INDIANAPOLIS – It looks like it’s shaping up to be another Honda dominated Indianapolis 500. Last year, Honda drivers led 129 of the 200 laps in the 100th Running of the event, and with an aerokit freeze in the offseason, there wasn’t much Chevrolet could do to close the gap between the two manufacturers on superspeedways since.
Also in 2016, Honda drivers won two poles and three of the 16 races. Both feats were on superspeedways. They led only 110 total laps away from Indy, Pocono and Texas last year.
Obviously, how Chevy has a huge advantage on short ovals, Honda has that same advantage on superspeedways.
So, without much innovation on the manufacturer end of things in the offseason, practice this week is already showing that it appears this month will be a fight between Honda teams. If that ends up being the case, next weekend’s Indianapolis 500 (11 a.m. ET/ABC/INDYCAR Radio Network) could very well be an intense fight between Andretti Autosport vs. Chip Ganassi Racing.
Honda, took 14 of the top 17 starting spots on Sunday.
First off, I don’t want to discredit any of the other Honda teams as they have a realistic shot at winning too. But, Ganassi and Andretti have the most resources out of any of the Honda teams and they’ve combined to win seven of the last 10 ‘500’s. I’m counting the Bryan Herta Autosport win in 2011 with Dan Wheldon here too since he’s joined with Andretti now.
Also, Ganassi who was with Chevy last year, now has the most information out of anyone about the difference between Chevy and Honda on superspeedways. They know where Chevy is lacking and how to expose that even more on the Honda side. They’ve been very confident leading up to this month knowing that the ‘500 was their shot to win.
Furthermore, this group took nine of the top 16 starting spots.
Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan are the obvious favorites, as Dixon won this race in 2008 and Kanaan in 2013.
Dixon, has finished in the top five in all five races this season, as well as having 10 top 10’s in 14 Indy 500 starts.
Kanaan, has four top fives in his last six Indy 500’s starts and easily should have at least three victories in this race to his credit. He was fourth last year with a Chevy, imagine what he could do with a Honda.
Also, don’t count out Charlie Kimball who’s had two straight top fives at Indy, a third in 2015 and a fifth last year. He has four top 10’s in six Indy tries as the only other two finishes were 13th and 31st. He’s going to be a factor too.
Max Chilton is ready and primed for a solid run in the fourth Ganassi seat as well. They 26-year old finished 15th as a rookie in 2016.
On the Andretti side, Ryan Hunter-Reay is the obvious favorite. He won in 2014 and is very strong and aggressive at Indy. If not for a pit road incident with his teammate Townsend Bell last year, he could have been the one in victory lane. He has two top three’s in his last four Indy starts.
Marco Andretti is destined for good luck too. He’s normally strong at Indy and if that curse can end, maybe his No. 27 Honda is in victory lane next Sunday. He’s started in the Fast Nine in four of the last five years and has seven top 10’s in 12 tries. Also, he has five top fives in those races too.
Takuma Sato has a car to contend too and he is also very aggressive to make the right moves when needed. He was one lap away from a possible win in 2012 but he crashed out trying. Don’t count out Alexander Rossi going back to victory lane for a second straight year either.
Fernando Alonso or Jack Harvey as rookies can easily contend as well.
Andretti saw five of their six cars start in the top 10.
So, as you can see, next Sunday could easily be a fight of two powerhouses under on camp in Honda. They’re the ones to beat.