The IZOD IndyCar Series has the opportunity this weekend in Baltimore to have its 11th different winner in 16 races this season, which would tie a mark set in 2000 and 2001, in the old CART days.
Here’s who has won thus far in the exciting and often unpredictable 2013 season:
- James Hinchcliffe, Andretti Autosport, St. Petersburg (first career win), Brazil, Iowa
- Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport, Barber, Milwaukee
- Takuma Sato, A.J. Foyt Enterprises, Long Beach (first career win)
- Tony Kanaan, KV Racing Technology – SH, Indianapolis 500 (first Indianapolis 500 win)
- Mike Conway, Dale Coyne Racing, Detroit 1
- Simon Pagenaud, Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports, Detroit 2 (first career win)
- Helio Castroneves, Team Penske, Texas
- Scott Dixon, Target Chip Ganassi Racing, Pocono, Toronto 1 & 2
- Charlie Kimball, Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing, Mid-Ohio (first career win)
- Will Power, Team Penske, Sonoma
So, who are the likely candidates to be lucky number 11 and tie that mark this weekend? Here’s some gentlemen (and women) to watch:
- Dario Franchitti, Target Chip Ganassi Racing. He’s driving too well to have not yet broke his winless drought of late, which dates to Indianapolis 2012 overall and on a road or street course since Toronto of 2011. He’s as fast as ever with four pole positions and has finished third four times this year. He just feels due.
- Justin Wilson, Dale Coyne Racing. He missed Baltimore in 2011 due to injury and started seventh and finished 17th a year ago. But he has two street course podiums this year (Long Beach and Detroit 1) and has been particularly on form of late.
- Sebastien Bourdais, Dragon Racing. A double podium in Toronto was needed for both driver and team and he’s been better since the engineering change to Tom Brown. A Firestone Fast Six qualifier at Baltimore a year ago, knows his way around the circuit and a solid upset pick.
- Simona de Silvestro, KV Racing Technology. You might not think of her off the top but she starred at Baltimore two years ago and wasn’t able to show herself last year with the woefully underpowered Lotus engine. In need of a big weekend beyond the midpack, and with St. Petersburg as her best race this year, she could surprise this weekend.
- Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. He and teammate James Jakes have each had a second-place on a street course this year but I’d peg Rahal a bit higher this weekend as he was woefully unlucky not to win, or podium, after a sensational qualifying performance at Baltimore in 2011. The key as ever for him and the RLL team is nailing the setup off the truck, because far too often in 2013 they’ve been playing catch-up. A few races into working with new engineer Neil Fife, formerly of Dragon, things might be turning around for young Rahal as he has one of his better weekends of the year last weekend in Sonoma.
- E.J. Viso, Venezuela-Andretti Autosport-HVM. A fringe entry here but Viso’s qualifying efforts earlier this year were very stout. Any chance of a win this weekend would come with a solid run on Saturday. After a lackluster stretch of races, this sort of feels like a weekend where Viso could pull a proverbial rabbit out of his hat.
Max Verstappen admitted that he felt disappointed with himself after crashing out of Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix in his second race for Red Bull.
Two weeks on from his stunning victory in Spain, Verstappen endured a tough weekend in Monaco that saw him suffer three crashes.
A shunt in qualifying meant he had to start the race from the pit lane, but he made the most of the inclement conditions early on by switching tire to run inside the top 10.
However, a mistake at Massenet on lap 34 sent him careering into the barrier and out of the race, ending his hopes of a fightback to points.
“Disappointed in myself and disappointed for the team, because they worked very hard to get the car ready and I didn’t give them the result they deserved today,” Verstappen said.
“We were in a good way, we were in the points and to start from the pit lane and end in the points would have been very good, but I learned from this and hopefully we can come back stronger in Canada.
“It was pretty tricky especially in the beginning of the race it was a very slippery track. It got better and better, the track was drying, and I think from then on we had great pace and I was overtaking cars, charging through the field and everything felt well.
“Then we put the softs on and I locked up. Unfortunately I went a bit off-line and of course then you arrive in the wet area and I was a passenger from there on.
“That’s racing in the end, it can go up and down very quickly but you shouldn’t back off because of this you should keep positive, keep pushing.
“I learn a lot from those moments as well and I’m already focusing on Canada now and leaving Monaco behind.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay and Townsend Bell’s hopes of winning the 100th Indianapolis 500 for Andretti Autosport were dashed after coming together in the pit lane when battling for the lead of the race.
Following a caution period called for crashes involving Mikhail Aleshin and Conor Daly, the majority of the field dived into the pits for the fifth round of pit stops.
Both Hunter-Reay and Bell had been running inside the top three before the caution, battling with Tony Kanaan, James Hinchcliffe and Helio Castroneves for the lead of the race.
On the race off pit road, Bell’s car was released into the path of the oncoming Castroneves, resulting in contact.
Bell’s car was sent into Hunter-Reay just as he was released, leaving both pointing the pit wall nose-first.
Only one crew member was in the line of fire, but he managed to jump out of the way quickly. A tire was also hit, but did not come off the ground, meaning no-one in the area was hurt.
Bell was assessed a penalty for the incident, unsafe release:
Andretti was forced to wheel both of its cars back to their pit boxes, costing both drivers time before they were sent back out again. At the time of writing, Hunter-Reay and Bell now run P25 and P26 respectively and are battling to remain on the lead lap.
INDIANAPOLIS – Thus far the quartet of Ryan Hunter-Reay, James Hinchcliffe, Townsend Bell and Josef Newgarden have had the strongest cars in the 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.
But it’s Helio Castroneves who now leads at the 100-lap mark, as he did last year, following the fourth round of pit stops. He’s in search of his fourth Indy 500 win.
Prior to Lap 100, Bryan Clauson was out front. Clauson went a lap down early and has not made his fourth pit stop yet in the No. 88 Cancer Treatment Centers of America Honda for Dale Coyne Racing. But courtesy of a typically-cagey Coyne strategy play, he was nearly out front for this historic moment in the longest Indianapolis 500 outing of his three starts thus far.
There’s already been 31 lead changes – other leaders include Hunter-Reay who’s led a race high 44 laps, Hinchcliffe, who’s led 26, then Will Power (8 laps led), Bell (8), Castroneves (6), Clauson (3), Newgarden (2), Sage Karam (2) and Carlos Munoz (1).
Just prior to halfway, Sage Karam’s strong run from 23rd up to seventh came to a crashing halt in Turn 2. The driver of the No. 24 Gas Monkey Energy Chevrolet for DRR-Kingdom Racing appeared to get pinched in Turn 1 by Bell – who also made a similarly tight move on Newgarden – then hit the wall and careened through to Turn 2.
Karam’s accident means he’s the second car officially out of the race, along withe defending race winner Juan Pablo Montoya.
At Lap 100 the order is below:
Juan Pablo Montoya will not be the first driver to go back-to-back as winner of the Indianapolis 500 since 2002.
The defending Indy 500 winner wrecked out of the 100th running of the race on Lap 64. Montoya’s silver No. 2 Chevrolet got loose in Turn 2, spun around and hit the outside wall with his left front.
“I just got loose and lost the car,” Montoya told ABC. “It’s just difficult, people were doing a lot dumb things on the restarts and I felt it was not necessary. So I took my time and started coming through the field and the car felt pretty good. It just stepped out of nowhere.”
Montoya, who started 17th, was running in 19th when the single-car accident occurred. The two-time winner of the “500” was cleared and released from the infield care center.
The crash caused the second caution of the race after an early debris caution.