Indy 500 2011: 10 Questions Fans Want Answered at the Brickyard
The starting field is set, practice is complete and fans everywhere have some lingering questions going into the 100th anniversary running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 29th.
Here are 10 questions that are running through my mind—and probably a few other people’s minds as well.
Is This Danica Patrick’s Last Indy 500?
With two years of problems trying to qualifying her Andretti Autosports Go Daddy car at Indy, some growing success in NASCAR’s Nationwide Series and a contract expiring at season’s end, there is speculation that the Go Daddy girl is making the leap to NASCAR—a move that she hasn’t confirmed, but she hasn’t outright denied it either.
Can the “Little Guys” Hang with the “Big Boys?"
If you look at the “fast nine” from Indy 500 qualifying day, teams like Sam Schmidt Racing, Sarah Fisher Racing, Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb/Agajanian and Panther Racing are up front with the usual suspects: Target/Chip Ganassi Racing, Newman/Haas Racing and Team Penske (noticeably absent—Andretti Autosport).
It’s been a trend in NASCAR this season—let’s see if it can carry over to the Indy 500.
Will Tony Kanaan Ever Win an Indy 500?
One of the best racers since Michael Andretti to be shut out at Indy, Kanaan struggled to find a ride early this season, but has come back with some good runs and sits sixth in points.
Can Helio Castroneves Become One of Indy’s Greatest Drivers?
Castroneves is one victory away from joining the elite group of A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears as a four-time Indy 500 winner—can he do it this year?
What Happened to Andretti Autosport?
Only one of the team's five cars (John Andretti in 17th) qualified on the first day, and only three of the five teams qualified for the Indy 500 (the ride for Ryan Hunter-Reay was purchased, and Mike Conway, fourth in points with the team’s only win, isn’t even in the race).
What happened to this high-powered team?
Which of the Rookies Has the Most Potential?
Five rookies—JR Hildebrand, James Hinchcliffe, Jay Howard, Charlie Kimball and Pippa Mann—qualified for the 500 this year, each with a different racing pedigree.
Mann has had success at Indy before; she’s the only woman to win a pole at the track (in Indy Lights last year), and Hildebrand is highest in points right now—16th for Panther Racing.
Can Paul Tracy Avenge Past Indy Heartbreaks?
The 42-year-old Canadian has been here before—and felt the wrath of Indy. He has been coming to Indy since 1992, and after some dismal finishes (20th, 30th, 23rd and 24th from 1992 to 1995), two long-term absences (seven years each) improved his finishes, including a controversial second-place finish in 2002.
Can the Women Break Away from the “Next Danica” Tag?
The woman with the best chance to do so is Simona de Silvestro, sitting just outside the top 10 in points with two top-10 finishes this season.
Ana Beatriz and Pippa Mann have both won in Indy Lights competition, and each driver brings something to the table that differentiates them from Patrick.
Can Dario Franchitti Win at Indy Again?
He has won two of the last four Indy 500s, and a win would tie him with Castroneves with three.
Who’s Stronger: Penske, Ganassi or Andretti?
Andretti Autosport just about took itself out of the competition with its poor showing in Indy qualifying, but they can’t be counted out—the team does have a win earlier in the season.
For Indy, however, the competition looks to be between Penske and Ganassi, with Ganassi having the edge going into the race.