Home Editor's Picks Indianapolis 500 Preview: Ten Things To Watch For At Sunday’s Race

Indianapolis 500 Preview: Ten Things To Watch For At Sunday’s Race

NTT IndyCar Series' Annual Showdown Is Anyone's For The Taking

by Brian Ledford

The “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” – the Indianapolis 500 Presented by Gainbridge– is set for Sunday morning and, per tradition, there’s plenty of intrigue heading into the 200-lap annual fixture of the NTT IndyCar Series.

Photo Credit: INDYCAR – James Black

The green-flag drops at 11:45 am at the 2.5-mile oval and the field of 33 drivers are champing at the bit to claim a coveted spot in the winner’s circle. This is the 108th running of the open-wheeled showcase.

With race-day speeds in excess of over 220 MPH, this year’s entrants contain plenty of former Indy 500 champions combined with a plethora of veterans that look to take a first-time sip of milk with victory.

Whether one is a faithful follower of the IndyCar series or a casual day-of viewer, the race is one that is internationally watched due to the drama that unfolds during the intense test of endurance.

Pole sitter Scott McLaughlin (Team Penske) looks to win from initial green flag to finishing checkered, but the process won’t be easy.

Here are 10 things to watch for this weekend.

1) McLaughlin’s Run from The Pole – The New Zealander claimed his first-ever Indy 500 pole last weekend and aims to collect his first checkered flags at the event. Through four official series races this season, he current sits sixth in overall points (88) with one overall win (Alabama). Although his past highest benchmark at the race was last year’s fourteenth-place finish, the power of Team Penske puts the 30-year-old as a prime contender for victory.

“Welcome to the party,” McLaughlin said after claiming the pole. “The Pennzoil Chevy was unreal. There’s so much pride in being able to do it. Indy hasn’t been kind to me, and a lot of it was my doing, but I’m working hard.”

Photo Credit: INDYCAR – James Black

2) Points Leader Palou Seeks First Indy 500 Win – Defending series champion Alex Palou (Chip Ganassi Racing) currently holds the top spot in points through four races (152) and starts fourteenth Sunday. He has finished in the Top 5 in all four IndyCar races this year and won the series’ last event at the Indianapolis Road Course a few weeks ago. His prior best finish at the Indy 500 was second in 2021 and looks to snare his first trophy Sunday.

3) Power Aims for Second Career Win – Veteran driver Will Power (Team Penske) starts Sunday in the middle of the front row and looks for his first win since 2018. The 43-year-old Australian sits second in the current points standings (140) thanks to finishing runner-up in three of four races this season. Maintaining traction in the points race against Palou is the primary goal this weekend, and with a higher start against the leader, he could push himself into the top position with a podium finish, but a second Indy 500 win is coverted.

4) Dixon’s Push for Continued LegacyScott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing), the current driver with the most overall IndyCar race wins (56) has only one Indy 500 trophy in his portfolio (2008). The challenge for Dixon to win his second will be difficult this weekend with a starting position of 21st, the worst of his prior 22 Indy 500 starts. But if there ever was a driver to right the ship, it would be the 43-year-old Australian, who currently sits tied for third in the current standings (127) and can cut through a field in short-order with steady driving and a patient approach.

5) Newgarden’s Quest for Back-To-Backs – Josef Newgarden (Team Penske), the two-time NTT IndyCar series champ, claimed his first Indy 500 victory last year and seeks his second straight. He sits outside Row 1 Sunday for prime position. The current-winningest North American in the series is far back in the pack in the current points stands at #17 (61) with only one Top 5 finish through four races. A Sunday win would put him back in the spotlight after a bit of a drought.

6) Castroneves’ Desire to Win Fifth Borg-Warner – As the oldest driver competing this weekend (49), Helio Castroneves (Meyer Shank w/ Curb-Agajanian) has won four prior Indy 500’s, the last being in 2021. This is his first IndyCar race of the season, and the start finds him in the middle of Row 7, which will be a challenge. Yet the Brazilian remains a popular fan favorite and seeing how he progresses through the race will be a narrative to watch.

Photo Credit: INDYCAR – Chris Owens

7) Other Prior Indy 500 Winners In the Mix – Overall, there are eight prior Indy 500 winners competing this weekend. Alongside the previously mentioned Power, Dixon, Newgarden and Castroneves, other former winners include Ryan Hunter-Reay (2014), Alexander Rossi (2016), Takuma Sato (2017, 2020) and Marcus Ericsson (2022). With prime position, Rossi starts inside Row 2 and both Hunter-Reay and Sato start in Row 4. Don’t count out that quartet for a late push.

8) Rookies Set For First-Time Experience– There are six Indy 500 newcomers this Sunday, paced by Kyle Larson (Arrow McLaren Racing), who starts in Row 2 after an eye-opening qualifying round. Other rookies to watch are current full-time series competitors Marcus Armstrong and Linus Lundqvist, both Chip Ganassi Racing teammates, who respectively currently sit 11th and 13th in the current points standings.

9) Outsiders Looking In – In this talented field of 33, there are a few that seek first-time Indy 500 win, thanks to starting-grid placement. This includes Santino Ferrucci (A.J. Foyt Enterprises), who starts in Row 2, and the Row 3 line-up of Rinus Veekay (Ed Carpenter Racing), Pato O’ Ward (Arrow McLaren) and Felix Rosenqvist (Meyer Shank Racing). Colton Herta (Andretti Global w/ Curb Agajania) sits tied for third in the current points standings (127) and starts inside Row 5 and should move up the field quickly.

10) Legge’s Return to The Indy 500 – The lone female driver this weekend, Katherine Legge (Dale Coyne Racing) makes her fourth career Indy 500 appearance this weekend, starting in the final row. The 43-year-old Brit raced in 2012 & 2013, placing in the mid-20s. After a ten-year layoff, she made a return last year and will look to open eyes this weekend with a solid finish.

For more info on the NTT IndyCar Series, go to their official website.  

By trade, he is a six-time, regional Emmy Award-winning news videographer/editor for KTVI/KPLR-TV. By hobby, he is a writer for Arch City Media, dating back to February 2014. Emphasis is on featuring and promoting local women's sports, but will cover anything that is not reported by traditional media outlets. Also a contributor to local concert reviews.

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