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Featured The 100th Indianapolis 500

Discussion in 'IndyCar' started by R.J. O'Connell, May 25, 2016.

  1. indy 500 header.jpg
    The Indianapolis 500 is always a special race. This one, though, is more special.

    It's race that's endured for over 100 years. It's survived two World Wars, it's been disputed over two different nasty chasms in American open-wheel racing, and every decade, the cars that compete there have changed and evolved so drastically, it would be a reflection of the automobile itself. Through all of this, the Indianapolis 500 has endured to see its one hundreth iteration - run longer than the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Monaco Grand Prix, or any other single major race.

    The 500 mile race is where ordinary people become extraordinary, and where the extraordinary ascend to racing immortality. Chances are, if you've ever watched an Indianapolis 500 in your lifetime, you have a favorite moment. A performance you'll never forget. A finish you'll tell future generations about for years to come. There's also a good chance that it may be the only Indycar race most people watch. If they choose only one, there's a good chance they've picked a good one.

    Now, more than ever, the 33 remarkable human elements that make up this field for the 100th Indianapolis 500 are the stars of the show. And one should look no further than the front row for one of the best stories - not just in the Indycar campaign, but in all of racing this season.

    ROW 1
    5 - James Hinchcliffe / 21 - Josef Newgarden / 28 - Ryan Hunter-Reay
    One year and a week ago, we came far closer to losing James Hinchcliffe than anyone knew at the time. This Sunday, Hinchcliffe will lead the field to green for the very first time in his six-year Indycar career. In the 100th Indianapolis 500. After a white-knuckle run for pole position saw him secure P1 with a four-lap average of 230.760 miles per hour, The Mayor of Hinchtown is ready to write the unbelievable final chapter of one of racing's greatest comeback stories.

    The perceived struggles of Honda's Indycar programme have been muted, with two Honda-powered machines on the front row - Hinchcliffe on the inside, and 2014 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay (who's been the top oval racer since late last season) on the outside. They flank Hendersonville, Tennessee's Josef Newgarden in the middle of the row. Like Hinchcliffe, Newgarden is one of Indycar's most engaging, entertaining, and colourful personalities. And a win for the 26-year-old will all but cement him as the new American superstar in Indycar.

    ROW 2
    29 - Townsend Bell / 26 - Carlos Muñoz / 12 - Will Power
    Will Power has won just about every big race in his stellar American open-wheel career. He has yet to win the Indianapolis 500, though. How galling was it to finish just one-tenth of a second short of that first Indy win in 2015? Power has been Roger Penske's top man for the better part of five years now, and the 2014 Indycar Series champion knows that he can, and he must, win this race to solidify his place among the greats.

    Perhaps the best story in this row is on the inside; that of 40-year-old Indy specialist and TV announcer Townsend Bell. Fifteen years after becoming the Indy Lights champion, Bell's whirlwind career in motorsport - from being reckless to the point of unemployability as a CART rookie in 2002, to being one of the safest pair of hands at Indy every year today - could culminate in a stunning victory. He'll likely have to go through his Andretti teammate Muñoz to get it. The Colombian already has two top-5 finishes at Indy, and nearly won it as a rookie in 2013.

    ROW 3
    7 - Mikhail Aleshin / 22 - Simon Pagenaud / 3 - Hélio Castroneves
    A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears, and Al Unser are the only three men in history to win the Indy 500 four times. Hélio Castroneves has been chomping at the bit to join that elusive club now for several years. Two years ago, Hunter-Reay denied the effervescent Brazilian his fourth Indy victory by just 0.06 seconds. It will not come easy for him to win it this year, though - this third row also features the hottest driver in IndyCar right now, Simon Pagenaud.

    A hat trick of wins at Long Beach, Barber, and the Indy road course give Pagenaud an overwhelming championship lead, and last year, he was the fastest driver for most of the race before a late incident relegated him to an unrepresentative tenth. The scarved wheelman from Poitiers might be the odds-on favorite to win this 100th running. They're joined by Aleshin, a teammate to the polesitter who showed similar resilience to bounce back from injuries two years ago, losing his ride last year, and has now shaken off the "mediocre pay-driver" label and emerged as a genuine hard-charger in this field.

