Dario Franchitti won last year's Indy 500. What chance does he have to repeat as champion for the Indy 500 in 2013?
Franchitti already faces an uphill battle. He qualified 17th, meaning he will start the race from the middle of the pack. However, he did start last year's race from the 16th position. He's a veteran who can win from any position.
If Franchitti can emerge from the middle of the pack, he will face a number of tough competitors. Ed Carpenter, for example, is in a good position to knock him off, as he holds the pole position. But while that is an impressive feat, he finished 17th in practice. In contrast, Franchitti finished sixth in practice.
Carpenter knows he has work to do:
"The engine feels really good here on Carb Day, and we'll see during the race," he said, via the Miami Herald. "I think the race car is pretty decent."
If Pagenaud can continue that kind of pace, it will be tough for Franchitti to keep up.
In addition, Franchitti will have to keep up with speedster E.J. Viso, who finished second in the final Indy 500 practice on Friday with a speed of 225.304 mph. However, Viso also recorded the fastest lap at the speedway since 2003 when he hit 229.537 mph last week, according to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's website.
“I think the car we have evolved from the team from last year has been really heading in the right direction," Viso said, via the IMS website. "We have been testing a number of pieces in the car and I think we have a stronger car than what we began with. It’s all about finding as much mechanical grip as possible and then when it comes time to trim it you should be in a good position if you did your homework.”
Thus, Franchitti has to find a way to stave off the speedsters. Pagenaud and Viso will come out flying, as will Marco Andretti, who came close to 230 mph in the practice rounds as well. Andretti is also confident, according to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's website.
"I think we would have been over 230 if we had a full day," he said. "As a team I think we're quite comfortable with our speeds, but obviously tomorrow is another day and it's just going to come down to having a good balance."
For his part, Franchitti has expressed confidence.
"The balance of the car is now good, and the Honda engine is a lot better," said Franchitti, via the Miami Herald. "So I'm feeling a lot more confident about it. We're at least in the fight now. I feel we can get up there and mix in."
The 40-year-old was candid about his preparation in this interview with Janine Brady of NBCUDirect.com:
Franchitti is a veteran who cannot be counted out. He's been here before and has won two of the last three Indy 500 races and three titles overall. He knows this track better than anyone.
But the odds are against him. Not only does he have to come from the middle of the field, but he has to deal with some really fast cars in front of him. He will need some help from his Chip Ganassi teammates and a few lucky breaks.
Franchitti doesn't have the best of chances. He has too many things working against him. Barring a wipeout by one of the speedsters, he will need to get all of the breaks in order to win. As of now, that makes it too hard for Franchitti to repeat as Indy 500 champ.