96th Running of the Indy 500
The 96th running of the Indy 500 will be run this Sunday at 12 EST (12:12 green flag) on ABC, with pre-race starting an hour earlier at 11A.M. In the first year of the post-centennial era, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has experienced a wealth of storylines over the past two weeks. IndyCar Garage breaks down what to watch going into Sunday’s race.1. Can Honda keep with up Chevy?
Chevy engines are back in the IZOD IndyCar Series for the first time since 2005 and have dominated the first part of the 2012 season and the speed charts at IMS this may. Chevy won the first four races of the season, put eight of the nine cars in the fast nine shoot out on pole day, and has captured all five poles (without counting the LB engine switches) in 2012. That leaves Honda scrambling to figure out their engine program heading into the biggest race of the season. With two time Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti and 2008 winner Scott Dixon starting 15th and 16th and serving as the top Honda drivers anything is possible, but it appears that Chevy headed to their first Indy 500 victory since 2002 with Helio Castroneves.
2. Will we see a new 1st time winner this yr?
The last time the Indy 500 had a first time winner, was in 2008 when Scott Dixon won. 2009 brought us Helio’s 3rd, 2010 was Dario’s 2nd and 2011 was Dan Wheldon’s 2nd. From a fans perspective, a new Indy 500 winner would be great for the series and the event. With only three former champions in this year’s race, it’s a far cry from the early 1990’s when the Indy 500 featured 8 – 10 former winners on a year to year basis. An American hasn’t drank the milk since 2006, so with the likes of Marco Andretti, Graham Rahal, J.R. Hildebrand, Josef Newgarden, Charlie Kimball, Ed Carpenter, Townsend Bell, Bryan Clauson, and Ed Carpenter all searching for their first Indy 500 victory, we could be looking at an American in victory lane.
3. The debut of the DW12 on super speed way
The new generation of IndyCars named after the late Dan Wheldon will debut on their first of the season in the biggest race of the 2012 IZOD IndyCar season. After hearing driver’s quotes and comments from the past week, anything is possible for the type of racing on Sunday. The most common theory of how the racing could be is based on the difference in cars from 2011 to 2012. The DW12 creates a big hole of clean air for trailing cars to draft in and pick up a tow much further back than the IR07 (the 2011 IndyCar). Will Power was quoted earlier in the week as saying, we could see a version of Indy 500 pack racing, where groups of cars will be within split seconds of one another. However the racing turns out, the DW12 has already been tested over qualification weekend by Ed Carpenter, Bryan Clauson, Charlie Kimball, and Oriol Servia. Each of those drivers made contact with the safer barrior and tested the impacts of the new Dallara chassis. Early results seem positive, but as all fans remember from Vegas, preventing these cars from going air born in major collisions will be what all eyes will be watching Sunday.
4. Will the weather impact the racing conditions on Sunday?
The forecast calls for a 0% chance of rain on Sunday and a high of 96. The track will obviously be hotter than the air temperature and that should lead to slippery conditions on track. With most of the rubber on the track still grooved in from last week and no rain in the forecast until after rain day. Fresh tires could be at a premium Sunday, expect wrecks in the corners and the type of crashes that Bryan Clauson, Ed Carpenter, and Charlie Kimball experienced over qualification weekend.
5. Who is the favorite?
When you start to think of who can win the 96th Indy 500, its realistic to think that any of the 31 cars powered by Honda or Chevy could be around at the end. Driver skill and team elements will come into factor and that’s where the lists gets reduced to around 10-15 drivers. Briscoe, Helio, and Power are all listed as the favorites in Vegas. Close behind on Dario and Dixon, with the Andretti bunch of Marco, Hinch, and Hunter-Reay all in the mix. If you include Rahal, Carpenter, Hildebrand, TK, Tagliani, Justin Wilson, and rookie Josef Newgarden that brings the list up to 15 of the 33 drivers in the field. I would be very surprised if one of the drivers listed above isn’t in victory lane on Sunday.6. Indy 500 Predictions
2012 Indy 500 Champion : Ryan Hunter-Reay
2nd place: Will Power
3rd place: Marco Andretti
4th place: Josef Newgarden
5th place: Helio Castroneves
ROY: Josef New Garden