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NTT IndyCar Series Race Preview: The 106th Running of the Indianapolis 500.

For decades, Memorial Day weekend's main showcase in the sports world is the annual running of the Indianapolis 500. Thirty-three of the world's best drivers will be put in the ultimate test of man and machine in order to achieve racing immortality. Legends of motorsports have won this race. A Seven-Time NASCAR Cup Series champion attempts to defy the odds. A four-time winner attempts to achieve something no one has ever done, and seven rookies will be battling it out for a chance to defy everything in order to drink cold milk at the end of 500 miles.

Weather will be no issue on race day as forecasts call for a clear and warm spring day with highs in the mid 80s with a one percent chance of rain.

- The National Anthem will be conducted by Actor/Singer Jordan Fisher.

-"Back Home Again in Indiana" will be conducted by Jim Cornelison.

- Indianapolis Motor Speedway and NTT IndyCar Series Owner Roger Penske will give the starting command.

- Former IndyCar Driver Sarah Fisher will drive the pace car.

- Miles Teller of "Top Gun: Maverick" will be the honorary starter.

16 of the cars will be powered by Chevrolet. (Juncos Hollinger, Ed Carpenter Racing, DragonSpeed, Dreyer-Reinbold, A.J. Foyt Enterprises, Team Penske, Arrow McLaren SP)

17 cars will be powered by Honda (Chip Ganassi Racing, Meyer-Shank Racing, Rahal-Letterman Lanigan, Dale Conye Racing with HMD, Andretti Autosport)

Starting Lineup for the 106th Running of The Indianapolis 500.

Row 1:

The fastest front row in Indianapolis 500 history is led by Scott Dixon who had the fastest ever car to take a qualifying time in race history. Dixon is a former Indy 500 champion and is the odds-on favorite to win the 500. There have been twenty winners coming from pole position in the history of the 500.

Starting second is the 2021 NTT IndyCar Series Champion Alex Palou. Picking up where he left off by finishing second in the 2021 Indianapolis 500, Palou has shown speed all through the Month of May as he and all of his Chip Ganassi Racing teammates have been near the top of the speed charts throughout the multiple practice sessions.

Rounding out Row One by starting third is Ed Carpenter Racing driver Rinus Veekay. In an earlier practice session, Veekay laid the fastest lap in 26 years at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a lap just over 234.7 miles per hour.

Row Two:

Sitting on the inside of Row Two is fan favorite at the Brickyard, Ed Carpenter. Carpenter in 2022 is making his 18th start in the 500 and his 10th as the only owner/driver in the field. In 2018, he had his best finish in the 500 with a second-place finish.

Starting fifth is Chip Ganassi Racing driver and former Formula One racing driver Marcus Ericsson. Making his fourth Indy 500 start and third start for CGR. The Swedish driver has two wins in the IndyCar Series that both came in 2021 at Nashville and Belle Isle. Ericsson's best finish in the 500 came last year with an eleventh-place finish.

2013 Indianapolis 500 Champion Tony Kanaan is making his one and only start in the 2022 Indianapolis 500 as the fifth entry in the Chip Ganassi Racing stable and would hear loud cheers coming from the 300,000 fans in attendance if he took his car to victory lane.

Row Three:

Row Three is shared by two of the three Arrow McLaren SP entries with Pato O'Ward starting seventh and Felix Rosenqvist starting eighth. Both drivers in all practice sessions have been towards the top of speeds with the aid of a draft and seem to have the most stable cars in traffic that I have seen so far. Each have strong cars and have to potential to have a strong run in the 500.

Starting on the outside of Row Three in the ninth position is the highest qualifying rookie in the field is former Formula One driver Romain Grosjean. Grosjean is the highest qualifying Andretti Autosport driver in the field and is making his third ever oval start in his IndyCar career. Grosjean is IndyCar's most popular driver and has an average finish of 27th in two starts on ovals.

