The Greatest 33 Non-Winners: Final Grid- A Reader Request Post

Editor’s Note: This is the first reader request; originally published May 9, 2017

What a fun project this turned out to be! It was fascinating seeing how much those who submitted grids both agreed and disagreed. Some drivers got just one mention, while others appeared on every ballot.  There was near unanimous placement for some drivers, and some drivers were near the front on some grids and near the back on others. The driver nearly everyone agreed should be on the pole is Michael Andretti (pictured above, from 1992).

I  noticed the rankings were along age lines. Older fans close to my age seemed to have near identical grids,  and younger fans as a group submitted similar lineups.  Many drivers from long ago in general fared better on the lists from the older group. I was surprised how well the current drivers stacked up against the racers of the past. Another interesting detail is that all 50 driver finalists had at least one mention. I didn’t expect that.

To rank the drivers, I assigned points to the drivers corresponding to their spot on each person’s grid. A driver on pole got 1 point, the last driver got 33. If a driver was listed on pole on five grids, his total was 5. The lowest total won the pole. If a driver did not appear on someone’s grid, he/she was given 34 points. To my shock, there were only two ties. I resolved placement by averaged each driver’s highest and lowest rank of all the grades, with the lowest average getting the higher spot. One of the ties was for 32nd and 33rd. It was just like qualifying for the 1963 500.

The front row- Michael Andretti, Rex Mays, and Ted Horn, is strong. These drivers were in the top 10 on everyone’s grid. Andretti led 431 laps, the most by any non-winning driver. he started on the front row three times and had 5 top 5 finishes.  Rex Mays, in the middle of the front row is the only other driver to lead more than 200 laps and not win. Mays was on the pole four times. Ted Horn, on the outside of the front row, finished in the top five 9 times in 10 starts.

So here they are, the Greatest 33 Non-Winners of the Indianapolis 500:

Row 1

Michael Andretti

Rex Mays

Ted Horn

Row 2

Harry Hartz

Marco Andretti

Lloyd Ruby

Row 3

Gary Bettenhausen

Ralph Hepburn

Roberto Guerrero

Row 4

Scott Goodyear

Carlos Munoz

Robby Gordon

Row 5

Eddie Sachs

Tony Stewart

Jack McGrath

Row 6

Wally Dallenbach

Tomas Sheckter

Will Power

Row 7

Danica Patrick

Tony Bettenhausen

Joe Leonard

Row 8

Jimmy Snyder

Ed Carpenter

Danny Ongais

Row 9

Pancho Carter

Mel Kenyon

Kevin Cogan

Row 10

Vitor Meira

Russ Snowberger

Paul Russo

Row 11

Tom Alley

Johnny Thomson

George Snider

it’s kind of fitting that Snider is last on the grid. his trademark was jumping into a car on Bump Day and getting into the field starting near the back. Thanks to everyone who submitted a grid. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts and reasoning as to how yo put your grids together.

I will be back tomorrow with some 500 news and a report on my visit to the A. J. Foyt exhibit at the Speedway Museum. The cars were great to see, but the memorabilia was even more amazing to me. Thursday I will have my Indianapolis Grand Prix preview with my normally inaccurate winner’s prediction.

 

 

 

 

 

The Race Will Go On; No Spectators

The good news is there will be a race Sunday. The bad news is there will be no spectators. With other sports suspending their seasons and postponing or cancelling events, it is a relief that Indycar decided to press on. Any distraction from the Coronavirus is welcome.

The Indycar schedule is for one practice Saturday followed by qualifying. I assume thes sessions take place at the originally scheduled time. I will publish he schedule when it comes out.

All team personnel on the grounds will have a health screening.

The Road to Indy’s three series will each have one practice and one qualifying session. I assume some of these will be tomorrow, since Indycar won’t be on track. The qualifying round for each rung covers both races. The schedule should be out soon.

Here is the official announcement from the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg:

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New Eras and Young Guns- The Future Begins at St. Petersburg

Race weekend is finally here. After a long, eventful off season, Indycar returns with a new series owner, a new advancement in safety, and some rule tweaks. Another great rookie class is waiting for their first round of competition. Several races will host expanded fields.

Two new eras begin tomorrow at 10:45 am when the NTT Indycar Series has its first practice session of the year. The 17th Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is the first event with Roger Penske in charge of the series. It also will be the first official session in which the aeroscreen becomes a part of Indycar safety.

