Indy 500 Lineup 2017: Starting Grid and Breakdown of Sunday's Thrilling Event

Mike ChiariFeatured ColumnistMay 25, 2017

Scott Dixon, of New Zealand, drives into turn one during a practice session for the Indianapolis 500 IndyCar auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Friday, May 19, 2017 in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Darron Cummings/Associated Press

On the heels of Scott Dixon capturing the pole in the Fast Nine portion of Indianapolis 500 qualifying, the field and starting grid for the 101st running of the Indy 500 are officially set.

This year's field is stacked with top-level talent, and it is difficult to point to any single driver as a clear favorite, especially since a different driver has won the 500-mile race in each of the past six years.

Here is a look at how the 33 qualified drivers will line up for the start of the 2017 Indianapolis 500, as well as further analysis regarding some of the race's top contenders.

2017 Indianapolis 500 Starting Grid
Starting PositionDriver
1Scott Dixon
2Ed Carpenter
3Alexander Rossi
4Takuma Sato
5Fernando Alonso
6J.R. Hildebrand
7Tony Kanaan
8Marco Andretti
9Will Power
10Ryan Hunter-Reay
11Ed Jones
12Oriol Servia
13Mikhail Aleshin
14Graham Rahal
15Max Chilton
16Charlie Kimball
17James Hinchcliffe
18Juan Pablo Montoya
19Helio Castroneves
20Jay Howard
21Sage Karam
22Josef Newgarden
23Simon Pagenaud
24Carlos Munoz
25Gabby Chavez
26Conor Daly
27Jack Harvey
28Pippa Mann
29Spencer Pigot
30Buddy Lazier
31Sebastian Saavedra
32Zach Veach
33James Davison
IndyCar.com

Top Drivers to Watch

Scott Dixon

For the third time in his illustrious career, New Zealand's Scott Dixon captured the pole for the Indianapolis 500.

His performance this year is undoubtedly his most impressive, however, as his four-lap average was the fastest in more than two decades, according to Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Twitter:

Dixon was so impressive during qualifying that even fellow driver Graham Rahal couldn't stop himself from marveling:

Dixon is a former Indy 500 winner, having taken the checkered flag in 2008, and he has a long history of success at IMS.

Including his victory, Dixon has finished inside the top 10 on 10 different occasions in the Indy 500.

He came in fourth and eighth in the past two years, respectively, and based on how his car looked during qualifying, there is every reason to believe he will be in the mix and vying for a win once again this year.

      

Fernando Alonso

Drivers from other racing series often try their hand at running for glory in the Indianapolis 500, and the biggest example of that in 2017 is Fernando Alonso.

The Spaniard is a Formula One star with 32 career race wins and two world championships to his credit.

Despite having no IndyCar experience, Alonso made the Fast Nine and qualified fifth, which suggests he will be a contender Sunday.

Per BBC's Andrew Benson, however, Alonso is tempering expectations and not getting too excited about his run:

While Alonso has plenty to overcome in terms of competing with IndyCar veterans, he is a longtime racer in his own right.

He also has quality equipment driving for Andretti Autosport, which should allow him to keep pace with the top competition.

     

Juan Pablo Montoya

With two career Indianapolis 500 wins to his credit, Juan Pablo Montoya is one of only two active drivers to have won the race on multiple occasions along with Helio Castroneves' three.

The Colombia native was victorious two years ago, and in four career starts at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, he has finished fifth or better on three occasions.

Montoya didn't qualify particularly well as he will start 18th, but he isn't overly concerned, according to Jim Ayello of the Indianapolis Star: "I don't play big into qualifying. I never have here. I proved it two years ago when I won, and after eight laps, I was dead last. It doesn't really matter where you qualify."

He qualified 15th when he won the Indy 500 in 2015, and an 18th-place start shouldn't do much to hinder his chances.

Montoya made his season debut in the IndyCar Grand Prix with a 10th-place finish, which should give him some momentum heading toward the 500.

With winning experience at IMS on his side, Montoya is among the drivers to beat provided he doesn't run into any mechanical issues.