May is here so it must be time for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to get busy with practice and qualifying for the ‘Greatest Spectacle in Racing’, the Indy 500. Winning races is the ultimate goal of any racer or race team but there’s not a higher honor for qualifying than the pole position for the Indianapolis 500 (May 26). With that said, no front row will get more publicity than the top three spots at Indy. And who are the three most likely to garner that honor?
Last year’s winner of the race was Dario Franchitti, but he started in the middle of the pack. Ryan Briscoe grabbed the 2012 pole position (source: ESPN) and though he didn’t win the race, he was able to finish in the top five. Also on the front row was James Hinchcliffe, who must have followed Briscoe because he ended up right behind Ryan in sixth place. Outside the front row in the number three spot was Ryan Hunter-Reay who went on to win the IZOD IndyCar championship but a suspension problem ended his day, just past the halfway mark – although he was competitive most of the time he was on the track. So it does pay to be a front-runner.
And who might grace the front row in 2013 at Indianapolis? Here are your three drivers (listed alphabetically).
Marco Andretti – This was a tough choice amongst the Andretti Autosport teammates but in the end, it came down to the 26 year olds with Andretti nipping out his Canadian buddy Hinchcliffe. Yes, James has two wins this year but 2013 is looking more and more like an Andretti year. And Marco has been on the Indy 500 front row three times in only seven starts. That tells you right there, he will likely be in front on pole day.
Helio Castroneves – The Indianapolis International Speedway was made for Helio. He has four poles and five front row starting spots in 12 starts. He has won the Indy 500 three times and has a total of five podiums. Castroneves went eight straight years starting in the first five positions and when you combine the fact he has been one of the fastest cars all year in the series, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out he’ll likely be on the front row again in 2013.
Scott Dixon – Similar to Castroneves, Dixon has always done well at this speedway. He has been on the front row twice and had the pole back in 2008 when he won the Indy 500. Remarkably, Dixon hasn’t finished worse than sixth the last seven races at Indy. Scott also has six top five starts at Indy and has looked solid so far this season in the series, sitting fifth overall. He was runner-up to his teammate Franchitti last season at the Indy 500 checkers and he’ll most likely run up near the front again in 2013 with a front row start.
Here’s a longshot for the front row. Consider A.J. Allmendinger. He’s driving in excellent equipment – same as Castroneves (Penske Racing). Although a rookie, A.J.’s been around the track many times in a stock car, starting sixth at the Brickyard in 2011. Plus, nobody thought Ryan Briscoe would win the pole last year driving for Penske, so …
Additional sources: IndyCar