What to watch for: 99th Indianapolis 500


INDIANAPOLIS – Today’s the day. It’s Indianapolis 500 race day.

Few further words need be said.

Alas, because you’re reading this and I wrote it last night, here’s some things to look for in today’s 99th running of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”


From a purely numerical, percentage standpoint, a winner outside of the Team Penske (four cars), Chip Ganassi Racing (five) and Andretti Autosport (five) camps would be a surprise. Yes, the remaining eight teams have 19 cars, but the established “big three” have 14 of 33 cars – or a staggering 42.42 percent of the field.

But with Bryan Herta Autosport (2011) and KVSH Racing (2013) having won in the last four years, there’s proof it’s not impossible if all the dominos fall correctly.


The last two Indianapolis 500 champions have been first-timers in Tony Kanaan and Ryan Hunter-Reay. The previous four were repeat winners.

Meanwhile there hasn’t been a ‘500 race winner under 30 since Scott Dixon, then 27, in 2008. We touched on the generational divide in a preview piece this week. We’ll see whether it comes to fruition.


It’s easy to forget the Indianapolis 500 is part of the regular Verizon IndyCar Series season, especially given its points value is double any other race save for the season finale, and the prestige of winning makes a career and a lifetime. Alas, we’ve had five winners in as many races to start the year, and a sixth winner would keep the streak of no 2015 repeats alive.

While first- and second-starting Scott Dixon and Will Power have won this year, as has ninth-place starting Josef Newgarden, the remainder of the front third of the field is yet to win in 2015. Hunter-Reay won this race from 19th last year – proof that it can be done even without an excellent starting position.


Watch these numbers very carefully: the estimated fuel windows for pit stops. Jon Beekhuis, who will be one of ABC’s three pit reporters on Sunday (and also will serve as an NBCSN pit reporter in the second half of the season), has these numbers outlined:

Thus far it’s looked as though the Hondas will have better fuel mileage, but the more slippery Chevy offsets that edge. Full pit road trips – pit in to pit out, with stops – are estimated to take 39 seconds, just under the time it takes for a full lap.

As ever, you can save fuel under yellow… but yellows might be hard to come by. Last year’s race went the first 149 laps without a yellow.


The angst and anxiousness of last week and last Sunday has, in recent days, simmered down.

The weather forecast has improved.

The stands will be packed.

The race is set to go on.

If you were to ask me who I want to win, I’d go full Gone with the Wind on you and reply, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

Here’s what I do want: 200 mostly clean laps in the books with no injuries, 33 drivers and crews, and all officials and fans coming home clean as a whistle.

Let’s rock and roll.

Kyle Larson wins third consecutive High Limit Sprint race at Eagle Raceway, Rico Abreu second again

Larson High Limit Eagle
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It took four attempts for Kyle Larson to win his first High Limit Sprint Car Series race in the series he co-owns with brother-in-law Brad Sweet, but once he found victory lane, he has been undefeated with his win at Eagle (Nebraska) Raceway. For the second week, Abreu led early only to fall prey to Larson.

The win was Larson’s third straight victory and the fifth consecutive top-five, giving him a perfect sweep of the season after finishing 10th in last year’s inaugural race at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Indiana.

Larson started third behind Abreu and Brent Marks but was embroiled in a fierce battle with Anthony Macri for third during the first dozen laps. Larson slipped by Macri in traffic until a red flag waved for a flip by Lachlan McHugh.

Meanwhile at the front of the pack, Marks retook the lead from Abreu on Lap 18. Larson followed one lap later and then caution waved again. Tyler Courtney lost power and fell to 24th after starting eighth.

Marks scooted away on the restart but tragedy struck in Lap 26. Leading the race, Marks hit a pothole in Turn 1, bicycled and then flipped, handing the lead to Larson.

Abreu caught Larson again during the final laps and in a reprise of their battle at Tri-City Speedway, the two threw sliders at one another for several laps until Larson built some separation and ran away to the checkers.

“I didn’t feel like my pace in [Turns] 1 & 2 slowed down a ton,” Larson said from victory lane. “I missed it once there and then I saw his nose in 3 & 4. I didn’t know if he nailed the bottom that well behind me and I think he might have slid me in the next corner, so he was definitely on the top.

“I was nervous to move up there because my car was really pogoing up in the entry of 1. I got up just in time, made a few mistakes and he threw a couple more sliders at me but he was just a little too far back and I was able to squirt around him. Then I really had to commit to hitting my marks – back my effort down a bit to avoid mistakes.”

After leading early, Abreu fell back as far as sixth, but faith in his car kept hope alive.

“I just needed to do a few things a few laps before I did and fix some angles, then my car got a whole lot better,” Abreu said. “I’m thankful for this team; they do an amazing job. They don’t give up on me. I know my car is going to be there right at the end of these races, so it’s just the discipline of being patient.”

For Abreu, it was his third near-miss this season. He was leading at Lakeside in the 2023 opener until a tire went flat in the closing laps and he lost the lead to Larson late in the Tri-City Speedway race. Abreu has finished sixth or better in his last three High Limit races with each result being progressively better until his pair of runner-up results.

Third-place finisher Scelzi was the hard charger, advancing from 17th.

“I had a very specific plan; don’t go near [the hole in Turn 1],” Scelzi said. “It worked out. No one wanted to start on the top. I think I gained a couple of rows there on the choose cone and ran the middle, which seemed to be better than right around the bottom.”

Michael “Buddy” Kofoid in fourth and Macri rounded out the top five.

World of Outlaws star and former NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne was one of 41 entrants, but he was not among the 26 starters. He failed to advance to the Main after finishing eighth in the B Main and seventh in his heat.

Feature Results

A Feature (40 Laps): 1. 57-Kyle Larson[4]; 2. 24-Rico Abreu[1]; 3. 18-Giovanni Scelzi[17]; 4. 71-Michael Kofoid[5]; 5. 39M-Anthony Macri[3]; 6. 9-Chase Randall[9]; 7. 26-Zeb Wise[14]; 8. 1X-Jake Bubak[15]; 9. 8-Aaron Reutzel[10]; 10. 14D-Corey Day[18]; 11. 11-Cory Eliason[12]; 12. 5T-Ryan Timms[11]; 13. 88-Austin McCarl[13]; 14. 21H-Brady Bacon[22]; 15. 48-Danny Dietrich[16]; 16. 7S-Robbie Price[19]; 17. 21-Brian Brown[23]; 18. 22-Riley Goodno[26]; 19. 52-Blake Hahn[25]; 20. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr[21]; 21. 3J-Dusty Zomer[6]; 22. 14-Cole Macedo[7]; 23. 19-Brent Marks[2]; 24. 7BC-Tyler Courtney[8]; 25. 25-Lachlan McHugh[20]; 26. 53-Jack Dover[24]

2023 High Limit Sprint Car Series

Race 1: Giovanni Scelzi wins at Lakeside Speedway
Race2: Anthony Macri wins at 34 Raceway
Race 3: Kyle Larson wins at Wayne County Speedway
Race 4: Kyle Larson wins at Tri-City Speedway