The month of May, 2013, at the famed two and a half mile rectangle/oval located at Speedway, Indiana has been dominated by cars prepared and driven by Andretti Autosport. During the week leading up to Pole Day, which took place last weekend, saw all five cars comfortably posting speed times in the top 10 with the consistency usually reserved by Penske Racing or Target Chip Ganassi (who, under their direct banner, have fielded five cars combined).
On Pole Day, Andretti Autosport cars made it to the “Fast Nine” shootout for the pole … the only other multiple car team to place all of its cars in the final cut was Penske Racing (P5. (2) AJ Allmendinger, Dallara-Chevy 02:37.8264 (228.099) | P6. (12) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy 02:37.8342 (228.087) | P8. (3) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy 02:38.0596 (227.762)) leaving Target Chip Ganassi Racing (TGR) locked out – TGR’s Dixon and Franchitti are P16 and P17 respectively (row six).
The Andretti Autosport DW12’s qualified at P2. (26) Carlos Munoz, Dallara-Chevy 02:37.6581 (228.342) | P3. (25) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Chevy 02:37.7139 (228.261) | P4. (5) EJ Viso, Dallara-Chevy 02:37.7907 (228.150) | P7. (1) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Chevy 02:37.9614 (227.904) | P9. (27) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Chevy 02:38.5411 (227.070).
If qualifying position and overall team performance were the solid gold predictors in the outcome of a race run, then one would have to give the inside track to ANY Andretti Autosport team car and driver.
When one adds the calculation of team performance to the winning of races, Andretti Autosport is also given the edge starting the last half of 2012 – when Ryan Hunter-Reay won Race #8 of a 15 race season at the Milwaukee Mile, Race #9 Iowa, and Race #14 through the streets of Baltimore and eventually seizing the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series (IICS) Driver Championship – then continuing the performance during the first four races of the 2013 season with James Hinchcliffe winning Race #1 at St. Petersburg and #4 at Sao Paulo, not to forget the win by last year’s IICS champion Ryan Hunter-Reay in Race #2 at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama – the team is on a roll.
Lastly, through four races of the 2013 season, the consistency of performance can not be ignored. The driver championship standings with over 20% of the season being run has Andretti Autosport season regular drivers Marco Andretti standing at P2, James Hinchcliffe at P4, Ryan Hunter-Reay at P6, and EJ Viso at P11. And, again, the pinch-hitter for the INDY 500, Carlos Munoz sits as the top qualifying driver for the team at P2 – WOW!
A shootout in the INDY 500 by Andretti Autosport drivers is a very real possibility because the team, and the way the second season DW12 cars have been prepared, would allow this to happen.
This excerpted and edited from SB Nation –
2013 Indianapolis 500: Power ranking the field of 33
By MattWeaver on May 21 2013, 10:00p
Instead of compiling a traditional power rankings list like we normally do on Tuesday afternoons at SB Nation IndyCar, this week’s post will rank the top-10 drivers most likely to win the Indianapolis 500-mile Race.
Drivers can typically be lumped into three groups entering the month of May:
1.) The top-10 drivers that have the easiest path towards winning the Borg-Warner Trophy.
2.) The group of 10 that will need some help or a little bit of luck.
3.) The final 13 that are best described as a long shot.
Our top-10 picks to win the 2013 Indianapolis 500 can be found below, with an explanation for each of the top contenders. For reference’s sake, we’ve also included a complete ranking to the last driver.
1. Marco Andretti
The entire month of May seemingly has been dedicated to Andretti Autosport, the Andretti Curse and Marco Andretti’s career resurgence. While just a little off the pole speed on Saturday, the number 25 team appears fastest in traffic, picking up a toe [TOW] and several other deciding factors in traffic.
He’s also number 1 on the power rankings list because he’s shown the most consistent speed at Indianapolis since teams unloaded the DW12 oval model last May, leading the most laps of the 2012 race and dominating the practice sessions leading up to the 2013 race.
