INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis isn’t an easy place to win. Lore states, that this track, this place, well it picks its winners. Show this living, breathing historical landmark respect, you’ll be shown it back. Overlook it? The wall will bite you.
To be around for 106 years now, Indy doesn’t just let any through the gates of victory lane. It can’t. This place means too much to too many people around this planet of ours to just allow anyone in.
Just look at the some of the names to have won here in the 21st century. Montoya. Castroneves. Wheldon. Franchitti. Dixon.
This place chooses who it wants to join racing lore. No matter how good you are, how much you’ve accomplished elsewhere, Indy doesn’t care. Indy stands out above all the rest. Indy is Indy.
Victory lane is not a club that almost anyone is invited to. The cold glass of milk is reserved for the best of the best. It’s not a place that rewards a fluke winner. A rookie in 2011 found himself in the lead in the closing laps. Indy wasn’t willing to welcome a rookie winner that day. Instead, JR Hildebrand found the Turn 4 wall on Lap 199.
In 2016, Indy was finally welcoming to a rookie winner. A clutch and coast kind. One that would keep this talented American driver on it’s soil for the foreseeable future.
Alexander Rossi is forever grateful.
It’s a place that also has kept the doors of immortality shut and locked for decades. It took 61 years for the first driver to win here 4 times. That’s why only 3 humans to walk this planet have had 4 Baby Borgs in their possession. No one since 1992 has had the luxury of joining that elusive club. Dario Franchcitti scored his third win in 2012 but only had 1 more shot at 4. Helio Castroneves scored No. 3 in 2009 but Indy didn’t allow him the distinction of legendary status in 2014 nor 2017 of unlocking the door to greatness here.
He tried for 11 years for No. 4 but was denied each time. Indy gave him the keys last May.
Dixon, has just 1 win. Josef Newgarden has none. Just 20 drivers in the history of this universe has won this thing multiple times. So, with that said, who’s next?
Out of his 33 car field, is it Castroneves taking over supremacy here with No. 5? Can Takuma Sato get his 3rd Indy win with 3 different teams? Can anyone pick up their second?
Maybe it’s a newbie.
Is it Alex Palou (0-for-3) who was deeply hurt by finishing second last year? He starts 2nd. What about Pato O’Ward (0-for-2) who was sixth and fourth in his first two Indy starts. He starts 7th. Colton Herta (0-for-3)? He was on the front row last year but has failed to score a top five in three tries. He is coming off of a win in the GMR Grand Prix and 2 of the last 4 years have seen someone do the Indy sweep.
Speaking of front row, so was Rinus VeeKay (0-for-2) who finished eighth from the third starting spot last May. He starts third again on Sunday.
Santino Ferrucci (0-for-3) has been in the top 10 in all three of his starts. Can he get a fourth with a third different team?
If Penske improves, will Scott McLaughlin (0-for-2) pick up a win?
What about a veteran like Ed Carpenter (0-for-18)? The hometown hero has 3 top sixes in his last four. What about his teammate Conor Daly (0-for-8)? He led the most laps (40) a year ago and enters on the heels of a top 5 result in the GMR Grand Prix.
Marco Andretti (0-for-16) would be a popular winner. An Andretti last visited victory lane here in 1969 and Andretti would love nothing more to be the next and to finally end that drought. He had three top three’s in his first five Indy starts but only one in his last 11 and his start on Sunday will break a tie with his dad for most starts between them.
We’ve seen 10 different winners in the last 11 years here. All but Rossi veterans who’ve paid their dues. So, who’s next?