By Dylan Reynolds, The Open Wheel
The biggest weekend on the INDYCAR calendar is here as the Verizon IndyCar Series and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires will race on the historical oval at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race and the Freedom 100. The Open Wheel will be on-site covering the action all weekend so stay tuned to this site and our Twitter page @openwh33l for all of the latest news.
Photo by Parker Hall/The Open Wheel
Indy Lights Preview: Freedom 100 (Entry List), Friday, May 26, 2017 12:30PM (ET) NBCSN – The same 14 Indy Lights car/driver combinations from the last two race weekends are on the entry list for the Freedom 100. Results from testing on Monday show Colton Herta and all of the Carlin cars appear very strong but this one should be competitive through the field (Session 1 / Session 2). Dalton Kellett and Shelby Blackstock had the best results of the returnees from the 2016 Freedom 100 when Andretti Autosport’s Dean Stoneman narrowly edged Carlin’s Ed Jones. Championship leader Kyle Kaiser was slow in testing on Monday but should be a big factor on race day. My pick to win: Colton Herta – Herta was fast and racy in the test on Monday, drives for an Andretti Autosport program that’s always quick at Indy, and has a big chance to showcase his star power and win the biggest race in Indy Lights in front of a big crowd on Carb Day.
Verizon IndyCar Series Preview: 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, Sunday, May 28, 2017 11:00AM (ET) ABC – “Rookie” Fernando Alonso has brought enormous international attention to a race poised to be an all-time classic in a field of unbelievable depth, fantastic racing, and incredible storylines throughout. Previous driver experience shows seven former winners in the field in Helio Castroneves (3), Juan Pablo Montoya (2), Scott Dixon (1), Ryan Hunter-Reay (1), Tony Kanaan (1), Buddy Lazier (1), and Alexander Rossi (1). The current Top 5 in laps led in the 500 are Dixon (434), Kanaan (314), Castroneves (296), Montoya (192), and Marco Andretti (141). Looking at box scores from 2016 and 2015, Charlie Kimball is the only driver to finish in the Top 5 in each of the last two years. If that’s expanded to the Top 10, you can add Josef Newgarden, JR Hildebrand, Dixon, and Will Power to that list. My pick to win: Scott Dixon – In a race that’s almost impossible to predict, I’m going with the 4-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion that’s well-past overdue for his second victory in the world’s greatest race. Dixon has dominated big portions of this race over the years without the wins to show for it for numerous reasons and his incredible pole run and solid start to the year have me inclined to believe he’s drinking the milk in victory lane on Sunday. He hasn’t had the flashiest of months until his epic run for pole but his Honda looks to be the class of a strong Ganassi team. It’s been a while since Dixon has been a contender at the end of this race and if he’s there this weekend I expect him to get the job done.
My fantasy.indycar.com picks: Scott Dixon, Will Power, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti, Ed Carpenter, JR Hildebrand, Ed Jones, Charlie Kimball, & Sage Karam – 10 drivers for $500 for this double-points race makes this the most important race on the Fantasy IndyCar calendar as well. You know my thoughts on Dixon. Power is the class of the Penske team and is the winner of the last 500 mile race in the series (Pocono 2016). Rossi’s incredible execution of a nearly-impossible fuel strategy grabbed the headlines in his win last year at Indy but lost in the shuffle was how fast he was all month as a rookie and the way he consistently moved through the field throughout the race. RHR has been one of the most consistently fast drivers all month at IMS and along fellow Andretti teammate Marco Andretti should be near the front of the field in his Honda all race long. The ECR duo of Carpenter and Hildebrand appear to be the best Chevy has to offer and I expect them to put good finishes together. Hildebrand has a nice streak of Top 10’s going at Indy and Carpenter looks poised to compete for the win. What rookie Ed Jones has done this month for Dale Coyne Racing has been outstanding even as fellow “rookie” Fernando Alonso has rightly stolen all of the headlines. I expect him to put a great result together as the star of the show in DCR teammate Sebastien Bourdais’ absence as a Top 5 or better isn’t unrealistic based on his speed so far. Kimball’s race craft has shown well at Indy with back-to-back Top 5’s and he’s due for a good finish this season. Sage Karam has promised his goal is to finish the race this year and if he fulfills that he’s always shown the speed to garner a great result at Indianapolis.