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.

 

 

 

 

 

Genesys Assumes Sponsorship at Texas

It makes sense now. I wondered why one of James Hinchcliffe’s three races with Andretti Autosport was Texas instead of Toronto. His sponsor is the new title sponsor of the June 8 NTTINDYCARSERIES race, now known as the Genesys 600. The company replaces DXC Technologies in the title role.

It’s nice to see a new sponsor jumping in with both feet like this. I would have been happy with their three race sponsorship for Hinchcliffe. That would be a nice beginning for a new Indycar partner. I hope their involvement leads to a full time of half year sponsorship for Hinchcliffe and Andretti.

Earlier today, the Firestone Grand of St. Petersburg announced Frontier as the official television and internet provider of the season opening race. I posted the announcement here:

https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/90591962/posts/2603641037

I love days like this when there are several announcements, especially when they concern more companies getting involved with the series.

My season preview will start tomorrow. It will be a three part series where I assess each team’s outlook for the 2020 season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quick Thoughts- DXC Technology 600k

That turned out to be a fun race at the end. It was a pretty tame race for Texas.

Josef Newgarden has three wins already this season. No one had more than three wins in 2018.  This puts Newgarden in a great position to win a tiebreaker, although should  Alexander Rossi tie him in wins, Rossi has three second places to date.

If Newgarden wins the championship, Tim Cindric should get a big share of the credit. Another brilliant call to pit on the first yellow worked out and brought the car home first. All three of Newgarden’s wins this year can attributed to pit/tire calls by Cindric.

Rossi had a great save to avoid the Herta-Dixon crash. It likely saved his title hopes.

The high line never came in tonight as it usually does. Rossi lost one of his strengths without that second groove.

Graham Rahal had a quiet race, but ends up third.  Glad to see him finally have a good result in what has been a frustrating season for his team.

Remember when crew members wore short sleeves and no helmets? A serious injury or worse didn’t happen on pit lane tonight because of the mandated safety equipment for crew members. That was a scary crash in Sato’s pit. Glad to see the crewman was okay.

Dixon has made race ending mistakes two straight weekends.

It’s a shame that James Hinchcliffe  crashed. He had the drive of the race going until then.

Colton Herta also had a great run going.   He made some incredible moves. A shame his day ended the way it did.

What can we say about Santino Ferrucci? His fourth place tonight  at Texas gives him  three top tens in the last four races. Ferrucci is now leading the Rookie of the Year standings. He has done this rather quietly.  Ferrucci has improved every week.

Zach Veach continues his disappointing season.

Look for my full race report on Wildfire Sports tomorrow.  Next week I take a look at the season at the halfway point.

 

Quick Thoughts- Texas Qualifying

Photo; Takuma Sato at Indianapolis last month

Note: The  comments above the break were written in real time during qualifying.

Tony Kanaan’s miserable year continues. He brushed the wall on his qualifying lap.

Great first lap by Marco then he looked like he was back on slicks at Detroit last Saturday.

After Spencer Pigot’s run I thought Ed Carpenter would do better.

Takuma Sato with another great qualifying run.

Disappointing run fir Alexander Rossi.

That is the worst Team Penske qualifying effort I’ve seen in a while.

****************************************

Anyone who says they knew before the season started that Sato would have two poles is lying. I have said he will be in this title fight all season. Sato is third in bonus points with 7, behind Rossi and Newgarden.

Sato now has 9 career poles.  Ryan Hunter-Reay and  Josef Newgarden each  have 7.

The race will he interesting with Rossi and Will Power starting mid pack.  Keep your on starting spots 8-15 the first stint tomorrow.

I wonder if the Penske cars have better race cars than qualifying cars.

The tire question will be huge tomorrow night, especially late in the race.

Marco can’t catch a break, even with a really good car.

The unofficial results:

screenshot_20190607-203814.png

Back tomorrow with Quick Thoughts after the race and a full report Sunday on Wildfire Sports.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Texas Preview- Tires and Timing Keys to Winning

The NTT Indycar series reaches the halfway point of the season with Saturday night’s DXC Technology 600k at Texas Motor Speedway.  The race also ends a grueling five week stretch for the teams and drivers that started May 10 with the Indycar Grand Prix. There is a test at Road America next week, and the race there is June 22-24.

