Today’s question: Who could sweep the Month of May by winning the GMR Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge?
Curt Cavin: The more I thought about this question, the more I liked it. Last night I made a list of drivers I think can win each race, and there aren’t as many on both lists as I expected there to be. Objectively, I counted seven. The two I kept coming back to were Pato O’Ward and Alex Palou, and I think the best answer is O’Ward. He is a former pole winner on the IMS road course and finished second last year in the “500.” But if pressed to choose between the two drivers, I’m going with Palou. He also was outstanding last year in the “500,” and I think the odds are better for Chip Ganassi Racing in the May 28 race than Arrow McLaren. But again, it’s pick your flavor. At least today, mine’s Palou.
Joey Barnes: I think you have to start with guys that can win the GMR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, mostly because of what might have been saved by the various teams to challenge the Indianapolis 500 – like event-specific superspeedway cars. I think you look at the obvious players like Will Power, a three-time winner of the GMR Grand Prix – five in total on the IMS road course – and a victory in the 2018 Indy 500. Then, the list continues with guys like Scott Dixon, who has been one of the most dominant drivers at the Speedway the past few years but has yet to capitalize on it to compliment his 2008 “500” win. And Dixon, a six-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion, has one win and three additional runner-up results on the IMS road course. Simon Pagenaud swept the Month of May in 2019, and despite moving to a new team in Meyer Shank Racing last year, delivered a runner-up on the IMS road course. Power and Dixon are probably on the short list this year of who could pull off an IMS sweep and no one would really be surprised. I don’t like playing in sandbox of no surprises, so I’ll go off the beaten path and say Colton Herta. Not only did he win last year’s rain-impacted GMR Grand Prix, he also has been someone that has shown flashes of pace at the 2.5-mile superspeedway but has yet to have a good result. At some point, you’re just due, and sometimes that comes in a big way. I am also basing it on how Andretti Autosport – and Herta, specifically – were able to fight at the end of the only previous oval race this year at Texas Motor Speedway, where he was in the mix late for the win and led four laps before finishing seventh. Toss in some new aero additions that should add more fight to the “500,” and it could be a recipe for Herta to pull off some magic in May.
Paul Kelly: Why not Marcus Ericsson? I’ll admit: I’m guilty of overlooking the Swede often for race predictions, probably because Ericsson is so steady and quick yet often unspectacular. He kind of sneaks up on you in races, a quality that delivers championships. But you know when Ericsson was fantastic and stood out of his seat last year? His stirring, composed drive to victory in the 106th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. There’s absolutely no reason why Ericsson can’t become the first driver to successfully defend his Indianapolis 500 victory since Helio Castroneves in 2002. Chip Ganassi Racing has put a driver in the front row at the start and in the top three at the finish each of the last three years Indy – the team has controlled “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” since 2020 more than any other team. Ericsson finished eighth at Texas in the only oval event this season, which gives me moment to pause, but he was so smart and smooth last year in the “500.” Plus, Ericsson leads the NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship standings for a reason entering the Month of May – he has two top-four finishes in two of the three races involving left and right turns this season. Ericsson definitely is a candidate to wield a mighty broom this May at The Brickyard.