There’s a little race this Sunday that’s kind of important. I believe it’s called the Indianapolis 500. While it may have lost some luster over the years, the Indianapolis 500 is still arguably the biggest event in all of motorsports, and all of the eyes in the sports world will descend on Speedway, IN this weekend as the IZOD IndyCar Series embarks on the most important section of it’s schedule. Underdog and fan favorite Ed Carpenter captured the pole for the event this past weekend to much fanfare, and he will be joined by Andretti Autosport teammates Carlos Munoz and Marco Andretti on the front row. Bump Day also saw some drama, with veteran racer Katherine Legge bumping another veteran, Michel Jourdain Jr., for the last spot in the field. 33 cars will line up on Sunday with the same mission: to win the Indianapolis 500, and that is the only thing that will be on the minds of these drivers for the next four days.
Track Preview: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
It’s the most historic motorsports facility on Earth. With a uniquely rectangular shape laid out over 2.5 miles, Indianapolis is the perfect blend of speed and technical difficulty. Drivers will barrel off into the turns at over 230 miles per hour, and due to certain aero modifications on the DW12 machines, a strong draft will be present that will keep the front runners and most of the field in close proximity. The drivers who see success on Sunday will be the ones whose cars handle best in traffic and can hold the bottom with the most speed while passing others in Indianapolis’s infamously tight turns. Dario Franchitti was the master of such techniques last year, taking home the victory over teammate Scott Dixon. Both ought to be strong again this year.
What’s the Points (Driver Standings):
Surprise points leader Takuma Sato has a 13 point advantage over resurgent Marco Andretti heading into the weekend. Penske’s Helio Castroneves sits third in the standings, 20 points out of the lead. James Hinchcliffe sits 4th in the standings, while Ganassi driver Scott Dixon rounds out the top 5.
Featured Driver: Ed Carpenter
Here’s a bold statement: Ed Carpenter, yes, Ed Carpenter, may very well be the best oval racer in the IZOD IndyCar Series right now. An underdog for the duration of his career, Carpenter has developed a penchant for doing less with more, and his success on the series’ oval tracks in lesser equipment has been well-noted. After delivering a victory in last year’s season finale at Fontana, Carpenter put the series on notice that he has the chops to get it done on the series’ fastest tracks. He backed that performance up again this past weekend, shocking the world by sitting on the pole for the Indianapolis 500. Make no mistake, Carpenter will be a threat until the very last lap this Sunday, and unlike past years, he appears to finally have the equipment to match his oval racing prowess.
I decided to go with Ryan Hunter-Reay as my pick to win this week. Huston chose Marco Andretti, and Toni settled upon Ed Carpenter to round out the staff’s picks for the Indianapolis 500.
Any Other News:
Stay tuned on Friday afternoon for the Firestone Freedom 100, the premier Indy Lights Series race of the season. The race, which is a sort of undercard event to the Indianapolis 500, is incredibly exciting each and every year due to how much the draft plays a role in the underpowered and over-aerodynamic Indy Lights machines, and this year looks to be no different. Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver Sage Karam will start from the pole. That race will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network at 11 a.m. EST.
After Indianapolis, the next events on the schedule are the Chevrolet Indy Duals in Detroit. These races (which serve as a doubleheader weekend), will take place on Detroit’s Belle Isle street circuit and will be broadcast live on ABC at 3:30 PM EST June 1st and June 2nd.
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