Can Briscoe win from the pole?
The Indy 500 is the most iconic race in America. It is the single largest sporting event we have in this country from the standpoint of crowds. There will be just about 500,000 people at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday ready for the call "Ladies and gentlemen start your engines."
Three of the drivers in the field are former Indy 500 race winners: Dario Franchitti (twice), Helio Castroneves (three times) and Scott Dixon (once). Finally we have three former IndyCar champions in the field: Tony Kanaan, Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon.
This Sunday we will crown a first-time champion. I think that there are some outstanding drivers in this year's field that will step up and take their first Indy 500 and drink the bottle of milk in Victory Lane. So who will it be?
Alesi made a name for himself driving in F1. He clearly is a talented driver and while he is a rookie at Indy, he is a very seasoned competitor. His problem is that the Lotus he is driving is simply too slow.
Alesi will suffer from not being able to compete because Lotus has not really put together a power plant that has been in any way competitive this season. They will have a great engine for the 2013 season, but this year, no way they are a factor.
De Silvestro is 23 and known as “The Iron Maiden.” I love her style and ability to drive as well as most of the men in the field. She suffers from being a Lotus driver this year.
In the future, that won't be a problem, but this year, it will keep this "fair maiden" out of Victory Lane.
The team was in a legal battle with Lotus and now they have the Chevy power. Legge held back in qualifying because her goal was to make the field first then worry about winning.
She has a good car but not a lot of time behind the wheel of this car to give her a real chance at contending. She will be around next year, and by then she should be a factor.
Carpenter will be the captain of the Ed Carpenter Racing team Chevrolet. He is the class of those starting so far back in the field. Carpenter a very patient driver and is very good at taking his time and picking his spots.
Carpenter has 500 miles to work his way through the field and only time will tell if his patience will be rewarded. A top 10 finish is very possible.
Cunningham is a talented rookie with a great deal of upside in his future. However, the future is not now for Cunningham.
His resume is very light and his A.J. Foyt Honda was fast enough to qualify ahead of some more talented drivers. But in the end, the car simply is not going to be a factor in this year's race.
Bourdais has very good driving skills along with a good car. Not a super car, but good enough that if things break his way, he could be running with the big boys all day long.
But he is running in their fourth team car and while he will have plenty of support, he is unlikely to be a factor. That said, it is a very good teachable moment for Saavedra.
Plenty of good time to find out what driving in the Indy 500 is really like and in the future he can improve on his lack of oval skills.
He is talented and always surprising but not likely to be a factor in this year’s race. A good goal for him would be to shoot for a top 15 finish, and I think he can pull that off at Indy.
He is another road racer on an oval track with the hopes of breaking through and pulling off a big win. It does not happen at the Indy 500 and it won't happen Sunday for Wilson.
Bell is a talented guy and yes Indy is not his type of race track but he is a fun, talented and aggressive, in a good way, driver.
The question is not about Bell’s talent, it is about the quality of the car and if he can keep things going well, and my guess is no.
Hildebrand will always remember the number 799. That is the number of turns that he executed perfectly in last year’s race before crashing in turn four and losing the race on the final lap.
His Panther Racing Honda team wants another chance and I think he will be a factor Sunday.
Traffic issues and some very good drivers starting ahead of him means he must drive an almost perfect race. He will be a top ten finisher Sunday with a chance to win, but that will take some luck.
Jakes is one of those drivers like so many others in this field that just has not done enough driving on ovals to be a factor in this race.
I fear he will finish near the back of the pack. Long day come Sunday for Jakes, who won't crack the top 20.
Franchitti can drive with the best of them and clearly he knows Indy, but the Honda does not have the power of the Chevys.
The key for all the Honda drivers is gas mileage. So it wise pit stops and use his Indy skills that will give Franchitti the edge he needs. He is a top 10 car in this race but alas, not a winner.
Dixon has won an Indy 500, and many people have thought that he would be a multiple winner at the "Brickyard."
He has the car and the ability to pull it off this year. As with many Honda drivers in the field, the goal will be to pit wisely and to make sure to stay close to the lead.
There no doubt that barring a crash, Dixon will be in the hunt for a second trip to Victory Lane at Indy. That said, I don't think he will win, but a top 10 finish will be his fate come Sunday.
Kimball, there is no doubt, is a driver who can win at Indy.
He will be at the wheel of a Honda with a solid team from Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing. His orange-and-blue car will be in the thick of things all day, and he could very well be a sleeper in this year's 500.
