INDIANAPOLIS – It’s hard to believe, but the week is here, it’s race week for the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 (11 a.m. ET/ABC/INDYCAR Radio Network). After six practice days for the big event, plus a weekend for qualifying, here are the five drivers that I have my eye on as favorites to sip the milk in victory lane at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday.
It’s cliché to pick the pole winner right? They’re quickest in qualifying so they must have the fastest car for the race too correct? Well, that’s not always the case. While the top starting spot has produced the most amount of Indy 500 winners (20) it hasn’t happened since 2009.
But, I have a feeling this year is different. Passing is harder. Chevrolet has a more power. This year’s pole winner knows this way around this track and has been very fast all month on race trim too. He drives a Chevy and has track position.
Carpenter, was fifth, second, eighth, fourth, 14th and 14th respectively in practice time this month. His No. 20 Chevrolet is fast and this could be the year that the hometown hero finally wins.
Only four times since 1988 has a part-time driver won the Indy 500. Well, I have two of my favorites list. You can’t overlook Castroneves this Sunday. He was in the top 10 in two race day practice sessions and qualified his No. 3 Chevrolet eighth. He’s desperately trying to join that elusive four win club and this could be the year.
Castroneves, finished second just last year and did so by just 0.2011-seconds. He was second again in 2014. He lost by 0.600-seconds. Combined, he’s lost two of the last four ‘500’s by a combined 0.8011-seconds.
He has a fast car and is close. I think he can get it done.
He’s never won at Indy, on the oval that is, but this is the year that ends. Power, has won the last two INDYCAR races on superspeedways and three of the last four. He’s widely considered a road course ace and rightfully so too, 19 of his first 20 series wins were on road/street courses. But, he’s since come into his own on ovals too. Three of his last five overall wins were on ovals and Power told me that he’s so comfortable on ovals now that he’d wish he could race on them every week.
He rolls off third on Sunday.
Need I say more?
He told me on Fast Friday that he was very confident in his chances this month. His No. 22 Chevrolet has been a rocketship. He said this is the best he’s felt here since 2015. While he’s never finished inside the top five in the ‘500, I think that comes to an end on Sunday.
Pagenaud, starts second in the race and says that his race pace has been incredible this month.
He could become the first Frenchman to win this race since 1920.
Can a former winner really be a sleeper? Well, when he’s not getting much attention this month, absolutely. Kanaan, was sixth in race practice last Wednesday and second on Thursday. During race week, he was second and first respectively in the two sessions. He also qualified his No. 14 Chevrolet 10th. That was because of rain messed up their setup in qualifying on Saturday. He had a car capable of being in the Fast Nine. He’s very confident and happy with his cars’ balance.
Plus, he has five top five finishes in his last seven Indy 500 starts.
The fan favorite can win on Sunday and no one is even talking about that.