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.






Pocono Postscript-A Final Word on Pocono

It has been 24 hours since the ABC Supply 500 began, and many words and thoughts have been shared by many people about the NTT Indycar Series racing at Pocono.  I think the series should still race there. Every track goes through a period where a few races in consecutive years have awful things happen.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has had several such periods. There have been calls to stop racing there as well.  I recall in 1964 and 1973 in particular, some people questioned whether it was safe to race there. Yet, the race has gone on. The series has constantly worked to improve the safety of the drivers so that the sport can continue.

Pocono should continue to have an Indycar race. Changes need to happen, though. I’m not an engineer, but there must be some modifications in downforce or engine horsepower that can allow more separation going into turn 2. The SAFER barrier and fencing in that section of the track needs to be looked at. Is it possible to prevent cars from climbing the wall?

One argument I’ve heard is that Indycars have outgrown the track. I heard the same thing in 1962 when Panelli Jones recorded the first 150 mph lap. Can racing technology outgrow tracks?  I’m sure it can happen, but I would think it might be more likely on an older road or street  course.  Pocono was built specifically for Indycar racing. The track is just one factor in making the race safer. It is probably the easiest part to fix.

More difficult to alter is the mindset of 22 drivers when the green flag drops. A 500 mile race is long and patience is a virtue. Drivers look for any opportunity to get ahead of an opponent, and go for any opening they believe to be there. One or two drivers will not exercise the caution needed at the start. It’s just how racing is.

If the series leaves Pocono behind, I understand if it’s for financial or scheduling reasons. Dropping a track because there have been too many accidents in a short period of time is not a good reason. There are ways to fix that problem.

Quick Thoughts- ABC Supply 500

A weather shortened official race is like only getting to eat half of your lunch. You’re somewhat filled, but want to get to the end.

I had a scary deja vu feeling when the first lap accident began. Thank goodness Rosenqvist’s car didn’t launch into the fence.

The AFP did its job, keeping a piece of carbon fiber and a tire from hitting Hinchcliffe.

I don’t know when the NTT Indycar Series’  post-race review of Sato’s part in the incident will take place, but there needs to be a penalty stronger than a fine or having points docked.

I’m not sure what has happened to Sato, but he had a great season going until he came into the pits too fast at Texas. since then, he has taken cars out of two consecutive races and may have affected the championship.

Have we seen the last 500 mile race outside of Indianapolis? From fans I communicated with who were there, it sounded as if the race was better attended than t last year’s race. The first lap accident on the heels of last year’s crash, may have sealed the track’s fate.

I have seen on social media that Pocono, which was built for Indycar, is not suited for the cars today. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway wasn’t built for today’s cars either, but no one is talking about leaving IMS. Cars can be modified to be safe for different tracks.

Dixon’s decision to add front wing may have cost him 10 valuable points.

Rossi is fortunate that he only lost 19 points to Newgarden. Newgarden didn’t have a great car today.

Ferrucci turned in another outstanding performance. He was in the lead group the entire race and improved nine spots.

Power’s Pocono line the last four years: 1st, 1st, 2nd, 1st. With his win at Indianapolis last year, of the last  five 500 mile races, Power has won four and finished second in the one he didn’t win.

The racing was good for the brief time we saw it. I thought the battle for the lead between Power and Pagenaud was great.

Tony Kanaan’s eighth place result is the second oval top ten for A. J. Foyt Racing in the last two ovals.

Ed Carpenter tied his best finish of the season with his sixth place finish. He also finished sixth at the 500.

That’s all for tonight. Back with a full race report tomorrow afternoon.




Race Day at Pocono- Eye on the Weather

Photo: Tony Kanaan was fastest in yesterday’s only practice. He was 5th on the No Tow list. Photo: Kyle McInnes

Good morning. It’s race day at Pocono Raceway. The ABC Supply 500 has a scheduled green flag of around 2:45, weather permitting. The last forecast I heard was for a mid morning shower with the race starting on time. Rain is possible between 4 and 5 pm. We may get a shortened race which would not be good for the championship contenders.

Check in with @Indycar_Wxman on Twitter for the latest weather. I will provide updates with links to his account as I receive them.  I will also be in contact with fans at the track for on site real time information.

I’m not sure what to expect this afternoon, but from yesterday’s practice session it looks like pit strategy and track position may be key. I anticipate no more than three yellow flags. Fuel mileage will be critical. Hondas should have the advantage there.

Coverage begins on NBCSN at 2pm Eastern. No word yet on possibly moving up the start time.


Curious information that Pocono wants the race to return, but Indycar has not responded. I don’t think the series is in a position yet to turn away a track that wants them. It wasn’t too long that when a potential track was mentioned, the line was the track has to want Indycar first. Here’s a track that wants a race. I would like to know why Indycar doesn’t want to return.

Indications are strong that Richmond will be on the schedule next year. I don’t see why it can’t be an addition instead of a replacement.


Interesting article by Chris De Harde in @Indystar about Colton Herta receiving multiple offers from different series. I hope he remains in Indycar. I thought it was pretty much a given that he would move to a fifth Andretti car.

I will be back with a weather update when I have one. i hope I don’t need to be. Look for my Quick thoughts after the race and a full race report here tomorrow.

Kanaan Leads Practice Session; ECR Struggles

Photo: Kyle McInnes

Tony Kanaan led this afternoon’s only track practice for tomorrow’s ABC Supply 500. Kanaan’s top lap of 216.354 was the only lap in the 216 range. Scott Dixon had the second best time with a 215. 761. Dixon’s lap came late  in the session. Simon Pagenaud in 5th and Charlie Kimball in eighth were the other Chevys  in the top ten. Alexander Rossi was fourth.

Rookie Santino Ferrucci led the session for a few minutes before settling for third quickest. Ferrucci was one of the few drivers who seemed to be able to pass cars  at will.

Ed Carpenter Racing struggled during the session. Spencer Pigot was 21st and Ed Carpenter was last. ECR usually does very well on super speedways. Points leader Josef Newgarden also had trouble finding speed, finishing 17th. Teammate Will Power ended 20th.

The Top Ten:



NBCSN did a nice job pointing out the different wickers teams were using. I’m glad the teams have options. Even thought the wickers configurations are difficult to see, it does give the cars some differentiation.

Rossi seemed to have the setup to be able to pull away from cars behind him.

Passing will be difficult tomorrow. Some of the attempted passes looked like what you see on a road course when a driver can get his nose up to the car but has to drop back. It looks like track position, fuel mileage, and good restarts will be keys to success Sunday.

I’ll be back to morrow with a quick morning preview and then post race coverage.

Race coverage begins at 2 pm on NBCSN. green flag around 2:45. Thanks for following along on this crazy, jumbled day.


Qualifying Cancelled

Qualifying for the ABC Supply 500 has been cancelled. The field will line up according to entrant  points. There will be a two hour practice once the helicopter arrives.  Time of the practice is TBA at the moment.

Josef Newgarden will start on the pole with Alexander Rossi beside him.

I will keep you updated as to when the practice session is scheduled. .