Who Will Taste the Milk in Victory Lane? [Indianapolis 500 Live Thread]
"A year's waiting is about to come to an end. The two and a half miles beckons."
Today is finally the day, the day of the 96th running of the Indianapolis 500, the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. Coverage begins on ABC at 11, with the green flag scheduled for just after noon eastern time, at 12:12 pm.
"No race is faster. No race is closer or more difficult, but Indy is much more."
Ryan Briscoe is the pole sitter, with a four lap average of 226.484 mph. He won that pole by the equivalent of 9.1 inches over James Hinchcliffe. The closeness of the cars has shown in practice. The DW12 has looked very racy during the month. If that continues today, we're going to have a great race on our hands.
"The 500 Mile Race is a celebration, a spectacle, the largest single gathering of people for a sporting event."
Over 250,000 people are expected for today's race. Those people will have to deal with the extreme heat forecasted. The drivers will also have to deal with the conditions, which should created a slick track, entering yet another new variable for this race.
"Indianapolis is dangerous. Its narrow road and concrete walls tear at man and machine. A skillful drive can turn into disaster without warning."
We saw a few crashes in qualifying. Luckily, the DW12 has done its job and everyone walked away. The threat of crashing is always there at the start, especially in midpack, where the two top Ganassis, Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti are starting. They were the top two in Carb Day, so they have the cars to get to the front, but first they have to avoid the early trouble.
"This place more than any other pushes you to the limit, because there's so much at stake."
Much is at stake for Team Penske and Andretti Autosport. Those two teams take up the entire first two rows. For pole sitter Briscoe, it's his chance to finally make his mark and get out of the shadow of his more celebrated teammates. For Helio Castroneves, this is his latest chance to join the immortal Four Wins Club, and for Will Power, it's his chance to show he's not just a road course ace anymore, and looking long-term, put a near hammerlock on the championship.
On the Andretti Autosport side, Ryan Hunter-Reay is trying to put a decent 500 together for the first time in four years, starting on the front row. Hinchcliffe, meanwhile, is trying to finish off a breakout month, one in which victory could propel the gregarious Canadian to stardom. Finally, there's Marco Andretti, who has been talking like he's the favorite, and throughout the month has backed it up (Scott Dixon agrees with Marco). It's been 43 years since an Andretti has been to Victory Lane (as a driver). Is this the year?
"The time is now. 33 of the fastest have accepted the challenge, and are ready for racing's ultimate test: 500 miles on a Sunday afternoon in Indiana. Where will the road take them? Too close to the walls, or to Victory Lane and its fame and fortune."
With all the changes in the cars and engines, this has felt like one of the most wide open 500's in recent memory. In addition to those already mentioned, there has been the incredible performance so far by rookie Josef Newgarden. Make no mistake, he will be a factor. We also wonder if this is finally the year for fan favorite Tony Kanaan, who's had so much bad luck at Indy. There is also speculation on how 19 year Formula One veteran Rubens Barrichello will do in his first 500, and how the USAC National Champion, Bryan Clauson, will do in a race hundreds of times bigger in speed and scale than the sprint car races he's so made his own. Can any of them win, or will we have a shock winner that nobody has been talking about? In a field this deep, it's very possible.
"Indy is a human struggle against all odds. It brings pain and anguish while at the same time, incomparable reward."
Last year, on the Centennial Celebration of the 500, saw this contrast as well as any other 500. JR Hildebrand was one corner away from winning the race as a rookie when he hit the wall. Can he achieve the ultimate redemption today?
Of course, the driver who earned the incomparable reward after Hildebrand's anguish was Dan Wheldon, who we tragically lost 5 months later. His memory remains on the mind's of everyone associated with IndyCar racing and the Indy 500. Dan will be missed and remembered before and during the race. Where ever he is though, we can all bet that he'd want us to enjoy the race.
Timing and scoring can be found here (with the radio broadcast in case the TV guys gets too annoying). More Front Wing's event summary can be found here, with the speed charts for every practice session and qualifying. Q it up here throughout the race.
"Whose likeness will be molded in silver to join the historic line? The 500 miles lie ahead."