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IndyCar Preview: 2022 Indianapolis 500

Ladies and gentlemen, the time has come. The Indianapolis 500 is here!

Thirty-three drivers will battle for a chance to cement their name in the record books.

Coverage of the race begins at 11 a.m. ET on NBC, with the green flag expected to fly at 12:45 p.m. ET.

Who will be the driver that raises the milk and dons the wreath?

Penske, Chevy on fire to start 2022

Chevrolet has been a dominant force this season, as Team Penske scoring victories in three of the first five races. Scott McLaughlin won the season opener on the Streets of St. Petersburg and two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden won back-to-back events at Texas Motor Speedway and the Streets of Long Beach. Furthermore, 2014 series champion Will Power leads the series standings.

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50-Word Previews for the 2022 Indianapolis 500

Coming into the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, no team owner has more Indy 500 victories wins than Roger Penske. With 18 wins, no other owner is even close at touching that number.

It could be a difficult task for Penske to reach a record-extending 19th win, though. Power, who won the 500 in 2018, starts 11th. Newgarden has the most wins among active drivers (22). However, he has yet to win the 500. He starts 14th.

McLaughlin will start 26th, alongside GMR Grand Prix winner Colton Herta and four-time Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves.

Ganassi momentum

2008 Indy 500 winner Scott Dixon starts on the pole for the big race for the fifth time. Reigning series champion Alex Palou, last year’s Indy 500 runner-up, will start right beside him.

Chip Ganassi Racing has three other drivers who had strong qualifying runs: Marcus Ericsson (fifth), Tony Kanaan (sixth) and seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson (12th), who makes his much-anticipated Indy 500 debut.

Dixon is looking to make history in multiple ways on Sunday. He has 51 career IndyCar victories, and one more will tie him with the legendary Mario Andretti on the all-time win list. And of course, another Indy 500 victory never hurt anyone.

Can Castroneves get five?

47-year-old Castroneves was the upset winner a year ago and earned a record-tying fourth Indy 500 win. A win would propel him in a four-way tie with AJ Foyt, Rick Mears and Al Unser Sr. for sole possession of the throne.

Castroneves will shoot for a fifth Borg-Warner Trophy from 27th, but who is silly enough to count him out?

Juan Pablo Montoya, a two-time Indy 500 winner (2000, 2015), will start 30th. He returns for the marquee event for the second year in a row with McLaren in a part-time entry.

Rookie Report

Alexander Rossi was the last rookie to win the Indianapolis 500 in 2016. But Rossi was no rookie in the open-wheel world, as he previously raced in Formula 1 prior to taking his talents to IndyCar.

Romain Grosjean (ninth) and Johnson were both in IndyCar a year ago but did not race in the big event.

Johnson, who won at the Yard of Bricks four times in NASCAR’s Brickyard 400, had the biggest save of the week during qualifying.

Not too shabby for a rookie.

Herta goes for the sweep

Herta is coming off of a race win on the Indy road course earlier this month, but the oval is a different beast, as exemplified during final practice. The 22-year-old from Santa Clarita, Calif., got loose and smacked the turn 2 wall before the car flipped onto its roof.

Thankfully, Herta was uninjured and has been medically cleared to race in the 500. His Andretti Autosport team has prepared a backup car and will be allowed to retain its qualifying position of 25th. Only one driver has won the 500 from 25th, Johnny Rutherford, in 1974, and only two drivers have taken the victory from 20th or worse since then.

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Colton Herta Crashes Heavily in Carb Day Practice

O’Ward happiness

Pato O’Ward has finished sixth and fourth in his two Indianapolis 500 appearances. On Friday, May 27, it was announced he had signed an extension with Arrow McLaren SP through 2025. What could be better to follow up the tremendous news with his first 500 victory?

“Man, it sucks to be at war within your own team, right?” O’Ward said after winning earlier this year at Barber Motorsports Park. “I’m glad there has been very positive talks for the future, and man, I wanted to do it for these guys; I wanted to do it for Arrow McLaren SP, Team Chevy.

“They’ve swept this year so far, so I think it’s great for them. I was tired of [finishing] 10th and 11th and fifth. So I said, ‘Let’s get a win under our belts so we can claw our way back into this championship fight.’”

Now O’Ward finds himself as a potential spoiler for the most significant race of the year.

My Pick

Not exactly going out on a limb here, but we could have a historic win on our hands. Dixon is my choice to win this year’s Indianapolis 500.

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