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 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500 (11 a.m. ET, NBC, lNDYCAR Radio Network).
Well, we can start eliminating some people.
We’ve seen just 10 total rookies win in 106 past years, 3 since 1967 at that. The last came in 2016 on a fluke fuel call. I’d avoid Benjamin Pedersen, Sting Ray Robb, Agustin Canapino and RC Enerson.
AJ Foyt Racing
They’ve not won at Indy since 1999. They’ve not won an Indy Car race since 2013. That eliminates Santino Ferrucci and Pedersen.
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 106 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 Devlin DeFrancesco, Agustin Canapino, Callum Ilott, RC Enerson, Katherine Legge, Christian Lundgaard, Sting Ray Robb and Jack Havey.
Starting Spots (18th, 23rd, 24th Too)
No one has won the Indy 500 from these 3 spots either. That takes out Ryan Hunter-Reay, David Malukas and Marco Andretti.
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, Helio Castroneves and Marcus Ericsson.
So, who’s left?
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, Pedersen, Daly, Grosjean, Malukas, DeFrancesco, Canapino, Ilott, Enerson, Legge, Lundgaard, Robb and Harvey.
The last driver to win from 25th? Johnny Rutherford in 1974. The last time a driver won from 21st? 1924. Eliminate Colton Herta. In fact, we’ve seen 35 straight races to where the winner came from 19th or better here.
That narrows it down to the top 15 with. We’ve seen 11 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, No. 06 and No. 8. This affects only Sato, Power and Ericsson.
So, we’re down to the top 8 starters. The last 6 years the winner came from the top 8. Among the last 6 winners, 4 of the 6 finished outside the top 10 the year prior to their victory.
That opens up Rinus VeeKay.
5 of the last 7 years the race winner has been 0-fer in terms of season championships. That breaks it down to VeeKay again.
The No. 21 has also never won here and the 2nd place starting spot has won here 11th times.