The excitement around this year’s Greatest Spectacle in Racing can be felt around the Speedway. We are counting down the days to the 106th running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. The drivers are looking forward to seeing the grandstands full of spectators.
Although the wet weather has put a damper on some activities in the last week, the weather looks perfect for Saturday’s driver’s meeting and parade and the 500 mile race on Sunday.
Walking through Gasoline Alley this morning, I talked with a crew member from one of the teams. He said the team to beat this race day will be Chip Ganassi Racing. Interestingly enough, he mentioned it would not be because of the Honda engine they run compared to the Chevy engine, but due to pure speed.
He did not feel that his team’s cars would be able to match the quickness of the five Ganassi cars during the race. But he quickly added that anything could happen in the race, with yellows and pit stops. So do not count out their talented drivers.
Juan Pablo Montoya, the driver of the no 6 Arrow McLaren SP entry, offered his take on whom he thinks could win the 500. Happy with his car, he was first on his winner list. Then he named Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves, Alex Palou, Pato O’Ward, and Jimmie Johnson.
The two-time winner feels that these cars are harder to pass this year. The safety car packing up the field will give some drivers a chance to pass on the restart. And do not mess up your pit stops.
Will Power, driver of the no 12 Verizon Team Penske entry, is currently leading the championship points going into this double points race. He realizes winning the Indy 500 takes calculated passes and understanding the people you racing with.
“You rarely win the 500 by taking a huge risk. of making a pass. My day to win was a mistake-free day. I did not make any risky moves.”
“This is what I hate about double points. If you are running fifth or fourth and ten laps to go and the front cars are battling, you are not going to take a huge risk to lose double points and end up nowhere. I think that double points is a bad idea for this race. ”
Helio Castroneves, trying to win his fifth Indy 500 in the no 06 AutoNation/Sirius XM Meyer Shank Racing entry, admits that he and the team did not do a good job in qualifying. “We know that the car is actually good in traffic. We are lacking a little bit of speed, yes. But that does not make me afraid of not going for it. Because when we were testing , I was able to pass the fast cars. It might be a little bit difficult to hold it. I feel that we can do it.”
“Until the green flag drops Sunday, we are still the defending champion. And we have to execute like that. So just because we start in the back, we have to keep our motivation. This place pays off, if you take a risk or a gamble.”
Very different views from the drivers on how race day plays out.
The Miller Lite Card Day practice session has just started and will be checkered at 2 pm.
The pit stop challenge will be starting at 3:30 pm.
Lucille Dust reporting live from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway