2019 Indy 500: Race Preview

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Helio Castroneves leads the pack during qualifying for the 2019 Indianapolis 500. © IndyCar Media/Chris Owens

The Indianapolis 500 takes place this Sunday in the most anticipated race of the 2019 NTT INDYCAR Series.

An event steeped in tradition, the Indy 500 has been run 102 times since 1911, stopping only during the First and Second World Wars.

The Indy 500 is also an event that takes place over several weeks throughout the month of May. Drivers and teams arrived at Indianapolis more than two weeks ago to begin preparations, participating in numerous practice sessions and two days of qualifying.

With the 33 car field now set, this year’s running of the Indy 500 is sure to produce its fair share of memorable moments.

The Contenders

Simon Pagenaud, winner of the IndyCar Grand Prix earlier this month, will start from pole position. Pagenaud put his No. 22 Menards Team Penske at the front of the starting grid.

Over the course of four laps, the Frenchman achieved an average of 229.992 MPH in qualifying.

Driving for one of the most ‘winningest’ teams in the Penske outfit, Pagenaud will feel the pressure this Sunday. With seven previous Indy 500 starts to his name, Pagenaud has only been able to finish as high as sixth.

Simon Pagenaud is aiming to become the first Frenchman to win the Indy 500, since Gaston Chevrolet’s triumph in 1920. © Matt Fraver/IndyCar Media

Starting alongside Pagenaud in second place will be Ed Carpenter in his No. 20 ECR-Chevrolet. The three-time Indy 500 pole-sitter is always a threat to win at the Brickyard. Carpenter will want to go one better this time, after finishing second in 2018.

His team-mate Spencer Pigot will line-up third on Sunday. In three previous attempts at the 500, his has managed a best finish of 18th place.

Will Power, will be keen to build on the momentum from last year’s victory. On Sunday Australian will line-up sixth on the grid in his No. 12 Verizon Team Penske-Chevrolet.

The last driver to win consecutive Indy 500 titles was Power’s teammate Helio Castroneves. He achieved the feat in 2001 and 2002 respectively.

Besides Power and Castroneves, there are five other former Indy 500 winners in this year’s race. Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Takuma Sato, and Alexander Rossi will all be looking for their second Indy 500 victory.

Rookies in the Picture

Pit road during practice for the 2019 Indy 500. ©Walter Kuhn/IndyCar Media

For the first time in a while, a strong number of rookies enter Indianapolis with a legitimate chance at victory.

Colton Herta earned the highest starting position among this year’s rookies. He put his No. 88 Harding Steinbrenner Racing-Honda fifth on the grid. Herta earned his first IndyCar win at the Circuit of the Americas, and is currently 13th in the standings.

Dale Coyne Racing’s Santino Ferrucci will line up 23rd and looked quite strong in practice throughout the month of May. Despite his qualifying performance, strategy calls could put Ferrucci in a strong position to fight for the race win.

This year marks the 20th-consecutive Indy 500 with at least one woman among the race’s 33 starters. Pippa Mann was able to redeem herself after getting bumped from the field in 2018, and qualified her No. 39 Clauson-Marshall Racing Chevrolet 30th on the grid.

If recent Indy 500’s are any indication, this year’s running of the ‘Greatest Spectacle in Racing’ is sure to make for an unpredictable yet exciting affair. Rain is also forecast on raceday, which could make for even more uncertainty.

You can watch the 2019 Indianapolis 500 live on Sky Sports F1, from 5pm BST.

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