Inside Line: Best Chance for May Sweep?

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Rinus VeeKay

Today’s question: What team has the best chance of sweeping the Sonsio Grand Prix and 108th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge this month at Indianapolis Motor Speedway?

Curt Cavin: Chip Ganassi Racing is my pick, and I’ve been saying for some time now that Alex Palou is the driver I most expect will win this “500.” The Spaniard has been unbelievable in the past two big races at IMS despite having the caution come out as he was entering pit road in 2022 – the penalty made him restart at the end of the line – and then last year he took mid-race contact from Rinus VeeKay on pit road. Yet again, Palou scrambled back into contention only to finish just short of the win. The fact he’s also the reigning champion of this road course race further cements him as a driver who I think can – and might – win both races this month. Additionally, it would be foolish to count out Scott Dixon as a double winner this or any May. The six-time series champion has won twice on this road course, including last year’s Gallagher Grand Prix, and one of these days he’s going to win Indy a second time. Given that Palou and Dixon are teammates makes this an easy selection. Can Team Penske win both races? Absolutely. Can another team? Maybe. But for me it’s CGR this year.

Eric Smith: This is a great question. I can make a strong case for seven teams to accomplish this rare sweep. The one that sticks out to me the most is Arrow McLaren. Lando Norris delivered a Formula One victory for the organization last Sunday in Miami. Kyle Larson, an Arrow McLaren driver on the oval this month, won the NASCAR Cup Series race Sunday night in Kansas. While not NTT INDYCAR SERIES-related, wins are contagious, and Arrow McLaren has that winning feeling resonating through the company. For Saturday’s Sonsio Grand Prix, there have been six different winners in the last six years. Will Power won in 2018, with Simon Pagenaud (2019), Scott Dixon (2020), Rinus VeeKay (2021), Colton Herta (2022) and Alex Palou (2023) also on Victory Podium. Pato O’Ward or Alexander Rossi are next up. O’Ward’s last five qualifying performances on the IMS road course are first, fifth, third, fifth and fourth, respectively. He finished on the podium in both IMS road races last year, runner-up in May and third last August. Rossi was third in this race a season ago, his first year with Arrow McLaren, and fifth last summer, giving him three consecutive top-five finishes on this track. For the Indianapolis 500, Larson is THE story after being second quickest in the Open Test in April, but Rossi, a 2016 rookie winner of the “500,” finished fifth the last two years while O’Ward has three top-six finishes in four tries, including a 2022 runner-up.

Paul Kelly: After Mystik Dan won the Kentucky Derby with 18-1 odds, could this be the month of a longer shot to own this May at IMS? Why not? So, my pick is Ed Carpenter Racing. Rinus VeeKay won the Sonsio Grand Prix in 2021 and won the pole for the 2020 Harvest Grand Prix, and the 14-turn, 2.439-mile IMS road course is one of his best tracks. VeeKay also is a threat for victory in the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, as he has qualified in top four for all four of his starts in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” including just missing the pole last year while qualifying second. Team owner Ed Carpenter is an oval specialist and a three-time Indy 500 pole winner, and he continues to drive with one aim – winning the “500.” I think he and VeeKay are capable if everything goes their way because ECR’s cars always have shown speed on the historic oval. Not convinced? OK, how many of you had money on Mystik Dan to win the Derby last Saturday?