Archive for May 26, 2011

Courtesy of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Courtesy of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Photography Staff

Speedway Sightings at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway

By: Wm. LaDow
Daily Trackside Reports from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Published in the Post-Tribune, a Chicago Sun-Times Publication
May 25, 2011

This year’s Indianapolis 500 fields five former winners.

Leading the group and sitting in the middle of the first row is Scott Dixon, who many insiders consider the driver to beat. Had it not been for a Target Ganassi crew member mistake in qualifying, it’s likely Dixon would’ve contended for the Pole. In 2008, Scott started from the Pole and won the 500 leading 115 of 200 laps. Dixon is a two-time winner of the IndyCar Series Championship in 2003, 2008, finishing second in the title chase in 2007, 2009.

This will be Dan Wheldon’s ninth Indy 500. Driving for former Andretti teammate Bryan Herta, Wheldon is benefiting from the Bryan Herta Racing/Sam Schmidt team alliance. A 500 winner in 2005, Wheldon captured the IndyCar Series Championship that same season. With driving stints for Andretti-Green, Ganassi and Panther Racing, Wheldon has 15 victories overall in IndyCar.

Buddy Rice’s “Month of May” in 2004 was one of the most successful in IndyCar history. He won the 500 from the pole for his first IndyCar win and his Rahal/Letterman team won the Indy 500 Pit Stop Challenge. A six year IndyCar veteran, his most recent racing effort has been with the Spirit of Daytona Racing Team in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series in 2010. His return to Indianapolis with Panther Racing in the No. 44 Fuzzy Vodka entry has been impressive as he clocked a 227.849 mph lap and then qualified on the inside of the third row.

Two-time Indy 500 winner (2007, 2010) Dario Franchitti has five top-ten finishes in just seven 500’s. Franchitti, starting on the outside of the third row in his No. 10 Ganassi Racing Dallara also has three IndyCar Series season titles (2007, 2009, 2010) to his credit. Although Franchitti was clocked 11th fastest on the month at 227.432 mph, his competition here at the Brickyard doesn’t believe they witnessed Franchitti and his Ganassi team show their true speed, saving it for race day.

Last on our list, but fastest during the “Month of May” (228.611 mph) is three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves. Qualifying on the inside of the sixth row in the No. 3 Shell V-Power Pennzoil Penske, few here at the Brickyard expect to see him racing mid-pack for long. With wins at Indy in 2001, 2002 and 2009, Castroneves has captured nine top-ten finishes in just ten 500s with a staggering six top-fives.

Make no mistake, regardless of their team’s resources, each one of these past winners is a contender to be a repeat winner of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

Past Indianapolis 500 Winners ...