The first line
Hard to distinguish especially a driver between poleman Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing), Alex Palou (Chip Ganassi Racing) and Rinus VeeKay (Ed Carpenter Racing). All three have shoulders as solid as the bricks set at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway finish line when it comes to their ability to be declared the overall winner.
Dixon has only won once (in 2008) but has five poles. Quite isolationist in relation to the world of motorsport, the Americans called him “Ice Man” without knowing that this nickname was already used by Kimi Räikkönen in Formula 1. But their calm and their “killer” instinct are sometimes identical!
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Alex Palou bit his lip until he bled in his cockpit at the end of the Indianapolis 500 Miles in 2021. The Spaniard failed to finish in second place after a masterful overhaul from Hélio Castroneves with two laps left. To lose on Indy, he knows; 2021 The IndyCar champion analyzed the Brazilian’s performance to find out where he lost and what he could do to improve.
The author of the fastest lap since 1996 by Indy, Rinus VeeKay has a car tuned to small bulbs of the modest structure founded by Ed Carpenter (4th, he must see). The Dutchman is relatively inexperienced (3rd start), but already led 32 laps in 2021 (8th).
Takuma Sato (Dale Coyne Racing)
Pato O’Ward asked him for his TikTok account to choose from “lift your foot” and “get flat”. Guess what Takuma Sato answered? The Japanese did not win the Indianapolis 500 twice (2017, 19) at random.
His starting position (10th) does not reflect his ease on the 4,023 km long course. Free practice allowed him to show off all his qualities before making a mistake in the settings of his Dallara during qualifying. “We can not wait to fight, the car is doing very well in traffic”, said Sato-san. Expect him to line up, he should not stay in 10th place for a long time.
Simon Pagenaud (Meyer Shank Racing)
His victory in 2019 came into the Pantheon for French sports. Three years later, the three-colored expatriate starts from 16th place. No worries, he finished in third place by starting as number 22 in 2021!
“There’s no more stress about whether or not I’ll ever enter my name in the Indy 500, Simon Pagenaud explained to us earlier this week. This stress is awful. It’s negative, it does not push you up on the board, but makes you make mistakes. It’s very cool, because now I can just concentrate on the work. If I did it once, I can do it again. » Should we add something?
The big odds
Helio Castroneves (Meyer Shank Racing)
The four-time Indy 500 winner dreams of eternal glory. In the land of self-created men, the fate of the 47-year-old Brazilian is nurtured by the Indianapolis audience, who have made him their ambassador in recent weeks. During the autograph session, his queue was the largest of the party, including in front of Jimmie Johnson!
A fifth success would be synonymous with a record for Hélio Castroneves. But he will have a lot to do after a failed qualification (27th). In 2021, he had won starting from eighth place, which made it easier for him. But the former winner of Dance with the Stars has more than one trick up his sleeve, weighed down by 21 Indy 500. If he wins this Sunday, it would be one of the most memorable days in the history of the race, born in 1911.
Juan Pablo Montoya (Arrow McLaren SP)
Despite his advanced age for a professional driver (46), the winner of seven Formula 1 Grands Prix does not have a huge experience on the masonry: 2022 will be synonymous with his seventh start on the Indy 500. But Juan Pablo Montoya, like Hélio Castroneves , is an old monkey who can not be taught to grimace!
His disappointing qualification (30th) was offset by promising free practice on Friday during Carb Day. “We have a good car. I do not say that often, so I mean it very sincerely.”
Juan Pablo Montoya has already won the Indianapolis 500 twice, in 2000 with Chip Ganassi Racing and in 2015 with Team Penske. His driving skills remain almost unmatched on oval. In fact, his car will be effective if we take into account the placement of his teammates Pato O’Ward and Félix Rosenqvist in the third row.
Jimmie Johnson (Chip Ganassi Racing)
Strongly criticized for his slowness on the road and in city circuits, Jimmie Johnson was more of a laughing stock than anything else until he decided to drive on ovals in IndyCar. The seven-time Nascar champion has recorded more laps on ovals than anyone else on the starting grid!
Sixth in Texas last March, the 46-year-old veteran silenced the gossip about his expiration date. There are no limits to consuming a good wine! In addition, Jimmie Johnson develops into a stable that has perfect settings for this 106th edition (all the cars in Fast 12). His starting position is more than respectable (12th) for a rookie on the Indy 500. If he sprays milk, believe us the Americans will be just as galvanized as the French in 1998!
His qualification was unique to a rookie who timidly avoided any outing on an oval when he arrived in the United States in 2021. Ranked in ninth place, the man with 10 podiums in F1 had the luxury of getting ahead of all his teammates. Andretti team, although they are far more experienced in this field.
Romain Grosjean has never ridden so long in a race without interruptions (2h40 to 3h race on Indy). This can be detrimental to him in hot moments where clarity will be crucial to thinking about fuel management, avoiding accidents or listening to his spotter while driving at 350km / h. But in terms of speed, the Frenchman has already established himself as a customer of hell.
We do not believe in that
We do not see them anymore! Dominant at the start of the season as well as at the Texas Oval (doubled by Newgarden-McLaughlin), the three men hired by Roger Penske went through the Indianapolis trials as ghosts. We hardly exaggerate: Will Power, leader of the championship and winner of the 500 Miles of Indianapolis in 2018, starts 11th, Josef Newgarden (champion in 107 and 222) becomes 14th and Scott McLaughlin due to a poor qualifying bet (he would improve his time as the track conditions had gotten worse) was rejected in 26th place.
The “Captain” Penske squad never seemed threatening to Chip Ganassi Racing or Ed Carpenter Racing. Sunday’s weather conditions will not favor overtaking due to strong gusts and higher temperatures than before. It will take an exemplary refueling sequence as well as several accidents to move up in the hierarchy. In short, it will be necessary to be lucky, whereas a triumph in Indy is not only based on this aspect.
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