Sunday, May 11, 2014

Preview: 98th Indianapolis 500

The time has come to race the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. Yes, we once again gather for the best two weeks of the year: The Indianapolis 500. The race, which will be run for the 98th time, has produced some absolutely spectacular moments recently. With no major changes to the bodies of the cars in 2014, we can expect a lot of the same that we had last year, which is good news for us fans. Time to sit back and enjoy the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500!

Here are some headlines heading into the Indianapolis 500:

Six Former Winners
Tony Kanaan, Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jacques Villeneuve, and Buddy Lazier make up the six previous winners of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. I think the most unique part about this is that both Jacques Villeneuve and Juan Pablo Montoya haven't raced in the Indy 500 since their win, meaning we technically have three defending winners of the race (add Tony Kanaan to this list).

Tony Kanaan - Indianapolis 500 Champions Portrait Session
Tony Kanaan is the most recent champion of the 500 mile race
(Photo: Chris Graythen / Getty Imgaes North America)

Seven Rookies
Mikhail Aleshin, Sage Karam, Jack Hawksworth, Carlos Huertas, Martin Plowman, James Davison, and Kurt Busch highlight the seven rookies in the field. Of these rookies, both Sage Karam and Kurt Busch make their first career Indycar starts. Karam won the 2013 Indy Lights Championship, but has been unable to find a ride.


Double Outlaw
Well, as for Kurt Busch, he is doing what few have ever attempted: The Indy 500 - Coca-Cola 600 Memorial Day Double. The full-time NASCAR driver for Stewart-Haas Racing began to work on an Indianapolis 500 deal dating back to last year. Will Busch back up all of the hype and media attention with a solid result, or will he squander his quality opportunity with Andretti Autosport?


Championship Battle
Although it is the Indianapolis 500 aka the Super Bowl of Indycar, we do have to keep in mind that there is a championship battle going on. A three driver battle is forming between Will Power, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Simon Pagenaud. A good result can bolster a championship effort, while a poor finish can set you back a ways.

Ryan Hunter-Reay and Simon Pagenaud - Grand Prix of Indianapolis
Pagenaud's recent win vaults him up with RHR and Power
(Photo: Nick Laham / Getty Images North America)

New Qualifying and Points Format
Speaking of the championship, a new points format is being used for the 2014 Indycar Triple Crown races. Double points will be awarded, putting higher stock in these races compared to the others. Massive point swings could be in the makings, as we could see a couple of drivers earning over 100 points. Also, a new qualifying format will put emphasis on both Bump Day, which is now on Saturday, and Pole Day, which is on Sunday. This is an attempt to enhance the experience for the viewer and the spectator.


Who Will Win?
There are so many drivers that can come out of this race with a win. It is almost impossible to predict who will finish where. The obvious names are Castronves, Dixon, Kanaan, Andretti, and Carpenter, but watch out for darkhorses like Wilson, Karam, Munoz, and Bell. Let me know who you think will win!


Here is the schedule for the Indianapolis 500 (all times eastern):

May 11th
Practice 1: 12:00 PM - 6:00 PM

May 12th
Practice 2: 12:00 PM - 6:00 PM

May 13th
Practice 3: 12:00 PM - 6:00 PM

May 14th
Practice 4: 12:00 PM - 6:00 PM

May 15th
Practice 5: 12:00 PM - 6:00 PM

May 16th
Practice 6: 12:00 PM - 6:00 PM

May 17th
Practice 7: 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM
Qualifying: 11:00 AM - 5:50 PM

May 18th
Practice 8: 12:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Qualifications - Pole Day: 10:15 AM - 2:45 PM

May 18th
Practice 9: 12:00 PM - 5:00 PM

May 23rd
Final practice: 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

May 25th
Race: 12:00 PM - 4:00 PM


Here are the Indycar Driver Standings heading into the Indianapolis 500:
1) Will Power - 149
2) Ryan Hunter-Reay - 148
3) Simon Pagenaud - 143
4) Helio Castroneves - 102
4) Scott Dixon - 102
6) Mike Conway - 93
7) Marco Andretti - 89
8) Justin Wilson - 87
9) Tony Kanaan - 82
10) Sebastien Bourdais - 81


