average starting position for the Indianapolis 500 winner is 7.4326 with a median of fourth. 

The last three winners have started on the front row. It is the longest streak for front row winners since 2006 through 2010.

The average number of lead changes in the Indianapolis 500 is 13.615 with a median of ten. 

Last year's race had 21 lead changes, the fewest in the DW12-era and the fewest since 13 in 2010.

The driver who led the most laps has won only two of the last ten Indianapolis 500s, Ryan Hunter-Reay in 2014 and Simon Pagenaud in 2019. 

The average number of cautions in the Indianapolis 500 is 7.673 with a median of eight. The average number of caution laps is 44.478 with a median of 43.5. 

Only one of the last 30 Indianapolis 500s have had fewer than five cautions. The 2019 race had only four cautions.

This will be the 72nd Indianapolis 500 victory for Firestone. 

This will be the 21st Indianapolis 500 victory for Dallara, extending Dallara's record for most Indianapolis 500 victories for a chassis manufacture.

If Honda wins the race, it will be the manufacture's 14th Indianapolis 500 victory. Honda is currently second all-time in victories for engine manufactures. 

If Chevrolet wins the race, it will tie Miller for third all-time on 12 Indianapolis 500 victories. 

Possible Milestones:
Scott Dixon is one victory away from tying Mario Andretti for second all-time with 52 victories.

Scott Dixon is one podium finish away from his 125th podium finish.

Will Power is one victory away from the 40-victory milestone.

Alexander Rossi is one podium finish away from his 25th podium finish. 

Hélio Castroneves is one top five finish away from breaking a tie with Al Unser, Jr. for fourth all-time on 141 top five finishes. 

Sébastien Bourdais needs to lead 43 laps to reach the 2,700 laps led milestone.

Josef Newgarden needs to lead one lap to reach 2,500 laps led milestone.

Juan Pablo Montoya needs to lead 133 laps to reach 2,500 laps led milestone.

Ryan Hunter-Reay needs to lead 51 laps to reach the 1,600 laps led milestone.

Alexander Rossi needs to lead 198 laps to reach the 1,000 laps led milestone.

James Hinchcliffe needs to lead 19 laps to reach the 800 laps led milestone.

Graham Rahal needs to lead 58 laps to reach the 500 laps led milestone.

Colton Herta needs to lead 149 laps to reach the 500 laps led milestone.
 
Predictions
Scott Dixon wins the race, but he does not break Al Unser's record most all-time laps led. Dixon will get to 600 laps led though. There will be at least 32 lead changes. Alexander Rossi will be the top Andretti Autosport finisher. The average age of the top five finishers will be over 33.5 years old. Team Penske will have two finishers in the top ten. Will Power will be the biggest mover in the race. Patricio O'Ward will not be the top Arrow McLaren SP finisher. Max Chilton will complete all 500 miles. At least two drivers get their first career top ten finish in the Indianapolis 500. Marco Andretti will not be the worst Andretti Autosport finisher. There will not be an accident coming to a restart. Sleeper: Marcus Ericsson.