My Picks For The 103rd Running Of The Indianapolis 500

Conor Daly and Alexander Rossi - Indianapolis Motor Speedway. © [Peter Mining/ Spacesuit Media]

Conor Daly and Alexander Rossi – Indianapolis Motor Speedway. © [Peter Mining/ Spacesuit Media]

Indianapolis – It seems like everyone in the field has a great shot at winning the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. Some drivers may rise above the field and some will fall a bit below when you are looking at their chances, but overall you could make an argument for most to have a shot at drinking milk in victory lane.


There are the obvious picks, and I’ll start with Alexander Rossi. If I’m forced to make a decision on one guy, I would say Rossi. This will be his fourth running of the race and after winning his rookie year he finished 7th in 2017 and the 4th last year. Rossi has been fast throughout the month and just seems to be getting better and better at the Speedway. Rossi is the easy and probably safest pick.
Scott Dixon is the next driver on the list. The five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion has raced in the Indy 500 16 times. He won in 2008, finished in the top five seven times, has an average finish of 10th and finished third last year. Dixon will be in the mix and far from a surprise if he ends up in victory lane.

Watch out for the quiet guys

Not much has been said about these guys leading up to the race, but they could make some big noise on raceday. Josef Newgarden, the defending series champion, has not been attracting much attention but, like he has all season, is a driver that will just be there. He hasn’t been slow by any means during practice, but he just hasn’t stood out from the crowd. Add his teammate, defending race winner Will Power, to the list and Team Penske might just dominate this race on Sunday. We will talk about the other two teammates in a bit.

Another powerhouse team has a sneaky fast driver as well. Andretti Autosport racer Ryan Hunter-Reay won the 500 in 2014 and finished 5th last season. Hunter-Reay has been low-key about this race but has been in the mix during practices and should be one to pay attention to as he works his way through the field from his eighth row starting spot. Starting back in the pack is always dangerous but could allow the DHL team to try an opposite race strategy from the front runners.

Add Sebastien Bourdais to the sneaky fast guys as he will be starting on the inside of the third row and could find his way to the front if some of the younger drivers have issues on the start. The Dale Coyne Racing driver will be starting in his eighth Indianapolis 500 and has had a best finish of 7th in 2014.

Big Stories

The biggest story of the race is a close argument between the top two… Marco and Helio.

I’ll go with Marco Andretti as the top story. If Marco could win the 500 on the 50th anniversary of his grandfathers victory, it would be one of the best stories out of the Speedway in a long time. Mario won the 1969 Indianapolis 500, the only Indy win for an Andretti. Marco finished second in 2006, his rookie year at the Speedway, to Sam Hornish, Jr. in the second closest finish in the history of the race. Since then, Marco has finished third three times in twelve tries. Marco will be running a replica paint scheme of his grandfathers winning ride and it would be amazing to see Mario, Michael and Mario in victory lane with that car.

Just slightly second to that story would be Helio Castroneves winning his fourth Indianapolis 500 and joining the names of the only other four-time winners, A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears. Too see “spiderman” climb the fence at Indianapolis again would be a big deal, and not really out of the question. Castroneves continues to be fast in an IndyCar, even though he doesn’t run the series full time. And, he has been fast throughout the month of May.

The other guy

Simon Pagenaud is the pole-sitter for this race and had been the “other guy” at Team Penske, that is until the IndyCar Grand Prix a couple weeks ago. Pagenaud put on an amazing display of driving through the rain and took the win for the first time in the series since 2017. That run seemed to inspire the Frenchman as he went out last weekend and won the pole for Sunday’s race. Starting from the front of the field, Pagenaud may be hard to catch.

The Carpenters

Ed Carpenter Racing has three drivers in the top four starting positions of the Indianapolis 500. Team owner Ed will roll off from the inside of the front row with Spencer Pigot to his right in the third spot. Ed Jones will start fourth, inside of the second row. Ed Carpenter has had three pole positions and this is the second time he will be starting second. The problem is that those starts, with last year as an exception, have not had great results. Last season Carpenter finished second in the 500 so the tide may be turning. Jones will be staring his third 500 and finished 3rd his rookie year. This will be Pigots fourth 500 and his best finish was 18th.


Here are others that I think could be in the mix for a drink of milk.

Colton Herta – starting 5th: Herta has been fast pretty much everywhere he goes this season and won in the Indy Lights Freedom 100 last year at the Speedway. I expect Herta to be up front and in contention. My only concern would be a rookie mistake. It’s a long race and Indianapolis is normally not kind to rookies, although Herta is the youngest winner in the IndyCar Series after his win at Circuit of the Americas.

Conor Daly – starting 11th: Daly is in arguably his best ride of his career, running the US Air Force Honda for Andretti Autosport. Daly has a best finish of 21st at the Speedway so look for him to greatly improve on that result.

Graham Rahal – starting 17th: While most drivers downplay the Carb Day results, Rahal seemed pretty excited about how they ran. Rahal finished 3rd in 2011, 5th in 2015 and 10th last year. If Graham is happy with his car, he will be one to watch.

Santino Ferrucci – starting 23rd: If confidence matters at all, put Ferrucci in as a solid longshot. The young driver is fast and itching to charge to the front. If anything, the rookie should be exciting to watch.

Jack Harvey – starting 25th: Harvey was in the mix last year as he, Oriol Servia (starting this race in 19th) and Stefan Wilson tried to stretch their fuel to the finish. While that didn’t work last year, lessons learned could provide a different result this year. Harvey has had some great runs this year and is running a limited schedule. Don’t count him out.

So, to wrap it up, my boring easy pick is Alexander Rossi. No, he won’t be boring, but the pick is pretty easy. My longshot is Conor Daly, Rossi’s teammate, friend and former roommate. It would be pretty cool to see them battling for the win and crossing the line side by side.

But, it’s Indianapolis. No matter what we think, and paraphrasing Tony Kanaan, the track chooses its story.

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