Row Four:

Row Four is Champions row as it is led by two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Takuma Sato. Winning the race in 2017 and 2020, Sato is certainly an odds-on betting favorite as he will certainly be advancing through the field. Being probably one of the most aggressive drivers in the field. Look for him to make aggressive moves in order to march to the front.

Starting eleventh is 2014 NTT IndyCar Series Champion and the 2018 Indianapolis 500 Champion, Will Power. The fastest Team Penske driver in the field certainly has not had races go his way in the past but he will keep his nose out of trouble and be there towards the end.

Rounding out Row Four in the twelfth position is 2022 Indianapolis 500 rookie and 7x NASCAR Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson. Johnson is the odds-on fan favorite to win the 500 this year as it would send shockwaves through the motorsports land scape if he did. Johnson has proved he has had speed all month long being in the top three of the board for most practice sessions. In his first IndyCar oval start at Texas earlier this year he had a very impressive sixth place finish. In NASCAR, Johnson has finished inside the top three seven times and has four victories in the Brickyard 400.

Row Five:

Inside row five is Indy 500 rookie David Malukas. Driving for Dale Coyne Racing, the IndyCar rookie lit up Indy Lights in 2021 by winning seven times and finishing inside the podium in 16 of the 20-race season. Malukas is no stranger to the famed oval as he finished eleventh in the 2019 Freedom 100 and had the same result in his first oval start at Texas earlier this year.

Starting fourteenth is two-time IndyCar Series Champion and Team Penske driver Joesf Newgarden. Newgarden has not found as much success at the Brickyard as much as the other ovals in the series. With an average finish in the 500 with a 14.3 and his best finish was in 2016 as he rounded out the podium. It wouldn't be a surprise that he won, but he certainly won't be most people's first choice. He was also the winner at this year's Texas race with a dramatic last lap pass coming to the line.

In the Dreyer-Reinbold Racing office, it is Indianapolis 500 or bust as the team is fielding two cars in its one and only IndyCar Series start this year. Piloting the first entry for the team is Santino Ferrucci. In his fourth ever start in the 500 and never finishing outside the top seven in any of his starts, look for Ferrucci to be one of the contenders in the late stages in the race.

Row Six:

The highest qualifying Meyer-Shank Racing driver belongs to the 2016 IndyCar Series Champion and 2019 Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud. Last year, he finished third in his final 500 start with the powerhouse Team Penske. Now moving to the hometown team of Racing Refresh. Studio 1396 will be cheering on this champion to go two spots higher this year.

Most people remember JR Hilderbrand for going too high in turn four during the 2011 Indianapolis 500 and having one of the most shocking moments in 500 history. Yet the driver who decided to for-go instruction at MIT to pursue his racing dreams is making his 13th start in the 500 and his second with A.J. Foyt Enterprises.

Starting in 18th position is another Indiana native in Conor Daly. Daly led for 40 laps in the 2021 Indianapolis 500 and was unable to recover after making impact with the loose tire of Graham Rahal on lap 118. His best finish in the 500 was 10th in the 2019 Indianapolis 500.

Row Seven:

Callum Ilott is currently in his first full-time season in IndyCar and will be another rookie to make his first 500. A graduate of the Ferrari Driver Academy and was used as a reserve driver for Alfa Romeo during the 2022 Miami Grand Prix, Ilott is coming off his best finish for the upstart Juncos Hollinger Racing team with and 8th place finish at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis earlier this month. In his first ever oval start this year at Texas, he finished in 16th place

2016 Indianapolis 500 Champion Alexander Rossi is making what many are his final Indianapolis 500 with Andretti Autosport due to poor finishes in the past couple of years. Averaging a 28th place finish in his past two start at the 500 due to some poor luck, no other driver is looking to rebound as much as him.....except the driver who starts to the outside of row seven.

