This is a hard race to figure out. Nearly half the field has a chance to win. I have given this a lot of thought. I go with my instincts most of the time, and my instincts are telling me this: There will be a repeat winner. He will not drive for Penske. In fact, he won’t even drive a Chevrolet. My pick: I’ll tell you in a bit, but first here’s why.
First, let’s eliminate some contenders. James Hinchcliffe winning the pole is a great story. What an incredible movie there could be if he won the race. I haven’t seen the sped in race trim from him that could get him to Victory Lane. Josef Newgarden can win races, but more often than not, his pit stops keep him out of the winner’s circle. That is my concern regarding his chances.
Other contenders- Scott Dixon could win if the race becomes a fuel saving contest. I think there will be enough yellow flag time that fuel will not be an issue. Tony Kanaan has shown speed in race trim, but do the Chevys have enough power to match the Hondas? I haven’t seen that.
Of course, you cannot count out the Penske drivers to be players. I think they will play a role but fade in the end. Again, not enough speed over the long haul.
So we come to my winner: Ryan Hunter-Reay will win his second Indianapolis 500.
I think this will become the type of race that Hunter-Reay excels at, a fast race with just enough cautions to cause teams to gamble a bit on strategy. Hunter-Reay will also use his uncanny ability to put his car wherever he wants to to get by someone. When we all raise our milk cartons to salute the winner, it will be the 28 car. Enjoy the race
Winner: Ryan Hunter-Reay
Rookie of the year: Alexander Rossi
Cautions: 6 for 53 laps
First car out: Jack Hawksworth