    ROW 4
    77 - Oriol Sérvia / 98 - Alexander Rossi (R) / 14 - Takuma Sato
    Alexander Rossi, the last American to race in Formula 1, arguably could have been fighting for pole position. But even still, as the fastest rookie in the field, the Nevada City, California native is keen to bounce back from a slow start to his first Indycar campaign with a huge win in the 500 - one that would turn Manor Racing's decision to drop him from their 2016 F1 team from slightly questionable to outright ludicrous.

    He has seventeenth-year Indycar veteran Oriol Sérvia on his inside, and outside, Takuma Sato - so very nearly the hero in 2012, and still seeking his redemption in what could be his last chance to win it for car owner AJ Foyt. Last year, Sato's race didn't even get to the backstretch on lap one.

    ROW 5
    9 - Scott Dixon / 27 - Marco Andretti / 6 - J.R. Hildebrand
    Defending series champion and 2008 Indy winner Dixon heads this fifth row as a serious contender to win. Lucky for the sterling Kiwi - last year's winner emerged from this row. Marco Andretti was just 19 when he came just a nose short of winning in his very first Indy 500 start in 2006. Ten years later, Marco is one of the speedway's most consistent performers who's yet to win the race - and the mythical "Andretti curse" still looms over his head, forty-five years after his grandfather Mario's only victory.

    Since losing it in the most heartbreaking fashion five years ago, Hildebrand's career has spiraled downward a bit. These days, he's relegated to an Indy specialist - but J.R. Hildebrand has made the most of his limited opportunities, scoring two top-tens in the last two seasons driving for Ed Carpenter Racing.

    ROW 6
    42 - Charlie Kimball / 2 - Juan Pablo Montoya / 10 - Tony Kanaan
    The reigning, defending, undisputed, two-time champion of the Brickyard, Montoya could add another Indy crown - his third in four entries - this year and ascend further into the ranks of the all-time greats. Just like he did last year, starting from the middle rows. Don't discount Kimball on the inside of this sixth row - he finished third last year, and always seems to surprise.

    Tony Kanaan's emotional 2013 victory - his first in twelve tries to that point - will hardly be forgotten. In the twilight of his legendary career, Kanaan is one of Indy's finest competitors, year after year. He had a chance to win it last year until a crash ended his hopes, and in his fifteenth Indy 500, TK isn't done creating magical moments at the speedway.

    ROW 7
    11 - Sebastien Bourdais / 20 - Ed Carpenter / 19 - Gabby Chaves
    It's hard to believe that last year's Indy 500 and Indycar Series Rookie of the Year, Chaves, didn't get a chance to race again until this May. He's made the most of his sudden chance with Dale Coyne Racing. The sophomore lines up next to two hungry veterans, Bourdais and Carpenter.

    Bourdais, the man who dominated the final years of Champ Car and defeated many of Indycar's current top stars along the way, is still missing the Indy 500 win that would cement his place among the legends that he so richly deserves. Owner/driver Carpenter has Indy in his blood, and the two-time polesitter has turned the corner from underwhelming field filler to legitimate oval track star late in his career.

    ROW 8
    8 - Max Chilton (R) / 24 - Sage Karam / 18 - Conor Daly
    The middle of row eight features a driver who's waited nine months for a chance at Indycar redemption. Sage Karam, still the youngest driver in this field in his third entry, admitted that the tragic death of Justin Wilson last August was unfathomably hard to get over. Brazen and aggressive as a driver, the wrestler-turned-racer Karam (9th as a rookie in 2014) is now a sentimental favorite.

    His Ganassi Racing successor Max Chilton is on the inside of the row, and with the guidance of mentor Dario Franchitti, Chilton is ready to turn the corner in his star-crossed racing career. Daly, a series rookie but a three-time Indy veteran, will hope to take the start after blowing an engine on the parade laps - and go to the front in the most American liveried car on the grid.

    ROW 9
    63 - Pippa Mann / 15 - Graham Rahal / 61 - Matthew Brabham (R)
    For Rahal and rookie Brabham, their races are about extending their families great racing legacies. Graham Rahal's father won this race in 1986, thirty years ago - and since last year, he's reawakened as a genuine top talent in the series after years of struggles. Matt Brabham didn't even race for most of 2015, but the grandson of former World Champion and 500 winner Sir Jack is ready for his chance to add his name to the family legacy.

    For Pippa Mann, she races as the sole woman in this field, carrying the hopes of every young girl who one day aspires to race with her. Historically, the 500 hasn't been kind to Pippa, with a best finish of 20th. But now, more than ever, she's motivated to change her fortune.