Rounding out row seven is Graham Rahal. No other driver had a more heartbreaking end to their 500 hopes last year as he lost a tire coming out of the pits in turn two on lap 118. Rahal always seems to be a contender at the 500 and if he could put a solid day together, he can very well end up with a win that has eluded him since his rookie year in 2008.

Row Eight:

Rounding out the two entries for Dreyer-Reinbold Racing is Sage Karam who as of now will be making his only IndyCar start in 2022. Karam finished seventh in last year's Indy 500 as he battled through the field from his 31st starting position.

Starting beside him in 23rd is Marco Andretti in his only IndyCar start in 2022 as well. It will be his seventeenth Indy 500 start as his best finish came in his rookie campaign in 2006 with a second-place finish. It has been since the 60s since an Andretti went to victory lane and imagine the roar of the crowd can be heard all the way to Nazareth, Pennsylvania if he takes home an elusive Borg-Werner Trophy.

Rookie Devlin Defrancesco is another Indy 500 rookie making the field in 2022. Driving for the famed Andretti Autosport team, Defrancesco has had a disappointing beginning to IndyCar career with a finish no better than 17th at the Grand Prix of Alabama earlier this year.

Row Nine:

2022 Grand Prix of Indianapolis winner Colton Herta will make his fourth start in the Indianapolis 500 starting in the 25th position. In his driving history, Herta won the 2018 Freedom 100 in Indy Lights and has his best finish on an oval in the IndyCar Series with a fifth-place finish at the 2021 XPEL 375 at Texas Motor Speedway. In qualifying, Herta blew an engine and will move to the back of the field at the start of the race.

Starting in 26th is the 2021 NTT IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year, Scott McLaughlin. McLaughlin will be making his second Indy 500 start after having one of the most impressive starts on ovals after never driving them before in his career with a 7.2 average finish on ovals with his worst finish coming in the 2021 Indianapolis 500.

Rounding out row nine is the Four-Time Indianapolis 500 Champion Helio Castroneves. Last year, "Spider-Man" gave Meyer-Shank Racing the most impressive win the team has ever had across all forms of motorsports it competes in. (along with being on the team earned an overall win in the 2022 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.) Castroneves is using the same chassis that brought him victory in the 500 last year and will be a threat towards the end of 500 miles. If he wins, he will be the only Five-Time winner of the event

Row Ten:

2021 Indy Lights Champion Kyle Kirkwood qualified 28th for his first Indianapolis 500. Being the only driver in IndyCar history to win a championship in each stage of the Road to Indy program. Kirkwood has shown flashes of the raw talent that he brings to the series but has not had the results to show for it as his best finish this year was a tenth place run at the Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Dalton Kellett had the biggest incident during the Month of May as he crashed hard into Turn One on Monday's open practice session. In his two previous starts in the 500 he went from a 31st finishing position to a 23rd finishing position in his two starts.

In his one and only start in the 2022 IndyCar Series season in the third and final entry for Arrow McLaren SP is two-time Indianapolis 500 Champion and 1999 IndyCar Series Champion Juan Pablo Montoya.

Row Eleven:

Rahal-Letterman Lannigan teammates Christian Lundgaard and Jack Harvey start 30th and 31st respectively. For Lundgaard, he will be making his first Indy 500 start in only his second ever oval start. His best finish in the series came at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis earlier this month with a ninth-place finish. As for Harvey, who was the 2014-2015 Indy Lights championship runner-up is making his sixth start in the 500.

Rounding out the thirty-three-car field in Stefan Wilson. Wilson made a late entry to the 500 as Team DragonSpeed got a deal together when the month started. Wilson will be making his fourth Indy 500 start as he took no-time in qualifying due to engine issues.

You can catch the 106th Running of the Indianapolis 500 on your local NBC affiliate. Coverage begins at 11:00 A.M. on NBC and Peacock. If you can't watch, tune to Sirius-XM IndyCar Radio.

On Racing Refresh, join us all day in our 24-hour broadcast of the greatest day in motorsport.

Follow me on Twitter @TheCollinBest


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