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Not just anyone can win at the famed 2.5-mile oval. It takes a great amount of skill as drivers are pulling 3-4 g-forces in each of the four corners 200 times on race day. Most people are picking drivers like Helio Castroneves, Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon as favorites to win this year’s 97th Running of the 500.
I say watch out for E.J. Viso.
Viso is off to the best start of his career and coming to Indianapolis with a lot of momentum. The 28-year old is in his first season with Andretti Autosport and has finishes of seventh, 12th, 22nd and sixth to start the season off. He earned his first career front row start in the last race at Brazil and has shown flashes of brilliance.
His organization Andretti Autosport has won two of the four poles, three of the four races and has the defending series champion. Last year they also put two cars on the front row and three in the top four at Indy.
After stints with HVM Racing and KV Racing he’s shown more and more patience as the years gone on. Viso had Jimmy Vasser as his race strategist last year and ended up with the best year of his career.
Now, it’s his turn to shine.
He has three talented teammates to help and compare set ups.
“As of now it’s been a wash between Ryan (Hunter-Reay) and James (Hinchcliffe),” said Viso regarding with whom he has similar driving styles. “At Long Beach James pretty much copied the set up that I had and he really liked it. I copied Ryan’s set up at Barber and I really liked that. I think we have a great team including obviously this race with adding rookie Carlos (Munoz).”
At Indy Viso has progressively been getting stronger and stronger. He qualified ninth last year and finished 18th. With how strong he was with KV he should be even faster with Andretti.
He said the best advice given to him for Indy was to have “respect and patience. I think with those two words a lot of things starts with them. I’m now looking to start my sixth Indianapolis 500 and have realized those are the two key words.”
Boy, is he ever right and living by those words.
I’ve seen a lot of respect and patience out of Viso over the last year. His hardwork and patience is paying off as he currently sits tied for 10th in the points entering Indy and could move even closer to the championship hunt leaving here.
His team has been strong all month. All five cars are near the top of the speed charts as Viso is ninth as of Wednesday at 223.138 mph. He completed the most laps on Tuesday nearly running 400 miles in practice alone that day. That much effort will pay off for him this weekend in qualifying and on race day May 26th.
“We’re not trying to show off but I think we’re obviously going to make it in solidly,” said Viso. “We haven’t been at all working on qualifying trims. All we’ve been doing is working on a fast car for the race together. That’s all we’ve been thinking of.”
With all the experience he and his teammates including their car owner Michael Andretti has at Indy, Viso is in a good place to earn his first career IndyCar victory in the biggest race on the biggest stage in the world next Sunday. He’s a great guy in the paddock and his dedication is paying off in big ways.