INDYCAR Pre-Race Media: Indy 500 Race Trends

TRACK: Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2.5 mile, oval), DISTANCE: 200 Laps (500 Miles) 

TRACK HISTORY/TRENDS

  • 11 of the last 15 series races have seen the winner come from a top 3 starting spot including 13 of the last 18.
  • 34 of the last 38 races saw the eventual race winner come from a top 10 starting spot. Simon Pagenaud (23rd) last July in Iowa is the only exception since the 2018 season finale.
  • 30 of the last 42 races have been won by a driver coming from the Fast 6.
  • In the aero kit era, starting position didn’t really matter at Indy. But, with this universal car that debuted in 2018, it now does. Simon Pagenaud became the first pole winner to win the ‘500 since 2009. Will Power won from third in 2018. Takuma Sato started fourth in his 2017 win and third in last year’s victory.
  • Since the new car came out in 2018, the “Big 3” have won 42 of the 53 races run (84-percent). Penske has won 22 times with Ganassi (11) and Andretti (9). But, RLL is next best with four victories while no one else has more than three.
  • Throw in RLL and you get 46 of 53 races won by these teams.
  • If you go back to 2016 though, that number stays the same. The “Big 3” have won 68 of 89 races run in that time frame. Throw in RLL and you get 75 of 89.
  • Combined, Penske and Andretti have won six of the last seven Indy 500’s. Throw Ganassi in there, and these three organizations have won 13 of the last 16 ‘500’s overall and 17 of the last 21 (since 2000).
  • RLL is the outlier who took two of the top three spots a year ago and have won 2 of the 4 that the “Big 3” didn’t since 2000. Plus, the last non Penske Chevrolet driver to win at Indy was Al Unser Jr. with Galles in 1992.
  • We’ve had a new, first time winner for the Indy 500 in six of the last seven years. Also, since 2011, we’ve had a different winner each year with the exception of Takuma Sato (2017, 2020) here too. Going back to 2003, only Dario Franchitti, Dan Wheldon and Takuma Sato have won this race multiple times in that time frame.
  • It’s been 10 years since we last saw a part time driver win the Indianapolis 500. Dan Wheldon did so in thrilling fashion that day. That came 10 years after the last in which Helio Castroneves did it in 2001. Now, can one of the talented drivers on this list do so this year? The numbers are on their side. 2001, 2011…2021?

TRACK COMPARISONS/WHO’S BEEN GOOD ON THEM

The only comparison to Indianapolis on the schedule now would be Texas since both run the superspeedway package, but you really can’t compare those 2 since Texas is a full 1 mile shorter in length. Texas and Indy are really tracks that just stands on their own.

The top teams at them are also the top teams in the series.

For Texas, Honda won in 2020 and 3 of the last 7 overall but those are also their only wins at Texas since 2013 too. Despite that, they’ve been the tops on the superspeedway package in general too.

They put 8 cars in the Fast 9 at Indy last year, swept the top 4 finishing spots and led 180 of 200 laps. At Texas in 2020, they had two cars in the top four and combined to lead 159 of 200 laps that night too.

In 2019, Josef Newgarden won at Texas in a Chevrolet powered car, but Honda drivers accounted for leading 194 of the 248 completed laps though and took four of the top five finishing positions including six of the top eight even. Newgarden, was the only Chevy driver to lead and he did so all at the end. He was also the only Chevy driver to lead in 2020 too as no other Chevy driver has led a lap at Texas since 2018. In 2018 in fact, Honda led 66-percent of the laps (162 of 248) too and took eight of the top nine finishing positions then as well. That’s Honda leading 74-percent (515 out of 696) of the Texas laps over the last three years.

For Indy, Chevrolet had the preferred power in this race in 2018 and again in 2019. They’ve swept the front row both years. In 2018, they led nearly 150 of the 200 laps run. 2019, they combined to lead 155 of the 200 laps.

That’s why it’s hard to compare the two. Honda’s had it all last year at Indy/Texas but Chevrolet was good at Indy in 2018 and 2019 while Honda’s dominated at Texas.

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