Ed Carpenter is in a fantastic position to blaze a trail to his first Indy 500 win. Of course, he is on the pole for the historic race, so it's not like that statement is going out on a limb.
He's not the only one. With a driver/owner of a single-car team earning the top qualifying position, this Indy 500 feels more wide open then ever.
Well, except for the cars running Honda engines. Chevrolet engines have dominated their competitors thus far at this year's trip to Indy, and there is no reason to think that will be any different come race day.
Have a look at the starting grid of the May 26 race, and then I'll break down three drivers in the best positions for glory. But first, I'll let this tweet from ESPN get us primed for the race:
Full Starting Lineup (via Indycar.com)
|24||Simona de Silvestro||78|
Marco Andretti (No. 3)
While six of the last seven winners of the Indy 500 have been from Target Chip Ganassi Racing or Penske Racing, Andretti Autosport destroyed them in qualifying.
As you might have guessed, Marco is part of Andretti Autosport, and he is one of five drivers from this team to start in the first three rows. His inclusion in the front row was no surprise. Marco excels on oval tracks, and he's been in good form this year.
He is third in the championship points standings, and he's also looked great while working at the famed track.
IndyCar points that out with this tweet:
Marco's highest finish at Indy is third, which he's done twice, and he's ready to improve upon that number this year.
Helio Castroneves (No. 8)
Helio Castroneves should always be considered a factor at this race.
Who will finish highest?
The three-time winner often manages to put his best foot forward in Indianapolis, and he will be looking to join Rick Mears, A.J. Foyt and Al Unser as the only four-time winners of this race. It's been 22 years since anyone joined that exclusive list.
As a member of the powerhouse Penske team, we know Castroneves' car will be ready to fly.
He has had a strong May and has been fast while at Indy.
Castroneves hasn't won this race since 2009, and he stands an excellent chance at ending that drought this year.
Ed Carpenter (No. 1)
It was a pleasant surprise to see Ed Carpenter sneak away with the pole. As a one-car team, he is not supposed to be able to compete with the big boys.
Of course, Carpenter certainly knows the ins and outs of this track—his family owns it.
Carpenter has been competing in IndyCar for 11 years, and he has just two wins in over 132 starts. All of this would seem to spell doom for Carpenter in this race. However, the fact that he won the pole cannot be overlooked.
That kind of speed is often rewarded on race day. The pole winner has won four of the past nine Indy 500s.