Here's the top-ten finishers of the 2013 Indianapolis 500:
1) Tony Kanaan
2) Carlos Munoz
3) Ryan Hunter-Reay
4) Marco Andretti
5) Justin Wilson
6) Helio Castroneves
7) AJ Allmendinger
8) Simon Pagenaud
9) Charlie Kimball
10) Ed Carpenter


Here are the ten active Indycar drivers with the highest combined average finishing position in their careers at the Indianapolis 500, with the number of races they've started at the Indianapolis 500 in parenthesizes:
1) Juan Pablo Montoya - 1.0 (1)
2) Jacques Villeneuve - 1.5 (2)
3) Carlos Munoz - 2.0 (1)
4) Helio Castroneves - 7.5 (13)
5) Scott Dixon - 8.2 (11)
6) Charlie Kimball - 10.0 (3)
7) Tony Kanaan - 11.1 (12)
8) Oriol Servia - 11.6 (5)
9) Simon Pagenaud - 12.0 (2)
10) Marco Andretti - 12.4 (8)


Here are the past five pole sitters and their four lap average speed (in MPH) at the Indianapolis 500:
2013: Ed Carpenter - 228.762
2012: Ryan Briscoe - 226.484
2011: Alex Tagliani - 227.472
2010: Helio Castroneves - 227.970
2009: Helio Castroneves - 224.864


Lap Record at Indianapolis:
Arie Luyendyk, 239.260 MPH in 1996


Here are the five larges winless droughts among active drivers in the field (total number of starts since last win):
1) Alex Tagliani - 118
2) Graham Rahal - 99
3) Oriol Servia - 99
4) Buddy Lazier - 51
5) Marco Andretti - 46


And finally, here is the entry list for the 2014 Indianapolis 500:
#2 Juan Pablo Montoya / Team Penske / Chevrolet
#3 Helio Castroneves / Team Penske / Chevrolet
#5 Jacques Villeneuve / Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports / Honda
#6 Townsend Bell / KV Racing / Chevrolet
#7 Mikhail Aleshin [R] / Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports / Honda
#8 Ryan Briscoe / Chip Ganassi Racing / Chevrolet
#9 Scott Dixon / Chip Ganassi Racing / Chevrolet
#10 Tony Kanaan / Chip Ganassi Racing / Chevrolet
#11 Sebastien Bourdais / KV Racing / Chevrolet
#12 Will Power / Team Penske / Chevrolet
#14 Takuma Sato / AJ Foyt Enterprises / Honda
#15 Graham Rahal / Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing / Honda
#16 Oriol Servia / Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing / Honda
#17 Sebastian Saavedra / KV Racing / Chevrolet
#18 Carlos Huertas / Dale Coyne Racing / Honda
#19 Justin Wilson / Dale Coyne Racing / Honda
#20 Ed Carpenter / Ed Carpenter Racing / Chevrolet
#21 JR Hildebrand / Ed Carpenter Racing / Chevrolet
#22 Sage Karam [R] / Dreyer & Reinbold Kingdom Racing / Chevrolet
#25 Marco Andretti / Andretti Autosport / Honda
#26 Kurt Busch [R] / Andretti Autosport / Honda
#27 James Hinchcliffe / Andretti Autosport / Honda*
#28 Ryan Hunter-Reay / Andretti Autosport / Honda
#33 James Davison [R] / KV Racing / Chevrolet
#34 Carlos Munoz [R] / Andretti Autosport / Honda
#41 Martin Plowman [R] / AJ Foyt Enterprises / Honda
#63 Pippa Mann / Dale Coyne Racing / Honda
#67 Josef Newgarden / Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing / Honda
#68 Alex Tagliani / Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing / Honda
#77 Simon Pagenaud / Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports / Honda
#83 Charlie Kimball / Chip Ganassi Racing / Honda
#91 Buddy Lazier / Lazier Partners Racing / Chevrolet
#98 Jack Hawksworth [R] / Bryan Herta Autosport / Honda

*denotes that EJ Viso will be filling in for Hinchcliffe until Hinch is cleared to race. If he is not cleared, then Viso will race in his stead.

Let's go!!

-Matthew Hickey

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