    ROW 10
    88 - Bryan Clauson / 16 - Spencer Pigot (R) / 25 - Stefan Wilson (R)
    In this tenth row, sits Clauson, the last of the "throwbacks" - a short-oval specialist whose only Indycar race in his 200-race calendar is the 500. 61 laps is the farthest this USAC champion has ever run in the 500. There's also Pigot, the reigning Indy Lights champion who's a Mazda Road to Indy scholar and a potential star of the future in a second Rahal Letterman Lanigan car.

    Then there's Stefan Wilson (pictured above), carrying the number that his late brother drove last season, to his very first Indy 500 start and only his second career Indycar race. Years of struggling just to find opportunities to race anywhere in the world could come to an end if the 26-year-old from Sheffield does well at Indy.

    ROW 11
    41 - Jack Hawksworth / 4 - Buddy Lazier / 35 - Alex Tagliani
    Tagliani made history, for better or worse, as the first Indy 500 qualifier to not post an official qualifying speed after wrecking on his only attempt on Sunday. A far cry from his 2011 pole position for the Canadian veteran.

    He's on the back row with the 1996 winner Buddy Lazier - the last relic from the early years of The Split, and twenty years on from when he won the race with a broken back. Trouble is, Lazier has yet to show that his best years are behind him. Hawksworth has struggled since his rookie season, and ovals are his weakest suit - it could be another tough day at the Brickyard for the young man from West Yorkshire.

    Thirty-three incredible people will race for the honour of becoming the champion of the 100th Indianapolis 500. It is a distinction that will belong to only one of them, and it will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Who will cross the fabled yard of bricks as the centennial Indy 500 champion?

    Be sure to discuss the race in the comments below, and for more Indycar Series discussion, head to our Indycar sub-forum.

    Image Credit: Indycar
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  2. BoogerMac

    Premium Member

    Has Chevy been sand-bagging the whole time leading up to Indy? Or are the Hondas really ready to make their mark this season?

    Those are the questions I'm waiting to find out answers to.
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  3. fortyfivekev

    Premium Member

    Looking forward to this and hoping for a safe race for all. It's going to be a long weekend with Indy, N24 and the Monaco GP. Lucky it's a holiday in the UK on Monday.
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  4. Andrew Harper

    Andrew Harper
    Premium Member

    This will be a great weekend for motorsport in general and I'm looking forward to seeing the race.

    I did want to go this year (as I've been trying to get to the Indy 500 for a while) but with the British GP as well it was just too much cost in one year.

    I can't afford the subscription rates BT Sport want (shame they don't do an opt out style subscription rather than 12 months minimum) so I'm using another way to try and watch the race. Best of luck to Hinchcliffe and all the rest of the drivers this weekend for a safe race.

    I think my favourite though will probably be the N24, another one I'd like to attend at least once. I seem to remember there was a YouTube feed of the race a few years back (although it was in German so I used Radio Le Mans for the voice bit!)
  5. Everyday that creeps closer to the 500 is more agonizing than the last. The month of May in Indiana is always special.
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  6. Honestly I don't think so. I was out at practice the Friday before the time trials and there was a decent split between Chevy and Honda. If you're sandbagging the day before you're qualifying runs you either have something magic or you're just that much better. If there was any place for Chevy to try and show that dominance they had last year it would be Indy.
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  7. These have got to be the ugliest Indycars ever, they don't even look like a Indycar anymore with that awful block hanging off the back now, yes, I know it's a bumper, but they could have made it smaller, or at least a little more stylish, aerodynamic maybe ?
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  8. Andrew Harper

    Andrew Harper
    Premium Member

    Something that I'd like to ask about qualifying and the race. I assume that parc ferme exists?

    I ask as some of the fastest cars in the top 9 shootout (and cars in the other qualifying group) were using all their gears to reach top speed. Whereas some others were running the traditional one or two top gears (so they didn't always use 6th), which in theory would help them much more in the race. Draft racing, saving fuel, etc.

    Assuming that they are not allowed to change the car after qualifying (except repairs) wouldn't this hinder them come the race? Depends on whether you can stay out front I guess :)
  9. Andrew Harper

    Andrew Harper
    Premium Member

    I liked the original version of the Dallara DW12, it was a good balance between function and form.

