The 97th Indy 500 is scheduled for Sunday, May 26, and the excitement surrounding the race has shifted to the starting grid and which top qualifiers will struggle at the biggest IndyCar race of the year.
With 33 cars lining up to vie for the win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a car and driver qualifying well doesn’t mean they will be able to sustain that position with every other competitor breathing down their necks.
All of the following drivers performed well in qualifying—earning their way into the Fast Nine—but will be overtaken by better drivers behind them in the starting order.
Full Indy 500 Starting Grid
Four-Lap Average (MPH)
|24||Simona De Silvestro||225.226|
|28||Tristian Vautier (R)||224.873|
|31||Conor Daly (R)||223.582|
* Qualifying results and starting grid via Indy 500's official website.
Top Qualifiers That Will Struggle
Despite qualifying on the pole, IndyCar veteran Ed Carpenter will not have the dream run that anyone starting from the front thinks about. There is a chance Carpenter finishes in the top 10, and driver and his team would consider that a success.
After just two top-10 finishes in nine career starts at Indianapolis Motor Speedway—his best finish was fifth in 2008 with Vision Racing—there is no reason to expect a better finish from a racer that has finished 11th three times.
Carpenter is also racing for his own team now and likely put all of his eggs into the qualifying basket. When it comes to Sunday’s race, the veteran will be lucky to finish in the top 10.
While there is no discounting how exciting it is for E.J. Viso and the Andretti Autosport/HVM Racing teams that Viso was able to fun the fourth-fastest lap in qualifying, it's where he will finish that should have everyone worried.
Viso has started the Indy 500 five times—finishing 24th or worse in four of the five chances—and only managed his best finish last season, taking home 18th-place honors.
The hope from the driver and his team is that the lessons learned over the years will help him maintain throughout the race and have a solid finish, but the track record for Viso speaks volumes about where he’ll end up finishing.
The excitement surrounding Ryan Hunter-Reay and his seventh-place starting position has the entire Andretti Autosport team and IndyCar fanbase at a fever pitch, but this grid spot comes with a caveat: This driver doesn't finish races well.
Hunter-Reay has been eligible to race the Indy 500 for five years since he left the Rahal Letterman Racing team, and he has never finished better than 18th in that time.
As great as his sixth-place finish was in 2008—Hunter-Reay’s first chance at the illustrious track—the lack of success since then is indicative of what race fans should expect this time around as well.