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What’s in a number: Six past winners go for another win in this year’s Indy 500

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It goes without saying that much of the Indianapolis 500 is predicated upon numbers.

There’s the fastest speed, the quickest time, how many hundreds of thousands of fans are in the stands and so much more.

As qualifying for the 102nd Running of the Indy 500 takes place this weekend, there’s one other key number for fans to keep in mind: the number “six.”

As in the number of past Indy 500 winners likely to be part of the 33-driver field for the May 27th Greatest Spectacle In Racing.

Consider this: nearly one-fifth of the lineup for next Sunday’s big race has previously reached victory lane, drank the celebratory bottle of milk, wore the horseshoe of flowers around their neck and became members of arguably the most exclusive club in motorsports: Indy 500 winners.

And some more than once – as many as three times, in the case of Helio Castroneves, who makes his ninth consecutive try to tie A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears for the most career Indy 500 wins (four).

Each of the other five former 500 winners in this year’s race have won it only once.

However, here’s another key number to keep in mind: 8, the number of combined wins by the six drivers in the last 17 editions of the 500, nearly a 50 percent showing.

And if you add the number of combined runner-up finishes between the six prior 500 winners, it’s six – meaning these six drivers have either won or finished second in 14 of the last 17 500s.

Who will potentially add to that win or runner-up total in this year’s race?

Here’s a quick breakdown of the six former 500 winners and their history in the big race:

Helio Castroneves

* Number of Indy 500 wins: 3 (2001, 2002, 2009)

* Number of total Indy 500 appearances: 17 (2001 through 2017)

* Next-best Indy 500 finish: 2nd (2003, 2014 and 2017)

Takuma Sato

* Number of Indy 500 wins: 1 (2017)

* Number of total Indy 500 appearances: 8 (2010 through 2017)

* Next-best Indy 500 finish: 13th (2013 and 2015)

Alexander Rossi

* Number of Indy 500 wins: 1 (2016)

* Number of total Indy 500 appearances: 2 (2016, 2017)

* Next-best Indy 500 finish: 7th (2017)

Ryan Hunter-Reay

* Number of Indy 500 wins: 1 (2014)

* Number of total Indy 500 appearances: 10 (2008 through 2017)

* Next-best Indy 500 finish: 3rd (2013)

Tony Kanaan

* Number of Indy 500 wins: 1 (2013)

* Number of total Indy 500 appearances: 16 (2002 through 2017)

* Next-best Indy 500 finish: 2nd (2004)

Scott Dixon

* Number of Indy 500 wins: 1 (2008)

* Number of total Indy 500 appearances: 15 (2003 through 2017)

* Next-best Indy 500 finish: 2nd (2007, 2012)

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MRTI: Road America Saturday notebook

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Saturday at Road America saw all three series of the Mazda Road to Indy complete in action again, with the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires concluding its weekend with Race 2, while the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda completing their opening races of the weekend.

Indy Lights saw its two main title combatants duel for the win, while Pro Mazda saw its Race 1 winner complete a weekend sweep. And in USF2000, the points leader continued a run of dominance on the way to victory.

Reports on all three series are below.

Indy Lights: Herta Outlasts O’Ward, Franzoni for Race 1 Win

Colton Herta celebrates winning Race 1 at Road America.

Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing’s Colton Herta took his fourth win in a row on Saturday at Road America, winning Race 1 after dueling with his Andretti Autosport stablemate Pato O’Ward and Juncos Racing’s Victor Franzoni.

Franzoni held the lead off the initial start, but Herta quickly worked his way up to second after starting third, and immediately mounted a challenge for the lead. After trying to pass Franzoni on the outside entering Turn 5 for two laps in a row, Herta finally was able to get around him on a third attempt, again taking the outside line on corner entry.

O’Ward then quickly moved into second after Franzoni dipped two wheels into the dirt in Turn 7, and O’Ward quickly charged toward Herta to battle for the lead. He, too, tried several times to pass Herta on the outside entering Turn 5, but was ultimately unable to do so and lost ground to Herta after he ran out of push-to-pass.