The Kids Are Alright

One of the things to watch over the weekend is the young drivers. Last year’s outstanding rookie group and this year’s equally talented first year drivers make up almost a third of the grid for Sunday’s race. The rookie battle between Oliver Askew and Rinus VeeKay should be fun to watch all season. Alex Palou is the mystery rookie. He is quick, but is he on a team that can get him to the front? Felipe Nasr is new to Indycar, but his F1 and sports car experience should help him find speed quickly. These rookies not only have to battle the veterans, but also the second year drivers who amassed some stellar statistics in 2019. These nine drivers could be considered a class to watch by themselves.

The Aeroscreen and Pit Stops

This weekend will be the first time the aeroscreen is tested under race conditions. How will it affect the car’s handling in traffic? Will passing be easier, more difficult , or about the same? Teams need a couple of races to get a handle on the effects of the new safety attachment.

An extra crew member will be allowed over the wall this season to exclusively tend to the aeroscreen. The crew member can only work on the screen when the rear wheels of the car are off the ground. The duties are limited to tear offs and cleaning the screen.  Since St. Pete is the first race with the aeroscreen, could we see some teams have pit stop issues? I’m sure the teams have practiced the new procedures, but in the heat of competition, things happen. I plan to watch pit stops closely Sunday.

Pit Strategy

The race distance has been shortened to 100 laps this year from the 110 it has been since 2013. 100 laps was the original distance beginning in 2005. I think it was probably done for television purposes. This shouldn’t change the need for three stops, but the timing of the final stop could depend on when the yellows fall. A team that pits late enough could end the race on red tires and have a speed advantage. Normally a team would want to be on blacks at the end of this race.

The Winner

If the recent trend holds, Josef Newgarden will win. His victory last year made him just the third winner since 2015. Juan Pablo Montoya won the first of back to back races in St. Pete then. Sebastien Bourdais went back to back in 2017 and 2018. Newgarden was just the fourth winner of this race to go on to win the series championship. Will Power was the last driver to win both in 2014.

Predictions

The race has had few caution periods for the most part in recent years. Qualifying position is the key to success. The pole winner doesn’t necessarily win, but with the exception of Bourdais’ two victories, starting near the front helps.

When we talk qualifying, we usually mean Will Power. He is the active leader in career poles and won the pole last year.  Look for him to repeat as the top qualifier, but I look for Scott Dixon to finally win at this track.

Schedule Changes

It is possible the schedule may be adjusted during the weekend. I will keep you posted on any changes that occur. If you’re coming to the race, stay safe and wash your hands.

Update: Herta Transporter Catches Fire; Car Okay

Andretti Autosport issued the following statements on Twitter @FollowAndretti around 11 am ET:

At this time, damages to the 88 car appear to be minor and cosmetic, caused by heat, smoke and/or water. We have no current reason to believe that any competition or mechanical aspects of the 88 car have been damaged or compromised. (cont.)

Andretti Autosport
@FollowAndretti
Our Indy Lights team is in Florida for testing and is now in route to St. Pete to help evaluate and assess. Additionally, we are sending a team of INDYCAR crewman from Indianapolis to St. Pete today – in advance of the full team’s arrival tomorrow morning. (cont.)

Andretti Autosport
@FollowAndretti

We are also preparing backup pit equipment at our Indy race shop, this equipment & a spare transporter will depart Indianapolis today as well. Again, we would like to express our gratitude to our transport drivers & local fire departments for their quick responses & support.

 

The transporter carrying Colton Herta’s number 88 car to the Firestone Grand Prix caught fire early this morning just about 15 minutes from the track. An update just a few minutes ago reported that the car was not damaged, but there is extensive damage to the pit equipment.

Herta is expected to be a contender for the NTT Indycar Series championship. Follow along all day for updates.

My guess is the fire was caused by brake failure. A similar incident involving a Penske transporter happened in the early 2000s. I believe it Helio Castroneves’ car, but I’m not sure. He went on to win the race.

Update from Nathan Brown if the Indianapolis Star:

Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Fast Facts

NTT IndyCar Series News Release
'The Amazing Race' premiers with drivers Rossi, Daly tonight
Firestone Grand Prix
of St. Petersburg Fast Facts

Race weekend: Friday – Sunday.

Track: Streets of St. Petersburg, 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street circuit (clockwise) through downtown St. Petersburg, Florida, including a runway of Albert Whitted Airport.

 

Race distance: 100 laps / 180 miles.

Push-to-pass parameters: 150 seconds of total time with a maximum single duration of 15 seconds. The push-to-pass is not available on the initial start or any restart unless it occurs in the final two laps or three minutes of a timed race. The feature increases the power of the engine by approximately 60 horsepower for 2020.

Firestone tire allotment: Seven sets primary, four sets alternate.

