Sunday, May 29, 2016

My Picks to Win the Indianapolis 500

Prognosticators love to show off their knowledge of auto racing and predict the winner of the Indianapolis 500. I'm no different. I've got a couple favorites to win the 100th running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

Based on his experience and skill, and he fact that he's with one of the big powerhouse teams, I think Frenchman Simon Pagenaud has an excellent chance to win it all. The Jean Gerard lookalike has been making sure people know his name since he burst on the scene in 2011. He won two races in 2013 and 2014, but didn't pick up any wins in 2015. But he's won three races out of five so far in 2016, including two poles.

And he's driving for Team Penske, one of the two best-funded teams in the race this year. Roger Penske is so integral to the Indianapolis 500 that he's driving the pace car this year; this is also his 50th year as a race team owner. Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing are two of IndyCar's Death Stars, and they're always dominating the top 10 of every race.

Put those two factors together and Simon Pagenaud has a great shot at winning the race.

Of course this means Will Power, Scott Dixon, Max Chilton, Tony Kanaan (Ganassi), and Helio Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya (Penske) are also favorites to win, as they usually are.

So I'm going with Simon as my favorite.

I'm also keeping a sentimental eye on Stefan Wilson, brother of Justin Wilson, who died last August in the race at Pocono. Justin was the first racer I ever interviewed, and he was patient with me, let me figure out how to interview a driver properly, and even gave me some suggestions of things to know.

When I mentioned this to Stefan at the Media Day interviews, he said he's been hearing similar stories from other journalists and fans, about how his brother was quite the gentleman. Stefan talked about how Justin has been a role model for him growing up and in his career. So I'm hoping Stefan's rookie year is the first of many amazing years here at the 500 and in IndyCar racing.



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