It left Herta alone up front to cruise to the win, his fourth in a row in 2018. O’Ward and Franzoni finished second and third, with the Belardi Auto Racing teammates Santi Urrutia and Aaron Telitz finishing fourth and fifth, with Ryan Norman and Dalton Kellett rounding out the field for Andretti Autosport.

Results are below. Race 1 will roll off at 10:50 a.m. on Sunday morning and will air at 10:00 p.m. ET on Sunday night. Pato O’Ward will start on the pole.

Pro Mazda: Malukas Completes Road America Sweep

David Malukas was in perfect form again in Race 2 at Road America. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

BN Racing’s David Malukas capped a perfect weekend at Road America by winning Race 2 from the pole.

Malukas did face a brief challenge from Juncos Racing’s Carlos Cunha off the start, with Cunha actually leading briefly into Turn 1. But, Malukas quickly retook the lead entering Turn 3, and was never headed from there.

Behind him, points leader Parker Thompson was involved in contact with Raul Guzman in Turn 5, with Guzman, making his Pro Mazda debut with RP Motorsport Racing, hitting the back of the Exclusive Autosport.

Guzman stalled on course, bringing out a full-course caution, while Thompson fell back as far as 12th when racing resumed on Lap 3. However, he quickly regrouped and put in maybe the best drive of the day, working his way up to fifth in the closing laps – including a pass on title rival Carlos Cunha – and putting him right behind a battle for third involving Rinus VeeKay, Thompson’s other title rival, and Harrison Scott.

Scott eventually passed VeeKay for third, which opened the door for Thompson, who got around VeeKay right after to take fourth.

Thompson was unable to get close enough to challenge Scott for third, but his charge to fourth remained mighty impressive.

Up front, though, no one had anything for Malukas, who led teammate Toby Sowery in a second straight 1-2 for BN Racing – Sowery made a slick three-wide pass to get around VeeKay and Cunha on the Lap 3 restart.

Scott was third, followed by Thompson and VeeKay in fourth and fifth, with Cunha finishing sixth.

Results are below. The race also featured a tribute to the late Jeff Green, a former Pro Mazda driver with Juncos. Peter Dempsey, part of the Juncos effort on the engineering side last year, drove Green’s No. 60 chassis from 2017, while Victory Franzoni piloted his No. 23 Dallara IL-15 alongside.

USF2000: Kirkwood Continues to Roll as He Dominates USF2000 Race 1

Kyle Kirkwood celebrates winning USF2000 Race 1 at Road America. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Cape Motorsports’ Kyle Kirkwood continued his dominant run in USF2000 by winning Race 1 on Saturday.

Starting on the outside of the front row, Kirkwood got around pole sitter Rasmus Lindh, from Pabst Racing Services, on the outside entering Turn 1 and never looked back, leading all 12 laps on his way to victory.

Lindh, meanwhile, was involved in a heated battle for second with his Pabst teammate Kaylen Frederick, along with ArmsUp Motorsports’ Keith Donegan and DEForce Racing’s Kory Enders. Lindh eventually fell back as far as fifth following a bobble, allowing all four to get by, though he did get back around Enders for fourth.

Ultimately, though, Frederick and Donegan emerged to finish second and third – it’s the second straight podium for Frederick, and the first for Donegan – with Lindh and Enders rounding out the top five.

The race was slowed twice for incidents involving Sabre Cook. Cook, running with Team Benik, spun into the gravel trap in the Carousel on Lap 3, but was able to rejoin. Later, on Lap 11, she ran wide exiting Turn 7 and spun back across the track as she entered Hurry Downs, making contact with the wall on the outside just before the entrance of Turn 8.

Cook climbed from the car under her own power, though her race did come to a premature end.

Results are below. Race 2 rolls off at 9:00 a.m. ET (8:00 a.m. local time), with Lindh again starting on the pole.

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