INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – The favorites became well known after two weeks of qualifying and practicing ahead of the Indy 500, which will take place Sunday for its 107th run with one of the big crowds. The most in more than three decades is expected to fill the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
IndyCar scorer Alex Palou, the series champion two years ago, sits on the pole to lead the power quartet from Chip Ganassi Racing. Palou is the favorite bet with odds of 5-1, according to FanDuel Sportsbookahead of Pato O’Ward, the equally Mexican star of the Arrow McLaren team, and Ganassi’s teammate Scott Dixon, who is still seeking a second Indy 500 championship.
Palou and Dixon have two more potential teammates in defending champion Marcus Ericsson and two-time champion Takuma Sato, while O’Ward has McLaren team-mates Felix Rosenqvist and former champions Alexander Rossi and Tony Kanaan.
However, things rarely go according to the script in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing”. The chaos of 33 cars flying down the stretch of road ahead and into that infamous first bend at more than 230 mph, and the next 200 laps, often produced some unexpected results.
When asked about a surprise candidate, Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta replied: “Canapino.”
It would be Agustín Canapino, one of the most famous athletes in Argentina, who is about to make his Indy 500 debut. He trained very quickly and despite qualifying in the ninth row, he showed a lot. speed in the final challenge on Friday.
“I think he’s still got a bit of a learning curve from watching him and anything about his gaps and timing,” Herta said, “but he seems to have a fast car. I think if he can make some adjustments to the driving, that could be really good for him.”
Josef Newgarden, the Team Penske driver still looking for his first Indy 500 win, also said Canapino stands out to him.
“You put Canapino in last place and, oh, he’ll do it,” Newgarden said. “He’s been very, very impressive this year, and people have put him off before he even started. He did a great job despite his inexperience. I cannot speak highly enough.”
Santino Ferrucci is another racer who popped up in May. He joins AJ Foyt Racing, which has struggled for years but has undergone an operational overhaul in the off-season, and along with rookie Benjamin Pedersen turned heads all month.
Ferrucci, who will start in fourth, has never finished worse than 10th in his previous four starts.
“Yes, I think Santino can be fast if they all get it right in the pit and other things,” said Kanaan. “He’s finished first here before, he’s run up front and he’s got a really good car, so I think he’s going to have a hard time.”
Two of the more popular teams made quiet preparations for the Indianapolis 500 before making statements during final practice.
Andretti Autosport was flying under the radar but sent out a warning on Friday as Kyle Kirkwood was fifth fastest on the speed charts, two places behind Herta and Romain Grosjean took home the team’s third car in the top eight.
Meanwhile, the Penske team appeared to have found speed – and confidence – in the final practice session after placing only one driver in the first four rows into qualifying. Will Power had a third-fastest turnaround in practice while Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin were also in the top 10.
Practice is one thing, though. One of the most iconic races in motorsport is something else entirely.
“It’s hard to single out anyone these days,” says Newgarden. “Anyone can win this race, really. This strategy can be upside down with 50 advancers and suddenly the frontrunners are behind and vice versa. You just don’t know how it will form. It could be an ordinary day; it can be a crazy day. It’s always a guess when you go into these things.