2. Ed Carpenter
One of the biggest misconceptions about the buildup to this year’s Indianapolis 500 is that Ed Carpenter is some sort of heartwarming underdog victory after capturing the pole on Saturday afternoon. Sure, Ed Carpenter Racing doesn’t have the same budget as Penske or Ganassi, but he is the most prolific oval racer of the post-split era.
3. Carlos Muñoz
With reservation, a 21-year-old rookie makes the podium in the most-likely to win the Indianapolis 500 power rankings post.
Only Marco Andretti has shown quicker pace in practice, and Muñoz has looked confident running in a pack with his Andretti Autosport teammates. He’s looking to do what JR Hildebrand couldn’t do in 2011, and that is winning this race in just his very first attempt — so don’t be surprised if it actually happens.
4. Hélio Castroneves
If youthful disregard could win on Sunday for Muñoz, experience and patience will do it for Hélio Castroneves. There is more than one way to win this race, and it will be interesting to see how Castroneves approaches another attempt to win his fourth Borg-Warner.
5. Dario Franchitti
Repeat everything that was said about Hélio Castroneves in regards to Dario Franchitti. The only thing placing Castroneves over Franchitti is his Chevy turbocharger which appears much-stronger at Indianapolis. Dario is also looking for his fourth win at the Speedway.
6. Will Power
Based on his championship finishes over the past three seasons, Will Power has inherited the title of Team Penske’s number 1 driver. With that title comes a lot of responsibility at Indianapolis Motor Speedway but not a lot of success thus far.
Will Power can absolutely win this race. And in a season where he has somehow gone winless through four-consecutive road and street course events, wouldn’t a victory in the Indianapolis 500 just make sense?
7. James Hinchcliffe
The Go Daddy Andretti driver has been sneaky competitive at Indianapolis, qualifying 13th for Newman/Haas in 2011 and finishing sixth in last year’s race. Brimming with the confidence off two wins to start the 2013 season and the powerful Andretti Autosport backing his entry in 2013, Hinchcliffe could finally and completely break out of her shadow with a win in the Indianapolis 500.
8. EJ Viso
Andretti Autosport has seemingly concentrated the raw potential of EJ Viso, and that could again show itself with a surprise victory in the Indianapolis 500.
9. AJ Allmendinger
Casual observers were quick to point out that AJ Allmendinger’s lack of results in his first two races back in Indy car was a sign of his inability to drive these cars after six seasons or the result of his mixed commitments to both IndyCar and NASCAR.
Like any Penske car, the No. 2 has speed the driver has shown the ability to wield it for brief practice or qualifying spurts, but can he do it for 500 miles? That’s the only question separating AJ Allmendinger from the Borg-Warner trophy.
10. Scott Dixon
In a repeat of last season, Honda and Target Chip Ganassi Racing look to be just off the pace set by their Chevrolet rivals. But like last season, Honda and Ganassi will rise to the occasion and will be a constant threat for the lead in the late stages of the race.
Lost in the shuffle between the legendary Dario Franchitti/Takuma Sato duel last year was that Scott Dixon was leading the Indianapolis 500 up until three laps to go. That isn’t likely to change on Sunday.
Predictions are a funny thing because when the race is run, the story always takes on an edge that can never be calculated for. This is why we race, and watch American open wheel races.
The Memorial Day weekend tradition returns with the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 26, beginning at 12pm ET from famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
ABC airs the race for the 49th straight year, beginning with a one-hour preview show Sunday at 11am ET. The production will use 84 cameras, including three on-board cameras each on 12 of the 33 cars. Viewers can also choose a live streaming video feed from the on-board cameras on ESPN3. Marty Reid calls the race with analysts Scott Goodyear and Eddie Cheever. Lindsay Czarniak hosts, with Rick DeBruhl, Jamie Little, Dr. Jerry Punch and Vince Welch reporting from pit row.
… notes from The EDJE
** Article originally posted as “Will The 97th INDY 500 Become An Andretti Autosport Shootout?” at Motorsports Unplugged**