Indy 500 Lineup 2022: Starting Grid and Breakdown of Sunday's Thrilling Event

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMay 26, 2022

Indy 500 Lineup 2022: Starting Grid and Breakdown of Sunday's Thrilling Event

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    The 33-car field at the Indianapolis 500 will be led to the green flag by one of the most successful open-wheel racing drivers.

    Six-time IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon secured the pole position for Sunday's race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

    Dixon will be joined by Alex Palou and Rinus VeeKay on the three-car front row. All of those drivers are trying to keep alive a winning streak by foreign drivers at the Indy 500.

    There have been five international winners in the last five years at Indy. Takuma Sato won twice in 2017 and 2020. Helio Castroneves won last year's event. 

    Castroneves starts deep in the field on Row 9 alongside Colton Herta and Scott McLaughlin.

    Herta is one of the sport's young drivers looking to make an impact on the most notable race on the IndyCar Series calendar. 

    Palou, VeeKay and Pato O'Ward will also try to usher in a younger era of winners at Indy. The last five Indy 500 champions were in their 30s or 40s. 

Indy 500 Starting Grid

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    Row 1: Scott Dixon (pole), Alex Palou, Rinus VeeKay

    Row 2: Ed Carpenter, Marcus Ericsson, Tony Kanaan

    Row 3: Pato O'Ward, Felix Rosenqvist, Romain Grosjean

    Row 4: Takuma Sato, Will Power, Jimmie Johnson

    Row 5: David Makulas, Josef Newgarden, Santino Ferrucci

    Row 6: Simon Pagenaud, JR Hildebrand, Conor Daly

    Row 7: Callum Ilott, Alexander Rossi, Graham Rahal

    Row 8: Sage Karam, Marco Andretti, Devlin DeFrancesco

    Row 9: Colton Herta, Scott McLaughlin, Helio Castroneves

    Row 10: Kyle Kirkwood, Dalton Kellett, Juan Pablo Montoya

    Row 11: Christian Lundgaard, Jack Harvey, Stefan Wilson

Will Winner Continue to Come from First Three Rows?

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    The last five Indianapolis 500 winners started on the first three rows. 

    Takuma Sato won from the first two rows in 2017 and 2020, Will Power was on the front row before his triumph in 2018, Simon Pagenaud went from pole-sitter to winner in 2019, and Helio Castroneves started eighth in 2021. 

    The obvious answer to that trend continuing would be yes because the fastest cars will not lose a ton of power between qualifying and Sunday's race. 

    Scott Dixon clocked in a qualifying speed over 234 miles per hour. The first four drivers on the starting grid hit the 233 miles per hour mark.

    The top speed drop-off from Row 1 to Row 5 is three miles per hour. That difference could close during the race as cars find more long-term power, but the fast numbers are worth noting based on the recent trends at Indy. 

    If the front-three-row trend continues, Dixon and Tony Kanaan would likely be in the best positions to win because they are previous champions. 

    Alex Palou and Rinus VeeKay would be the next best candidates to win since they could jump out to the lead from the front row and control the race. 

    Palou has four top 10 finishes on the IndyCar Series circuit this season, and VeeKay led the most laps in Birmingham in April. 

    Making the jump from Indy 500 contender to winner is tough, which is why the more experienced drivers, like Dixon and Kanaan, may be favored at the beginning of the race. 

Can a Young IndyCar Star Win the Race?

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    The Indy 500 has been dominated by experienced racers in the last five years. 

    Since Alexander Rossi's win as a rookie in 2016, the winners have been in their 30s and 40s, and they were some of the most established open-wheel drivers in the world. 

    The stage is set for some of the young stars of IndyCar to take over on Sunday. Palou and VeeKay's presences on the front row is an example of that. 

    Pato O'Ward recently won on the IndyCar Series circuit, and he starts from seventh position. He is the other top candidate from the group of young drivers to break through on Sunday.

    Colton Herta is the young driver with the most attention on him at the moment because of his deal with McLaren's Formula 1 team to be a developmental racer. 

    Herta is buried deep in the qualifying order on the inside of Row 9, and he needs to put in a strong race just to get into contention. 

    It will take a near-perfect race for any of these drivers to win, especially with a ton of experience laced throughout the field. 

    Four previous Indy 500 champions start in the top 12, and seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson begins the race on the outside of Row 4. 

    Palou, VeeKay and O'Ward have the talent to get through the field to the lead, but they should expect a battle to keep it because of the moves the veteran drivers could pull down the stretch.