    I will admit though I'm not a lover of the new style aero kits, ok I can see what Indycar were trying to do by allowing the cars to look different from one another. When I originally read the proposal I thought it would be front and rear wings but was shocked when I saw the road course kit with more wings than I thought possible.

    From purely a personal point of view I don't like the newer cars because of the safety aspect, more pieces to fly off at other cars and into the crowd and the huge increase in downforce made the cars much faster than before. Very fast cars and concrete barriers on street circuits don't always go well together.
  10. Actually no part ferme is in place. Time trials happen a week before the race. After trials are done there are a few more days of practice for the proper race set up. Going into the race with their qualifying set up will cause massive push in corners and thus crashes. All qualifying trims have super low downforce to the point that this year without a draft Hinchcliff was going into turn 1 at 238-9. In race set up it'll probably be around 230(without a toe) give or take.
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  11. The cars are faster than they've been for years, but they're not nearly as fast as they were back in the glory days of C.A.R.T. They're about as safe as it's possible to make them.
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  12. 4 8 15 16 23 42 108

    4 8 15 16 23 42 108
    Only the 5th-most famous race driver from Kerpen Premium Member

    Of which year is the lap record in indy?
  13. Excellent format for a preview.

    Like many others, I'm mostly just hoping the Honda's really are in the same class as Chevy this race so we can have more contenders at the front. It seems likely, since Honda has had the traditional view of Indy 500 > season championship.

    So much (perhaps too much) racing going on this weekend. Indy, Monaco, Charlotte, Nurburgring 24 (which is having qualifying right now).
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  14. Andrew Harper

    Andrew Harper
    Premium Member

    236.103mph Eddie Cheever in 1996. Remember that's average!

    I think that was the limit and when that happened they tried to control the speeds a little more. It was a Meynard team special which they were well known for.
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  15. The actual lap record is 237.498 held by Arie Luyendyk. That is single lap speed though.
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  16. Andrew Harper

    Andrew Harper
    Premium Member

    Fair enough, I just got the info of a circuit guide.

    It was a bit unclear depending on lap records in race, practise, qualifying, etc. but fast is fast and that's fast!:roflmao:
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  17. Lap records are irrelevant anymore. They have these cars so detuned from what they easily could run in effort to drive the speeds down it's silly to compare. While this isn't the first time they've attempted to slow cars, with the DW12 they've really done a number to keep the speeds in control. In the mid 90s and before at IMS they fought the rulebook for speed, now the rulebook dictates the speed.

    Consider the fact the pole is near 231 average - now plug the holes poked in the floor due to aero kit loads on high downforce tracks which don't pertain to Indy, let them run the strakes in the underwing, goodbye domed skid, run road course boost if not the full ~800 HP push to pass road course boost (RC boost is as big of a jump as the one from 500 race to 500 Qualifying over Q boost), and then factor in 20 years of tire technology and improvements. It would not be difficult even when sticking with what is known the cars and engines can do.

    Anyways, had qualifying not gone down as it did last year and had they have had full confidence and "in the field" test data on the domed skid and beam flaps working, they likely would have turned the wick up to get that record as was the goal a few years ago.


    I can't wait for the 500 though, this year is going to be awesome. For some reason it feels like this is the year we'll hopefully "bury the baggage" us North American Open Wheel fans have been carrying since 94/95/96 (however you look at it). I'm hopeful at least.
    Last edited: May 27, 2016
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  18. 4 8 15 16 23 42 108

    4 8 15 16 23 42 108
    Only the 5th-most famous race driver from Kerpen Premium Member

    If you are interested in history, these two Youtube videos could be for you:
    Classic Races - The Indy 500
    AJ Foit - Indy 500: A Race for Heroes
  19. Andrew Harper

    Andrew Harper
    Premium Member

    @Matt Orr interesting reading mate.

    Being in Europe I tend to miss all the fine detail (and it not being broadcast on Eurosport anymore doesn't help).
  20. fortyfivekev

    Premium Member

    Unfortunately, the UK media is so F1 oriented now that most people wont even know it is Indy this weekend, let alone the 100th running. Plus the few F1 drivers that have any interest in racing beyond their own formula talk about doing Le Mans now rather than Indy. It would take Lewis Hamilton racing over there to turn that around and he is more interested in hanging-out with US celebs rather than racing drivers. :(

    If you have BT Internet then BT Sport is cheap/free but if not then you are basically paying for a crapload of football with some occassional racing (Indycars/V8 Supercars/Euro F3) thrown on top.
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