INDIANAPOLIS — The stage is set. 33 cars. 200 Laps. 1 glass of milk. Who will get to the Yard of Bricks first in Sunday’s 106th Running of the Indianapolis 500?
Well, we can start eliminating some people.
We’ve seen just 10 total rookies win in 105 past years, 3 since 1967 at that. The last came in 2016 on a fluke fuel call. I’d avoid Jimmie Johnson (+1600), Romain Grosjean (+3000), David Malukas (+5000), Callum Ilott (+10000), Devlin DeFrancesco (+10000), Kyle Kirkwood (+10000) and Christian Lundgaard (+10000).
AJ Foyt Racing
They’ve not won at Indy since 1999. They’ve not won an Indy Car race since 2013. I don’t see it out of them this year either so don’t take JR Hildebrand (+10000), Kyle Kirkwood (+10000) or Dalton Kellett (+20000).
Any One Starting 26th Or Worse
Only 1 driver has won this race from the Outside of Row 9 (Fred Frame in 1932) and just 3 drivers in 105 years have won this race from a starting position of 26th or worse. In fact, all 3 instances came from 1936 and prior. That eliminates Scott McLaughlin, Helio Castroneves, Kyle Kirkwood, Dalton Kellett, Juan Pablo Montoya, Christian Lundgaard, Jack Harvey and Stefan Wilson.
Starting Spots (18th, 23rd, 24th Too)
No one has won the Indy 500 from these 3 spots either. That takes out Conor Daly, Marco Andretti and Devlin DeFrancesco.
Recent Past Winners:
We’ve seen a lot of parity lately in this race. Since 2011, only Takuma Sato has won this race more than once. That would eliminate Tony Kanaan, Juan Pablo Montoya, Alexander Rossi, Sato, Will Power, Simon Pagenaud and Helio Castroneves.
So, who’s left?
Scott Dixon, Alex Palou, Rinus VeeKay, Ed Carpenter, Marcus Ericsson, Pato O’Ward, Felix Rosenqvist, Josef Newgarden, Santino Ferrucci, Graham Rahal, Sage Karam and Colton Herta.
Since 1967, just 3 drivers scored their 1st career INDYCAR win in the Indy 500. It was Arie Luyendyk (1990), Buddy Lazier (1996) and Alexander Rossi (2016). I don’t see that happening this time around so that eliminates Ferrucci and Karam.
The last driver to win from 25th? Johnny Rutherford in 1974. I’d eliminate Herta. The last time a driver won from 21st? 1924. Eliminate Graham Rahal. In fact, we’ve seen 34 straight races to where the winner came from 19th or better here.
That narrows it down to the top 15 with Dixon, Palou, VeeKay, Carpenter, Ericsson, O’Ward, Rosenqvist and Newgarden. We’ve seen 10 straight years with a different car number win. No. 50, No. 11, No. 28, No. 2, No. 98, No. 26, No. 12, No. 22, No. 30 and No. 06. This affects only Newgarden.
So, we’re down to the top 8 starters. The last 5 years the winner came from the top 8. Among the last 5 winners, 3 of the 5 finished outside the top 10 the year prior to their victory.
That opens up Dixon, Ericsson and Rosenqvist.
5th place has won here 7 times. The last time the No. 8 won was in 1956 by Pat Flaherty.
8th place has won here 3 times. The last time the No. 7 won here was in 1949 by Bill Holland
The pole has won here 21 times with the last time for the No. 9 being in 2008 by Scott Dixon.
4 of the last 6 years the race winner has been 0-fer in terms of season championships. That breaks it down to Ericsson vs. Rosenqvist.
I’ll take Ericsson.