Today’s question: Who will win the 107th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge?
Curt Cavin: Earlier in the month, I pegged Alex Palou as the driver most likely to win both the GMR Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500 this May, and he won the former and added the “500” pole for good measure. I think the driver of Chip Ganassi’s 10 car will pull the May sweep as Simon Pagenaud did here in 2019. Not only did Palou have the fastest car in qualifying, he learned a massive amount about winning the race in 2021 while chasing Helio Castroneves to the finish line. Last year, he qualified only a blink behind Scott Dixon for the pole, then led 47 laps before getting tripped up by a very untimely caution while committed to coming to pit road. After dropping to last due to the penalty served, Palou battled back to finish ninth. It’s not a stretch to say he could have won either of the those two “500s.” One other point: The pole winner has won “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” nearly 20 percent of the time (21 of 106). Palou has a terrific chance to build on that.
Joey Barnes: I have stewed over this question since the conclusion of qualifying. Sleeping on it or even having a few beers hasn’t provided much of an answer, either. Josef Newgarden called the Indianapolis Motor Speedway “a cruel mistress,” and he’s absolutely spot on. This place has provided the most heartbreaking moments to the best in the business, and some absolute stunners that no one expected. Pole sitter Alex Palou looks like the odds-on favorite, and 2008 Indy 500 winner Scott Dixon has been the most dominant driver each of the past three years but failed to find Victory Lane. Will Power and Simon Pagenaud are the last favorites, in my opinion, to win when they went back-to-back for Team Penske in 2018 and ’19. A case could be made for just about everyone in the field of 33, and each and every one has their own respective feel-good story to go along with it. This all said, at some point you are just due, and that guy is Felix Rosenqvist. The driver starting third has won this race 13 times, second-most in the event’s history. Additionally, I think Rosenqvist has been overall best out of the Arrow McLaren squadron. Sweden gets to celebrate for the second year in a row, but this time with the guy from Varnamo.
Paul Kelly: I’m always a sucker for a good story, and what has been a more compelling tale this Month of May than the resurgence of AJ Foyt Racing? Santino Ferrucci and Benjamin Pedersen have been fast in most sessions, and both qualified in the first four rows. The renaissance for the team that hasn’t won this race since 1999 with Kenny Brack almost seems supernatural, as team patriarch A.J. Foyt, president Larry Foyt and everyone who works for the tight-knit group still are reeling from the sudden loss of A.J.’s wife of nearly 68 years, Lucy, on April 5. But here’s a fact: Foyt’s team won’t need divine intervention to win this race. Ferrucci’s No. 14 Homes For Our Troops features the potent combination of raw speed and smooth handling in traffic, both vital elements for success in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” After reading this revealing interview with lead Foyt engineer Michael Cannon, who has forgotten more about getting around IMS than some will ever know, I’m more convinced than ever that Ferrucci will win this race from the fourth starting position and deliver A.J. his sixth “500” victory as a driver or owner at age 88. The IMS Facilities team better have some heavy-duty mops ready for the Victory Podium if that happens because the milk splashed from the winner’s bottle will mix with gallons of joyful tears.