Indy 500 Lineup 2020: Full Starting Grid and Predictions for Top DriversAugust 23, 2020
Three months later than originally expected, the 2020 Indianapolis 500 is finally here. By late Sunday afternoon, one driver will be drinking the celebratory milk after crossing the finish line first in one of the most illustrious events in all of motorsports.
Postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Indy 500 is being held in a month other than May for the first time in its history. This is the 104th running of the race, which was first held in 1911.
Over the past nine years, there have been nine different winners of the event. Six of those drivers are in this year's field. Meanwhile, Helio Castroneves is trying to become only the fourth driver to win the race four times, a feat that's only been accomplished by A.J. Foyt, Al Unser Sr. and Rick Mears.
Here's a look at the starting lineup for this year's race, along with predictions for several top contenders.
Row 1: Marco Andretti (231.068 mph), Scott Dixon (231.051), Takuma Sato (230.725)
Row 2: Rinus Veekay (230.704), Ryan Hunter-Reay (230.648), James Hinchcliffe (229.870)
Row 3: Alex Palou (229.676), Graham Rahal (229.380), Alexander Rossi (229.234)
Row 4: Colton Herta (230.775), Marcus Ericsson (230.566), Spencer Pigot (230.539)
Row 5: Josef Newgarden (230.296), Felix Rosenqvist (230.254), Pato O'Ward (230.213)
Row 6: Ed Carpenter (230.211), Zach Veach (229.961), Conor Daly (229.955)
Row 7: Santino Ferrucci (229.924), Jack Harvey (229.861), Oliver Askew (229.760)
Row 8: Will Power (229.701), Tony Kanaan (229.154), Dalton Kellett (228.880)
Row 9: Simon Pagenaud (228.836), Fernando Alonso (228.768), James Davison (228.747)
Row 10: Helio Castroneves (228.373), Charlie Kimball (227.758), Max Chilton (227.303)
Row 11: Sage Karam (227.099), JR Hildebrand (226.341), Ben Hanley (222.917)
Predictions for Top Contenders
Andretti Has Another Strong Indy Showing but Doesn't Win
In 2006, Marco Andretti finished second in his Indianapolis 500 debut. And although he's never come that close to winning again, he's fared well in the race over the years, finishing third three times.
But Andretti has never had a starting position as good as he does this year, as he became the first member of his family to earn the pole for the race since his grandfather, Mario, in 1988. That should keep him among the top contenders, giving him the chance to become the first Andretti to win the event since his grandfather in 1969
However, in Friday's final practice, Andretti had the 28th-fastest time (221.314 mph). And with some strong competition alongside him in the front row and not far behind, it may be tough for Andretti to emerge as the winner.
Expect another top-five showing, but 2020 will be another year without an Andretti winning the Indy 500.
Sato Comes Up Just Short of 2nd Indy 500 Victory
Takuma Sato notched his first career Indianapolis 500 win in 2017, edging Helio Castroneves by 0.2011 seconds. He also had a strong showing in last year's race, working his way up from 14th on the grid to take third, his best finish at the race outside of his win.
This year, Sato has a strong starting position, as he's on the outside of the front row in third. He notched the fourth-fastest time (224.580 mph) in Friday's final practice, so everything is shaping up for Sato to have another strong showing at Indianapolis. Don't be surprised if the 43-year-old records his best result of the 2020 IndyCar Series season after notching four top-10 finishes in six races but not yet cracking the top five.
Sato will be near the front come the race's conclusion, and he will be pushing for the lead. But he will come up just short, finishing in second or third to just miss becoming a two-time Indy 500 champion.
Dixon Holds On, Wins Indy for 1st Time in More Than a Decade
Despite all the success that Scott Dixon has had throughout his IndyCar Series career, he's still only been victorious once at the Indianapolis 500. And that was in 2008, when he was still only a one-time series champion. Now, Dixon is a five-time champion with 46 career wins, which ranks third all time.
The New Zealander has been a top driver for the past decade, and he's off to a terrific start in the delayed 2020 season, winning three of the first six races and finishing in the top five in five of them.
During Friday's final practice, he had the second-fastest time of the session at 224.646 mph.
"It's been extremely refreshing to come to the 500 and have a damn fast car again," Dixon said, according to Nathan Brown of the Indianapolis Star. "That feels nice, for sure."
After 12 years without an Indy 500 win, on Sunday Dixon will become the 20th driver to win the race more than once and continue his impressive tear to open this unorthodox IndyCar Series season.