Today’s hour-long practice session during Carb Day was both fast and furious. The pit stop competition was won by Scott Dixon’s crew, beating Sage Karam’s team in the finals. Dixon was second quick in the final practice, behind his teammate and defending race winner, Tony Kanaan. Now that the day’s events have concluded, the cars will rest in Gasoline Alley until the big race on Sunday. All of the work and preparation has been done. The past month has been incredibly busy, and extremely productive. There have been late nights, close calls, minor setbacks, and major adjustments. Now, quite simply, it’s time to race.
Ed Carpenter will lead the field of 33 cars to the green flag for the second consecutive year, after his four-lap average speed of 231.067 mph last Sunday. James Hinchcliffe and current Verizon IndyCar points leader Will Power will join him on the front row. Just how talented is this year’s field? Seven drivers in this year’s race have won a championship in either IndyCar or Champ Car, and 20 of them have won a race in those series.
It’s fair to say there is no clear cut favorite this year. The field is oozing with talent, and the series has never been more competitive from top to bottom. Row 2 features two fan favorites, with a three-time winner, and an Andretti. Squeezed between them is rising star and GP of Indy winner Simon Pagenaud. Row 3 has the runner-up from last year (Munoz), as well as two young and hungry drivers in Josef Newgarden and JR Hildebrand.
Row 4 is strong, and filled with storylines. Juan Montoya makes his return to Indy in an open wheel car with Roger Penske after winning the race in 2000 with Chip Ganassi. Scott Dixon is the defending series champion, and is also looking to grab is second glass of milk. On the outside, is The Outlaw. NASCAR Cup champion Kurt Busch aims to make history on Sunday, driving for Michael Andretti’s team in his first open wheel race.
Other drivers are going to have to make a charge from further back in the field. This is nothing new to Kanaan, who will roll off in 16th position. He won last year’s race after starting in 12th spot. 2012 series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay will be one row behind the Brazilian in 19th, the worst of the five Andretti Autosport cars. Beside him will be Graham Rahal in 20th, and Ryan Briscoe has the 30th starting position.
There are six former Indy 500 winners in this year’s field; Kanaan, Castroneves, Dixon, Montoya, Buddy Lazier, and Jacques Villeneuve. There are also seven Rookies in the race; Busch, James Davison, Jack Hawksworth, Carlos Huertos, Sage Karam, Mikhail Aleshin, and Martin Plowman. Only two Rookies have won the race since 1967. Montoya in 2000, then Castroneves in 2001. Kanaan will aim to become just the sixth driver to win the Greatest Spectacle in Racing two years in a row.
If you aren’t able to attend Sunday’s Indianapolis 500, you can watch on ABC beginning at 11 AM ET. This will be the 50th straight year that ABC has televised the race.
The IMS gates will open to the public at 5:30 on Sunday morning. Cars will grid on the track at 10:15, and Driver Introductions begin at 11:33. The traditional ceremonies will begin, where Jim Nabors will sing Back Home Again in Indiana for the final time. The green flag will waive at 12:12, and the race to 500 miles will be on. A cold glass of milk, the Borg Warner trophy, and immortality await the winner in Victory Lane.
Below is a video recap of Carb Day, courtesy of IndyCar.