Many think of Memorial Day as a time for remembering the fallen soldiers who have given their lives for the United States, but there are events like the 2014 Indianapolis 500 that are worthy of taking place during such a special weekend.
From the hallowed 2.5-mile track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 33 of the fastest drivers will make their way around the historic course and reach speeds of well over 220 miles per hour.
After a wild qualifying session that saw seven drivers top 230 mph, here is the full starting grid for the 2014 Indianapolis 500, the times and the speeds for each driver in the field.
|Starting Spot||Driver/ Manufacturer||Qualifying Time||Speed (MPH)|
|1||Ed Carpenter, Chevy||2:35.7992||231.067|
|2||James Hinchcliffe, Honda||2:35.9528||230.839|
|3||Will Power, Chevy||2:36.0488||230.697|
|4||Helio Castroneves, Chevy||2:36.0812||230.649|
|5||Simon Pagenaud, Honda||2:36.1049||230.614|
|6||Marco Andretti, Honda||2:36.1526||230.544|
|7||Carlos Munoz, Honda||2:36.4224||230.146|
|8||Josef Newgarden, Honda||2:36.5946||229.893|
|9||JR Hildebrand, Chevy||2:37.3938||228.726|
|10||Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevy||2:35.8396||231.007|
|11||Scott Dixon, Chevy||2:35.8930||230.928|
|12||Kurt Busch, Honda||2:35.9913||230.782|
|13||Jack Hawksworth, Honda||2:36.1779||230.506|
|14||Justin Wilson, Honda||2:36.3480||230.256|
|15||Mikhail Aleshin, Honda||2:36.4881||230.049|
|16||Tony Kanaan, Chevy||2:36.5750||229.922|
|17||Sebastien Bourdais, Chevy||2:36.6259||229.847|
|18||Oriol Servia, Honda||2:36.6905||229.752|
|19||Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda||2:36.7132||229.719|
|20||Graham Rahal, Honda||2:36.7756||229.628|
|21||Carlos Huertas, Honda||2:37.0328||229.251|
|22||Pippa Mann, Honda||2:37.0521||229.223|
|23||Takuma Sato, Honda||2:37.0671||229.201|
|24||Alex Tagliani, Honda||2:37.1038||229.148|
|25||Townsend Bell, Chevy||2:37.1990||229.009|
|26||Charlie Kimball, Chevy||2:37.2376||228.953|
|27||Jacques Villeneuve, Honda||2:37.2400||228.949|
|28||James Davison, Chevy||2:37.2977||228.865|
|29||Martin Plowman, Honda||2:37.3333||228.814|
|30||Ryan Briscoe, Chevy||2:37.4028||228.713|
|31||Sage Karam, Chevy||2:37.5931||228.436|
|32||Sebastian Saavedra, Chevy||2:37.8335||228.088|
|33||Buddy Lazier, Chevy||2:37.9501||227.920|
Driver to Watch: Juan Pablo Montoya
While there will be many eyes focused on NASCAR veteran Kurt Busch and the other top IndyCar talents, fans can’t underestimate the skill of Juan Pablo Montoya behind the wheel of one of the Penske cars in Sunday’s Indy 500.
As the 2000 winner of the Indianapolis 500, it has been a long time since Montoya has taken the checkered flag at the track, but he finally has the equipment needed with Team Penske to accomplish the feat again.
Montoya knows the track and knows how important this race is to the sport.
When asked about his return to the historic track, Montoya spoke to Tim Tuttle of Sports Illustrated about his thoughts on the whole situation:
I'll tell you the truth, I was really surprised when I came on Sunday (for the first Indy 500 practice day). I went out and said, 'I'm going to take my time.' Full throttle, I lifted on (turns) three and four, second lap, third lap, fourth lap, I'm good. It was nice.
One of the cool things about being with Team Penske, they do such a good job with the cars. The experience here is so good. They really know what they're doing. It makes it so easy for us, it really does.
As great as it is for the sport to have a polarizing star like Montoya running in a good car toward the front of the pack, he was far from perfect on the track leading up to the event. The entire team must improve the handling of the car if they want to win this race.
Montoya took to Twitter to talk about his redemption on the track and how he wants more:
Well I guess I redeem myself today. 2nd fastest for the day and start P10. Got to work hard tomorrow to get the car where it needs to be.— Juan Pablo Montoya (@jpmontoya) May 18, 2014
Nate Ryan of USA Today talked about Montoya’s joy being back at Indianapolis:
Juan Pablo Montoya disappointed with quals but borderline giddy talking Indianapolis and the race. Can tell he's happy to be here. #indycar— Nate Ryan (@nateryan) May 18, 2014
There are few drivers with as much confidence as Montoya, and the strong runs in practice sessions should be a great sign of just how well his car is performing. With a few finishing touches, his car could contend for a win.
As good as the car has been and as ready as the Penske team is for the event, Montoya must race smart and save the aggressiveness for the latter stages of the race.
If Montoya doesn’t wreck his car moving through traffic, he will contend for the victory at the end of the race.
Predicted Finish: Top Five
*Stats via IndyCar.com.