Today’s question: Who will win the NTT P1 Award as the pole winner for the 107th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge?
Curt Cavin: This is so difficult given the competitiveness of the field and the unpredictability of Indy qualifying, and I’d really like to select Rinus VeeKay, but I can’t. I’m sticking with Scott Dixon to win a third pole in succession, although he’s going to get quite the challenge from his teammates, particularly Marcus Ericsson and Takuma Sato. I chatted with Rick Mears this week, and he would really like to remain the only driver in history with six career Indy poles, but he, like me, thinks it’s a matter of time before Dixon matches. That time is Sunday.
Joey Barnes: There might be roughly 21 drivers that you look at to advance to the top 12, but there’s really only a handful that I feel are willing to push that extra bit to be in the Firestone Fast Six and be brave enough to battle for the NTT P1 Award. That shortlist includes the likes of the Ganassi Gang, especially six-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Scott Dixon. The variables of unique qualifying draws, cool track temperatures and hitting the track with a light – or no – wind certainly play a part, too. There is no real gauge to go by, but honestly, I feel like this year’s pole belongs to Colton Herta. Everything I saw out of Fast Friday from him, and the rest of Andretti Autosport for that matter, have me convinced they have something to fight with. Hell, it was only two years ago Herta started in the middle of the front row after qualifying second. Plus, I like the swagger Herta has come in with during the Month of May; there’s a confidence there that feels like it is just a matter of time – and usually, the results follow.
Paul Kelly: I’m getting serious 2020 vibes this week, when Marco Andretti was at or near the top every day of practice and then delivered with his first Indianapolis 500 pole. This year’s version of Marco is two-time “500” winner Takuma Sato, who has led two of the three practice days and turned the fastest practice lap since 1996 – 234.753 mph – and the best four-lap qualifying sim – 233.412 – on “Fast Friday.” Everything is in place for Taku: He’s happy with his car, he drives for the dominant team so far this month at the Speedway in Chip Ganassi Racing, and his “no attack, no chance” style means he’ll leave nothing in his fire suit after his four-lap run. At 46, Sato won’t be the oldest pole winner in Indy 500 history; Cliff Bergere still owns that record at age 49 in 1946. But it still will be an incredible story and further proof that Sato chugs from the fountain of youth perhaps more than any NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver.