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Attractive Indy 500 Row 7 lineup: Andretti, Castroneves and Dixon

INDIANAPOLIS — Team Penske’s front-row sweep and Kyle Larson’s Memorial Day weekend dual chase have, naturally, attracted attention all week at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The Row 7 lineup could be just as attractive.

With Marco Andretti, 2020 Indianapolis 500 pole winner and nephew of Hall of Famer Mario Andretti, starting 19th and just inside four-time Indy winner Helio Castroneves and six-time series champion Scott Dixon, open-wheel fans will get a rare glimpse of racing royalty competing against each other.

“Hopefully the airlines knock each other out, that would be fun,” Dixon joked Thursday as he chased a record seventh career series crown against AJ Foyt. “Anything can happen in this race. Hope we all move forward, maybe this line will fight to win.

It’s certainly possible as the trio has a combined five Indy wins along with seven runner-up finishes and 17 top-five finishes.

Castroneves started 20th in the third mission to become the first five-time winner of the race. The 49-year-old Brazilian, Foyt, the late Al Unser and Rick Mears each have four wins.

Dixon, 43, ranks second in series history with 57 career wins, just behind Foyt’s 67 and is trying to become the 21st driver with as many 500 wins. The New Zealander won the 2008 Indy.

The 37-year-old Andretti is still trying to end his family’s curse at Indy. Five family members have made a total of 76 starts on the 2.5-mile Brickyard since his grandfather’s lone victory, and no one – including Andretti’s father, Michael – owns the championship title Coveted Indy. This is Marco Andretti’s first and possibly only series start this season.

“You have to be methodical,” he said when asked about race strategy. “The first two-thirds of the race, I’ll ride it more like a marathon than a sprint. To get that position in the end, you have to be smart in certain situations that may arise. Do you accept it? I will read Helio’s emotions from the beginning and follow him.”

For Castroneves, who is just starting his career, the stakes are even higher. He is currently a co-owner of Meyer Shank Racing and if the Spider can get over the fences again, he will start a brand new winners’ club at Indianapolis.

Don’t bet against him — or anyone else on Row 7.

“I remember in 2021, I was out of IndyCar for about six months — actually about a year out of IndyCar,” Castroneves said. “I jumped in, new times, new people, it was actually more difficult and in the end we were still able to do it. This place brings out the best in everyone, even experienced people like us.”

Rain, rain… and fierce thunderstorms

As the 33 riders on the starting line marched through their media day appearances, one thing became clear – everyone was concerned about rain on Sunday.

The most recent forecast calls for thunderstorms, potentially severe and eighty six% chance of rain on Sunday. The last race to be postponed came in 1997 when the 500 was eliminated on Sunday and Monday before finishing on Tuesday. Since then there have been two rain-shortened races in 2004 and 2007.

To be considered official, at least 101 of the expected 200 rounds must be completed. But it’s not just Sunday that has some drivers worried.

“I hope with the lessons we learned on Monday and the lessons we will learn (Friday), because without rain, despite what anyone else thinks, we will be okay,” Sting Ray Robb said. “I think the car has a lot of natural speed.”

Representing women

While practice and qualifying are top of mind for race fans in Indianapolis throughout the month, sports fans around the city are also closely watching the NBA’s NBA playoffs. Indiana Pacers to the Eastern Conference Finals and the influence of the WNBA’s newest star, the Indiana Fever. rookie Caitlin Clark.

Women have a long history in the 500, dating back to Janet Guthrie’s historic qualifying run in 1977. And

The only woman in this year’s 33-car starting line-up, feels she also has a certain responsibility this weekend.

“I believe I will do the best I can to represent women. I often think, I’m running in the woods or something, I’m thinking, positive thinking, what am I doing here?” said Legge, who started 31st. “But I think if I can make Roger Penske proud, my dad, and if I have a daughter by doing what I’m doing, if I can make those three people happy then I’m doing what I’m doing. the right thing. That’s my mentality.”

Gil de Ferran, left, and Simon Pagenaud in 2009 (Getty Images)

Pay taxes

Simon Pagenaud, the 2019 Indianapolis 500 winner and 2016 IndyCar Series champion, will not race on Sunday. But he will make his 13th consecutive race day appearance at Indy, this time paying tribute to his mentor, the late Gil de Ferran.

Pagenaud will take de Ferran’s 2003 Indy 500-winning car around the Brickyard’s 2.5-mile oval in a parade lap before the race begins. Penske Restoration kept the car in working order and the de Ferran family asked Pagenaud for help with the tribute.

“I am delighted that we will remember Gil winning Indianapolis in this iconic Team Penske jersey,” Pagenaud said in a statement, in which he called the French-Brazilian player his role model. “The color, the helmet, the sounds, the memories and how he taught me everything about this place. I miss the late nights and countless hours with my Yoda talking about all the little details of getting to victory lane at the Speedway.”

Pagenaud will wear a helmet he designed in memory of de Ferran, who suffered a fatal heart attack in December. De Ferran was 56 years old.

Put it

Josef Newgarden wasn’t busy just defending his Indianapolis 500 title this weekend. He is also putting the final touches on a children’s book, “Josef’s BIG Dream.”

The 33-year-old Tennessean and his wife, Ashley, have teamed up with author Andy Amendola on a project that Newgarden describes as promoting the values ​​of hard work and dedication required to compete in the “Scene.” the greatest statue in the race”.

“Creating this book with my wife, Ashley, and Andy Amendola has been an exciting journey and something we are all proud of,” Newgarden said. “I hope families and children who read this book will be inspired to pursue their dreams, no matter how big or small, and be proud of their efforts to pursue them.”


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