Indy 500 arrives with clear favorites, plenty of off-the-radar spoilers
Posted By: Sophia Andrew
Posted On: May 28, 2023
After two weeks of qualifying and practice leading up to the Indy 500, the favorites have emerged. This year’s race, the 107th running, is anticipated to draw one of the largest crowds in over three decades at the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Alex Palou, the current leader in IndyCar points and a former series champion, secures the pole position and heads the formidable lineup from Chip Ganassi Racing. Palou holds the position as the frontrunner with 5-1 odds, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. Behind him are Pato O’Ward, the Mexican sensation representing Arrow McLaren, and Scott Dixon, Palou’s teammate at Ganassi, who seeks his second Indy 500 victory.
Palou and Dixon have additional teammates capable of clinching victory, including defending champion Marcus Ericsson and two-time winner Takuma Sato. Meanwhile, O’Ward is supported by McLaren teammates Felix Rosenqvist, Alexander Rossi, and Tony Kanaan, all former winners of the prestigious event.
However, as is customary with “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” the race rarely adheres to expectations. The chaos of 33 cars hurtling down the front stretch and navigating the notorious first turn at speeds exceeding 230 mph, followed by the ensuing 200 laps, often yields unexpected outcomes.
When asked about potential dark horse contenders, Colton Herta of Andretti Autosport mentioned Agustín Canapino, an immensely popular athlete from Argentina making his Indy 500 debut. Despite qualifying in the ninth row, Canapino has shown impressive speed throughout practice sessions and the final shakedown on Friday. Herta believes Canapino possesses a fast car and could achieve remarkable results with some adjustments in his driving.
Josef Newgarden, a driver from Team Penske still vying for his first Indy 500 triumph, also recognized Canapino’s talents. Newgarden expressed admiration for Canapino’s performance this year, despite initial skepticism from others. Newgarden praised Canapino’s remarkable achievements and emphasized his belief in the Argentine driver’s capabilities.
Another surprise this May is Santino Ferrucci, who unexpectedly emerged as a contender. Ferrucci joined A.J. Foyt Racing, a team that has faced struggles in recent years but underwent operational changes during the offseason. Alongside rookie Benjamin Pedersen, Ferrucci has turned heads throughout the month, consistently finishing no worse than 10th in his four previous starts. Tony Kanaan recognizes Ferrucci’s potential, acknowledging his past strong finishes and impressive car, making him a formidable competitor.
While some teams have flown under the radar, Andretti Autosport and the Penske team showcased their strength during the final practice session, making a statement. Andretti Autosport demonstrated their prowess when Kyle Kirkwood claimed the fifth-fastest time on the speed chart, closely followed by Herta and Romain Grosjean, giving the team three cars in the top eight. Meanwhile, the Penske team, which faced a modest performance during qualifying, found renewed speed and confidence in the final practice. Will Power recorded the third-fastest lap, with Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin also making the top 10.
However, practice results are merely a glimpse of what lies ahead. The Indy 500 is one of the most iconic races in motorsports and is renowned for its unpredictability. “It’s really hard to single anyone out these days,” Newgarden commented. The race is open to anyone, with strategies that can completely flip with 50 laps to go, shuffling the front-runners to the back and vice versa. The outcome remains a mystery, as the race day could be either ordinary or filled with unexpected twists. It’s always a guessing game when it comes to the Indy 500.