A top 10 finish is in the cards for Kimball come Sunday with a very long shot that he could pull off a win.
Beatriz is a very talented young woman with mad skills and a car that has plenty of power and can contend.
Will she win the race? No. But she has a very good chance of leading some laps and with a bit of luck, a top 10 finish is very possible.
Rahal is the focus each year of question that dogs him each May. Will Graham win the 500 THIS year?
He is one of the most talented young drivers in the field and his Honda is fast, plus he is part of one of the "Super Teams:" Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing.
So can he win THIS year.? The short answer is yes but he will require some mistakes from some guys in front of him.
He is a solid top 10 finisher with a car and the ability to win it all. He needs to be in the top five with 25 laps to go and then we will see if this is his year.
Tagliani is a fine young driver with great talent.
He is very aggressive and someone who could really be a factor at Indy. His Honda with the backing of Team Baracuda - BHA is plenty strong enough.
The real question remains does he have the patience that it takes to win at Indy? Right now I don't think so. but he will tease us with some competitive racing all day Sunday.
In the end, he will finish outside the top 10.
Barrichello, a Brazilian, is way too new to the Indy scene to pull off a win. He showed during qualifying that he can get the car to run fast.
But in traffic, this KV Racing Technology Chevy that Barrichello, is driving is not an F-1 car and this Indy, not Monaco.
Sorry, but no chance he wins on Sunday.
Viso is someone with great promise but simply no chance of winning the race this year.
His oval record is not good enough to be considered a factor at Indy, and his resume is way too light to make him a contender.
While he will start in the top 10, he will finish outside the top 20 at the end of the day come Sunday.
Kanaan is one of the most popular and talented drivers at Indy. He has been the favorite to win the race many times. His KV Racing Technology Chevy is set up fine and there is no doubt that "T.K." can win this race.
He has come close with two second-place finishes and a fourth, so clearly comfort at Indy is not the issue.
If he gets a smooth ride, then T.K. might get his first Indy win. Put him in the top 10 with a real chance to steal this race from one the younger drivers near the end of the race on Sunday.
His team is Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, not a powerful team, but he seems to be able to get the most out of his car. He trusts his crew and is both calm and confident.
Newgarden will be around the front of the field all day long and do all he can to be in a position to win at the end. If a Honda-powered car wins this year's race, it will be driven by this talented young man.
Castroneves is the one multiple Indy 500 winner that I had a problem not picking to take the checkered flag on Sunday. I mean how can you not have this guy at or near the top of your list to win?
He's done it three times before and he comes to Indy in a Chevy that Team Penske has set up just to win this race. He will be a factor all day and quietly he has the confidence of a champion.
He wants to be a four-time winner at Indy and I would not bet against him. OK so sue me for changing my mind. Spider-Man is just too good not pick as top five guy with a chance to win on Sunday.
Power has had issues at Indy and he is far and away one of the best road racers in the world. The question remains can he finally break through at Indy?
This will be his best chance, and no doubt he will be near the front at the finish. I say he is great pick to win the 2012 Indy 500.
Andretti has a great many fans wanting him to win come Sunday. Well does it surprise anyone that an Andretti has a chance at winning the Indy 500?
But because he is an Andretti and Indy seems to have a curse on the family, I say he will fade near the end and finish in the top five.
Hunter-Reay has been running near the top of the field all season but has yet to win a race. He must be considered a a possible winner at Indy. What the gang at Andretti Autosport has done this year is to make sure their top drivers have all the tools needed to win.
Clearly the Andretti team has put their main focus on Indy and putting one of their "young guns" in Victory Lane as their main goal for Sunday.
Hunter-Reay is one of those young guns who could come away Sunday with a Indy 500 win and an Andretti car wins on Sunday, it won't be Hunter-Reay, but he will get a top five and maybe a podium.
Hinchcliffe is ready to make a name for himself, and the young man from Canada could be a good bet to win this year at Indy.
I like his confidence and his calm style of driving. That is the combination that it takes to win an Indy 500. If an Andretti car wins the 500 on Sunday, it will be Hinchcliffe.
The old saying "Heavy is the head that wears the crown," should not apply to Briscoe as he ready to handle starting the Indy 500 from the point.
For him to win, the key will be driving a smart race and working with his Penske teammates. This looks like an old-fashioned shootout between the Penske and the Andretti gangs.
If the win is Penske, it will not be Briscoe; it will be Will Power drinking the milk in Victory Lane on Sunday.