Texas over the years has had horrific crashes and controversy.   In 1997, Billy Boat won the race driving for A. J. Foyt. Arie Luyenduyk confronted Foyt in Victory Lane claiming he had won. Foyt slapped Luyendyk. A review showed that Luyendyk had indeed won. Foyt stil has the trophy. It was the last Indycar race that USAC officiated. Simona de Silvestro was involved in a horrible crash in 2010 and her car came to rest on fire. It took several minutes for the rescue team to reach her car. In 2017, a multi-car wreck which caused a red flag resulted in lots of finger pointing among drivers and teams.

The weekend really began last night with a night practice. The practice also served as test to decide which of two tire compounds cars will use in the race.

Last night’s practice was cut short by rain at about 8:50 EDT. The drivers got about 35 minutes actual practice. the first few minutes were spent practicing pit exit with the two stage limiter in effect for this race.

Scott Dixon was fastest in the short practice session with a lap at 219.3 mph. Today’s schedule: All times Eastern

Pit Stop Practice and Practice 2       2:30-4:00  NBC Gold

Qualifying                                               6:45-7:45    NBC Sports and NBC Gold

 

This weekend’s race could either help drivers close in on points leader Josef Newgarden or put someone too far back to contend the rest of the year.

Since 2011, only three drivers who have won this race went on to win the championship the same season. Scott Dixon has done it three times, last year,  2015, and 2008.  Dario Franchitti won the race and the title in 2011. Helio Castroneves has won four times, and Dixon has three victories.

Winning the pole at Texas doesn’t mean race success, either.  In the 30 previous races, only five  drivers won from the pole- Sam Hornish, Jr. in 20001,  Gil de Ferran in 2003, Helio Castroneves in 2004, and Tomas Scheckter in 2005; Scott Dixon is the last driver to win from pole in 2008. Power has won the pole three times in three straight years- 2013-2015.

Daly’s Second Start

Conor Daly makes his second start of the season, driving for Carlin Racing. he replaces Max Chilton, who has decided not to drive on the remaining ovals this year.  Daly finished 10th in the Indianapolis 500 driving for Andretti Autosport. He drove for Carlin ‘s GP 3 program in 2011.

In 2016 at Texas Daly was involved in crash with Josef Newgarden. Newgarden was injured but still was able to race at road America two weeks later. The 2016 race was later halted by rain after 78 laps and finished in August.

Strong Track for Penske

Four of the last six poles at TMS have been won by a Penske Chevrolet.  Newgarden won the pole last year.  Power, as previously stated, won the pole from 2013-15. Race results for Penske have been mixed, with only two wins in the last six years. The most recent win was by Power in 2017.

With all three Penske drivers fighting for the title,and possibly the win,  the drivers will be taking points from each other, leaving an opening for Dixon or Alexander Rossi to gain ground.

How the Yellows Fall

The outcome of the race usually comes down to when the last yellow flag falls and who survives the attrition this track seems to produce.  A caution with less than ten laps to go will result in cars behind the leader going to the pits for fresh tires. The leader is stuck maintaining his position. His only hope is for a yellow with three laps left.

Tires

The rain shortened practice may make tires more of a question mark. this was the only practice that was at the same time of day as the race.  At that, just a few minutes after the green flag time, the rain began.

Firestone brought a different right front in case their first choice blistered.  The hope is that tire wear will be more of a factor this year. it may be another race where the last driver to get fresh tires wins.

Inaccurate Predicitions

At the season’s halfway point, I have a choice. i can get a prediction right or run the table and continue to get them all wrong.  I will try to get at least one right.

Pole: Hunter-Reay

Race: Dixon

Like Detroit last week, this race could be another good day for Dallara. I just hope it is a safe race.

Look for Quick Thoughts after qualifying and the race here and a full race report on Sunday on Wildfire Sports.