Chevrolet is seeking its first Indy 500 victory since 2002, and the manufacturer is off to an incredible start with all 10 of the top qualifying speeds driving an engine from the American car maker.
Chevy's aspirations are just one of the stories at Sunday's 97th Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the field as wide as open as its been in years, especially in the front row.
Two Americans in Ed Carpenter and Marco Andretti lead off the front with up-and-coming rookie Carlos Munoz. Andretti, who has never won at the Brickyard, stands as the overwhelming favorite, and Chevy’s best chance.
No American has drank the milk since Sam Hornish Jr. in 2006, though the U.S. has dominated the field overall with 74 trips to the winners circle.
Carpenter won the pole with a blistering 228.762 mph lap, and is the first owner/driver to capture the pole since the legendary A.J. Foyt in 1975. Foyt would finish third behind Bobby Unser and Johnny Rutherford that year.
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Munoz, a 21-year-old from Colombia, had the next fastest time at 228.342 mph, and is one of four rookies, along with Conor Daly, Tristan Vautier and AJ Allmendinger, sprinkled among the field. Munoz is the first rookie to start in the front row since fellow Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya won in 2000.
Dario Franchitti and Helio Castroneves are in position to make the rare company who have four 500 wins. Penske’s Castroneves, currently ranked No. 3 in the world, has no wins in four starts this year, and the Brazilian last won the 500 in 2009 with a Honda engine.
Franchitti has won two of the last three years, including his 2012 victory with an average speed of 167.734 mph.
Early forecasts call for a slightly overcast day, but a crisp 72 degrees should make for smooth conditions throughout.
Coverage will be provided by ABC beginning at 11 a.m. Eastern Time and the engines rev at noon.
Prediction: Andretti or the stacked Chevy field.