Monday, May 22, 2017

Wide-open Indy 500 has many potential winners

The Indianapolis 500 will be run for the 101st time on May 28.  Mark Glover will be attending his 55th 500.

Picking the Indianapolis 500 winner is a thankless task.

There are too many variables that come up over 500 miles.  I’ve seen solid favorites swept out of the race, getting involved in heartbreaking shunts not of their making.  I’ve seen drivers luck into victory, but their likeness looks just as shiny on the Borg-Warner Trophy presented to the race winner.

What to make of this year?  Again, any one of a dozen or more could win it all.

Yes, in my mind, it’s likely that the winner will come out of the first three rows.  Unless he doesn’t.

The first nine starters are loaded with talent and are piloting swift rides.

You have to like 2008 champ and 2017 pole position winner Scott Dixon.  He routinely does well at Indianapolis, and he rarely makes a mistake.  And yet, with a couple of breaks here and there, he could have been a four-time winner as I write this.

He’s won only once.  That should tell you how difficult it is to make your way first to the checkered flag.

What is obvious to me is that Honda was holding a lot back before showing its cards at Indy over the past weekend.  Prior to May, the betting money was on the Chevrolet power plants, which seemed brimming with power … certainly more than the Hondas were showing.

So much for that wisdom.  Honda dominated the weekend speed charts, which means that defending champion Alexander Rossi, Marco Andretti and even perpetual hard-luck driver Takuma Sato could take the big prize.

It would not surprise me if Fernando Alonso, the two-time Formula One champion and 2017 Indy 500 rookie, won the race.  He has mad skills, has taken to the blindingly fast 2.5-mile oval like a champ and has a Honda engine at his back.

Dark horse: Watch out for Ryan Hunter-Reay in his Andretti Autosport Honda.  He starts 10th and by all rights should have been in the “fast nine” running for the pole.  Circumstances held him up there, but on race day, I see him hustling to the front in a hurry.  He’s very good on this track.

Among the Chevys, Indy veteran Ed Carpenter stands with Dixon as a logical co-favorite.  Carpenter is an oval master and an Indianapolis Motor Speedway genius. Bad breaks have denied him the Borg-Warner Trophy before.  Is it his time?  Could be.

For what it’s worth, I’m picking 2013 Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan to win it again this year.  Driving a fast Honda, Kanaan chose a different qualifying set-up from Dixon, and it cost him some speed.  In race trim, however, Kanaan is likely to be on equal footing with Dixon.

Like I said, it’s very hard to go against Dixon, but if it comes down to a 10-lap shootout between him and Kanaan at the end, I think Kanaan’s aggressive, go-for-broke driving style gives TK the edge.

More winner’s milk for Tony?  I’m betting on it.
A menu of Mark Glover’s AutoGlo car reviews can be seen on the Business page of The Sacramento Bee’s website

No comments:

Post a Comment