Indianapolis 500 Fast Nine Preview

Indianapolis 500 Fast Nine Preview

by May 23, 2021 0 comments

Today, nine drivers will compete for the pole position for this year’s edition of The Indianapolis 500. After day one of qualifying yesterday, however, positions ten through thirty were locked in. Five drivers are on the outside looking in for the final three spots, plus a former 500 winner and series champion. Here are some headlines from yesterday and a breakdown of the pole competing drivers right here.

Saturday Notes:

The biggest headline from Saturday would involve one Will Power. The 2018 500 winner struggled yesterday and his season could take a devastating turn if he fails to qualify today. For those not familiar, The Indianapolis 500 is one of two IndyCar races that doubles championship point values. Essentially, his championship hopes are as good as done if he fails to make it in. the other four drivers, he is competing with for the last three spots are Charlie Kimball, Sage Karam, R.C. Enerson, and Simona de Silvestro.

A quick note on de Silvestro as well. She is the lone woman in this year’s field, however, there are a few other cool details about her Paretta Autosport entry. Both of her spotters are women, and multiple members of her pit crew are as well. Not to mention her car owner Beth Paretta. All around, it is a cool story to keep up with as she attempts to make the 33-car field today.

On to some notable drivers who did lock into the field now. Power’s Team Penske teammates did not fare significantly better than him. Former 500 winner Simon Pagenaud will start all the way back in 26th. Former two-time series champion Josef Newgarden will start back in 21st, and V8 Supercars phenom Scott McLaughlin will start 17th. Some quick hitters on some other notables as well. Last year’s pole-sitter Marco Andretti did not find last year’s luck on Saturday, as he will start 25th. Defending race winner Takuma Sato will start 15th, and Alexander Rossi barely missed the cut for the Fast Nine, qualifying 10th. Now for the Nine drivers who will compete for the pole.

Related: Indianapolis 500 Odds.

The Fast Nine:

No. 8 Marcus Ericsson– Chip Ganassi Racing

The former F1 Driver has now guaranteed himself his best Indianapolis 500 starting position in his third start in the race. He also starts a parade of seven Honda drivers who will compete for the pole as opposed to just two Chevrolet drivers. Also gives his car owner Chip Ganassi a near 50 percent chance of seeing one of his cars lead the field to green next week. Ericsson has some work to do in relation to his competition, but a Fast Nine appearance is something to be proud of.

No. 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay– Andretti Autosport

The man nicknamed “Captain America” has certainly not found a good level of success since his Indianapolis 500 win back in 2014. Hunter-Reay has just five wins to his name afterward and has not won in 36 consecutive starts. Indianapolis has either been a boom or bust track for him, and he has been able to string some strong results there recently. A good effort today could go a long way for him in relation to next Sunday.

No. 10 Alex Palou– Chip Ganassi Racing

The 24-year-old Spaniard is off to a surprisingly excellent first season with Chip Ganassi Racing. Palou sits second in the points and picked up his first win in the season opener in Alabama. This is also his second Fast Nine appearance in the same amount of 500 Starts. As you may have already guessed, the Ganassi Hondas have been fantastic in the lead up to the 500. Palou now has an opportunity to give himself the biggest achievement of his young career today by getting himself on the pole.

No. 06 Helio Castroneves– Meyers Shank Racing

Do not know what is weirder, Castroneves not driving the number three car, or him not racing with Team Penske. The three-time winner of The Indianapolis 500 has only raced at the brickyard, either oval or road-course, since 2018. If he were to qualify better than eighth today, it would mark his best qualifying performance since 2015 where he ended up fifth. Also, fair to ask at 46 years old if this will be Castroneves’ final Indianapolis 500 start of his illustrious career.

No. 21 Rinus VeeKay– Ed Carpenter Racing

VeeKay comes off his first career win a week ago on the Indianapolis Road Course. Now is one of the two flag bearers for the bowtie brigade this week in Indianapolis 500 Qualifying. The Honda entries this year have certainly been better than Chevrolet, but the ECR Chevy’s have the power to keep up with the fields best. VeeKay would also be only the second-ever Dutchman to qualify on pole if he does. Arie Luyendyk did so on three separate occasions between 1993 to 1999.

No. 20 Ed Carpenter– Ed Carpenter Racing

Since 2013, Carpenter has made the Fast Nine on five occasions. He qualified on pole three times, and second place for the other two years. Safe to say that the near lifelong Indianapolis native has the scouting report down on his hometown track. He has the speed to keep up with the three gentlemen in front of him on this list, it will just be a matter of putting four elite consecutive laps together.

No. 48 Tony Kanaan– Chip Gannasi Racing

Kanaan by default has guaranteed himself his best Indianapolis 500 start since 2015 when he qualified fourth. He is now back with Chip Ganassi Racing after a multi-year stint with A. J. Foyt Enterprises. Kanaan, in his brief time driving the car normally driven by Jimmie Johnson this year on road courses, has been super-fast. A second career Indianapolis 500 pole, and first since 2005, should not be ruled out of the equation.

No. 26 Colton Herta– Andretti Autosport

The 21-year-old California native may be the face of a vibrant IndyCar youth movement. He is now poised for another excellent starting spot in just his third career Indianapolis 500 attempt. His worst qualifying effort still by default will be a tenth-place start last August. An absurd early track record for Herta. He could also give Andretti Autosport an Indianapolis 500 pole in back-to-back years to boot.

No. 9 Scott Dixon– Chip Ganassi Racing

Finally, we hit the Iceman. Dixon last year lost the pole position in about the most excruciating fashion possible. Andretti, on the final pass of qualifying, bumped Dixon off the top spot by a little under two one-hundredths of a mile-per-hour. But if Dixon can have an encore performance from Saturday on Sunday, that will not be an issue. Dixon had the first qualifying attempt on the day yesterday, and that pass would not be beaten for the rest of the six-hour qualifying session. Now Dixon looks for a fourth career Indianapolis 500 pole today.

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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images

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