The 105th Indianapolis 500 will be held with fans in the stands this Sunday, but will be limited to 40% capacity at around 135,000 spectators … which would still be the largest outdoor sporting event since COVID-19. The Memorial Day weekend tradition is full of interesting storylines to give us some potential insight on who will drink the customary milk in victory lane and get his or her face on the Borg-Warner Trophy.
Here are my Indy 500 storylines to watch and best value plays:
Last August, Honda responded with a vengeance in terms of speed. The entire “Fast 9” shootout for the pole was made up of cars powered by Honda engines and Honda made up 11 of the top 12 spots for the starting grid. Honda also had eight of the Top 10 finishers in last year's 500 including the top four. This year it has been more of the same as Chevrolet, while not swept out of the "Fast 9", only had two driver/car combinations (Ed Carpenter and Rinus VeeKay) that were able to make a run for the pole. This past Sunday's qualifying practice allowed teams to go into race trim and Honda still has eight of the Top 10 spots on the speed chart. Can Chevrolet find some speed on Carb Day this Friday?
The Iceman Cometh
Scott Dixon (4-1) won his fourth career pole at Indianapolis last Sunday and only trails A.J. Foyt (67) and Mario Andretti (52) in all-time IndyCar victories. Known as "The Iceman", Dixon picked up his 51st victory last month at Texas. The defending IndyCar Series champion (six titles, just one behind Foyt) also leads the points for the current 2021 season. Perhaps his one blemish is a lone Indy 500 triumph way back in 2008. The man from New Zealand topped the speed charts in two of the four practice sessions before he once again took the pole position. He is clearly the best open-wheel driver of this generation but wants desperately to add another Borg-Warner Trophy to his mantle. Last year's runner-up finish (leading 111 of the 200 laps) was the third time he finished second in his career at the Brickyard. No driver is more intelligent in terms of maintaining that balance of being a driver and a racer. It also helps that he is the best fuel-saver on the grid and arguably has the best race strategist in the paddock with Chip Ganassi Racing Managing Director Mike Hull.
Penske Lacking Power