Twitter: @GPSTPETE, @INDYCAR, #FirestoneGP, #INDYCAR, #ADifferentBreed

Event website: www.gpstpete.com.

INDYCAR website: www.indycar.com.

2019 race winner: Josef Newgarden, 2:04:18.2588, 95.572 mph (110 laps/198 miles)

2019 NTT P1 Award winner: Will Power, 1:00.4594, 107.179 mph.

Qualifying lap record: Jordan King, 1:00.0476; 107.914 mph, March 10, 2018 (set in Round 1 of qualifying).

NBCSN race telecasts: Qualifying, 10 p.m. ET Saturday (tape delayed); Race, 3:30 p.m. ET Sunday (live). Pre-race show begins at 2:30 p.m.

Pennzoil INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts: Mark Jaynes is the chief announcer alongside analyst Davey Hamilton. Jake Query and Nick Yeoman are the turn announcers with Dave Furst, Rob Howden and Michael Young reporting from the pits. The Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg race airs live on network affiliates, Sirius 211, XM 205, indycar.com, indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app powered by NTT DATA. All NTT INDYCAR SERIES practices and qualifying are available on indycar.com, indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app, with qualifying also airing on Sirius 216 and XM 205.

NBC Sports Gold Live Streaming: All NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice sessions and qualifying will stream live on INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports Gold, NBC Sports’ direct-to-consumer livestreaming product.

At-track schedule (All Times Local/Eastern Time): 

Friday

10:45 – 11:30 a.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES Practice #1, NBC Sports Gold

3 – 3:45 p.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES Practice #2, NBC Sports Gold

Saturday

10:45 – 11:30 a.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES Practice #3, NBC Sports Gold

2:40 p.m. – Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Qualifying (Three rounds of knockout qualifications), NBC Sports Gold (live) and NBCSN (taped delayed until 10 p.m.

Sunday

10:25 – 10:55 a.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES Warm-Up, NBC Sports Gold

2:30 p.m. –  NBCSN pre-race show begins

3:23 p.m. –  Command

3:30 p.m. – Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg green flag (100 laps/180 miles), NBCSN (live)

Race Notes:

  • This will mark the 10th consecutive year that the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg has served as INDYCAR’s season-opening race. Dario Franchitti won the inaugural season opener at St. Pete in 2011. This will be the 17th race overall, dating to Paul Tracy winning the CART-sanctioned race in 2003.
  • The St. Petersburg INDYCAR race has been run every year since 2003 except for 2004. No driver has competed in every St. Petersburg race, but Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan have started 15 consecutive races. Only Dixon is entered this year. Sebastien Bourdais and Ryan Hunter-Reay competed in the first race in 2003.
  • Kanaan’s all-time record streak of 317 consecutive race starts will end this weekend. The streak began in June 2001 at Portland. Dixon has made 258 consecutive starts heading into the weekend, which is the second-longest streak and now will become tops among active streaks.. Andretti Autosport’s Marco Andretti has made 234 consecutive starts, which is the third-longest streak all time and now will move to second among active streaks..
  • Dixon seeks his first win on the streets of St. Petersburg. Dixon’s five NTT INDYCAR SERIES championships trail only the seven titles collected by A.J. Foyt. Dixon is third on the all-time Indy car victory list with 46, but has never won at St. Petersburg. He has four runner-up finishes at the circuit, including last season.
  • Will Power (2010,’14) and Bourdais (2017, ’18) are the only entered drivers to win at St. Petersburg more than once. Helio Castroneves won three times (2006, ’07, ’12), while Juan Pablo Montoya won in 2015 and ’16. Past winners Graham Rahal (2008) and Newgarden (2019) are also entered.
  • Team Penske has won the pole position nine of the past 13 St. Petersburg races, including eight of the last 10 poles by Power. Past pole winners Bourdais (2003), Rahal (2009) and Takuma Sato (2014) are also entered this weekend.
  • Two drivers have won the race from the pole – Castroneves (2007) and Power (2010). The St. Petersburg winner has qualified fourth in four of the last seven seasons.
  • Team Penske has won at St. Petersburg nine times, including five of the last eight races with Castroneves (2012), Power (2014), Montoya (2015-16) and Newgarden (2019).
  • Five rookies are entered and three – Oliver Askew, Felipe NasrAlex Palou and Rinus VeeKay — will make their first NTT INDYCAR SERIES start this weekend at St. Petersburg. The other Rookie of the Year candidate entered is Ben Hanley.
  • Since 2012, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES has averaged nine different race winners per season, including a record-tying 11 winners in 2014. There were seven different winners in the 17 races of 2019.