Honda has been more competitive than it has been since the introduction of the DW12 (the current Dallara IndyCar that was partially developed by the late Dan Wheldon) with two out of three spots on the front row. And then there’s the amazing comeback of James Hinchcliffe who captured the pole with the new qualifying format, and who a year ago nearly lost his life in a practice crash at the Speedway. Honda’s Indy update has proven worthy with eight of the top 12 positions going to the company. But don’t count Chevy out. Joesef Newgarden almost had the pole if it weren’t for Hinchcliffe’s last minute heroics when he took the pole away as the last driver to qualify.
Penske and Ganassi struggled for speed but will they have the best race setups? Team Penske’s Will Power was in contention at least for the pole but ended up down in sixth, and his teammates Simon Pagenaud and Helio Castroneves only made it to eighth and ninth respectively. However, you can never count Penske out. Juan Pablo Montoya, last year’s winner, qualified a lowly 17th but that is about where he started from last year and look how that turned out.
Ganassi was way off. Something with their engineering strategy held the Ganassi team back from what everyone thinks they are capable of, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be competitive. The race is a completely different animal than qualifying so look for the Ganassi squad, especially Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan to be in the thick of it when it matters.
IndyCar now has the best opportunity it has had in decades to show casual race fans that it is even more exciting than it was in its prime in the late ’80s and early ’90s. The racing is better, and there are certainly more teams capable of winning any given race including the 500.
My darkhorse pick for the win is going to be Takuma Sato. If A.J. Foyt Racing can give him a good car and he can stay out of trouble, he could do it and would be a huge crowd favorite as well because A.J. is practically royalty at Indy. Sato, who has alway been fast at Indy, almost won it in 2012 but has had plenty of bad luck.
|Ps.||Driver||Team||Manufacturer||Qualifying Speed [mph]|
|1.||James Hinchcliffe||Schmidt Peterson Mtspts||Honda||230.760|
|2.||Josef Newgarden||Ed Carpenter Racing||Chevrolet||230.700|
|3.||Ryan Hunter-ReayW||Andretti Autosport||Honda||230.648|
|4.||Townsend Bell||Andretti Autosport||Honda||230.481|
|5.||Carlos Munoz||Andretti Autosport||Honda||230.287|
|6.||Will Power||Team Penske||Chevrolet||229.669|
|7.||Mikhail Aleshin||Schmidt Peterson Mtspts||Honda||229.562|
|8.||Simon Pagenaud||Team Penske||Chevrolet||229.139|
|9.||Helio Castroneves-W||Team Penske||Chevrolet||229.115|
|10.||Oriol Servia||Schmidt Peterson Mtspts||Honda||229.060|
|11.||Alexander Rossi-R||Andretti Autosport||Honda||228.473|
|12.||Takuma Sato||A.J. Foyt Racing||Honda||228.029|
|13.||Scott Dixon-W||Chip Ganassi Racing||Chevrolet||227.991|
|14.||Marco Andretti||Andretti Autosport||Honda||227.969|
|15.||JR Hildebrand||Ed Carpenter Racing||Chevrolet||227.876|
|16.||Charlie Kimball||Chip Ganassi Racing||Chevrolet||227.822|
|17.||J-Pablo Montoya-W||Team Penske||Chevrolet||227.684|
|18.||Tony Kanaan-W||Chip Ganassi Racing||Chevrolet||227.430|
|19.||Sebastien Bourdais||KV Racing Technology||Chevrolet||227.428|
|20.||Ed Carpenter||Ed Carpenter Racing||Chevrolet||227.226|
|21.||Gabby Chaves||Dale Coyne Racing||Honda||227.192|
|22.||Max Chilton-R||Chip Ganassi Racing||Chevrolet||226.686|
|23.||Sage Karam||Dreyer & Reinbold Racing||Chevrolet||226.436|
|24.||Conor Daly||Dale Coyne Racing||Honda||226.312|
|25.||Pippa Mann||Dale Coyne Racing||Honda||226.006|
|26.||Graham Rahal||Rahal Letterman Lanigan||Honda||225.847|
|27.||Matt Brabham-R||KV Racing Technology||Chevrolet||225.727|
|28.||Bryan Clauson||Dale Coyne Racing||Honda||225.266|
|29.||Spencer Pigot-R||Rahal Letterman Lanigan||Honda||224.847|
|30.||Stefan Wilson-R||KV Racing Technology||Chevrolet||224.602|
|31.||Jack Hawksworth||A.J. Foyt Racing||Honda||224.596|
|32.||Buddy Lazier-W||Lazier-Burns Racing||Chevrolet||222.154|
|33.||Alex Tagliani||A.J. Foyt Racing||Honda||No speed|