Friday, May 28, 2010

Can Helio Castroneves win the Indianapolis 500 from the pole and become a four-time winner?

Helio Castroneves wins Indy 500 pole, Tony Kanaan bumps his way in as Paul Tracy is out.

Dario Franchitti, Helio Castroneves, and Will Power on the front row for the 2010 Indianapolis 500. Image Credit: Indy500.com.

Last Saturday at the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway was pole day to determine the starting lineup for this Sunday’s Indianapolis 500. In the past, the speedway had four full days of boring qualifying to sit through that included a pole day and a bump day. Thankfully for 2010, the speedway/series cut the qualifying back to just two days and introduced the fast 9.

Heading into last Saturday, I had a feeling that it was going to be a classic Penske Racing vs. Ganassi Racing for the pole and I was right. Of course most U.S. open wheel racing fans could have guessed the same thing. All though out the day, it was Penske Racing vs. Ganassi racing.

One of the new additions to pole day is the fast 9 where the top 9 qualifiers in the regular session would square off to see who would win the pole and who would start where. But it didn’t take that long for a winner to emerge as the first qualifier Helio Castroneves would take the pole and never really look back.

I really don’t know what it is with Helio Castroneves and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but wow what a connection Helio has with this speedway. Not to be outdone, his teammate Will Power will start second and Ryan Briscoe starts 4th.

One part of the day had to hearing Chip Ganassi screaming fowl. It’s was just too funning watching him have a giant issue with Penske racing sending his driver out to run out the clock at the end of the session just to keep Helio on the pole, when in fact Penske really wasn’t. Considering Ganassi has done it in the past. By the way the two Ganassi racing cars will start 3rd (Dario Franchitti) and 6th (Scott Dixon).

As for the format for qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 with 3-4 attempts, I really don’t get it. Call me weird, but NASCAR’s one attempt to qualify works great by me, maybe I could see 2 attempts, but 3 or 4, please, what a waste. Put more thought into it.

However those attempts would become a huge game changer on Sunday for bump day. I have to say the bump day sure did live up to its name, but what a nightmare to watch on television, didn’t anybody on these crews pay attention to the speeds in the last hour.

We started out with Tony Kanaan having to bump his way into the field after a Saturday crash and a Sunday morning crash. People in the media were watching the coverage and thought that the network was replaying Kanaan’s crash from Saturday all the while they were looking at a live feed of Tony Kanaan crashing for a second time. I felt so bad for Tony Kanaan, here is a driver that has had such bad luck at the Brickyard and two crashes in two days didn’t help any. But he got in (33rd) and that’s what count.

However the same couldn’t be said Paul Tracy as in the late stages of bump day, made a mistake and withdrew his 32nd time to better his position over 33rd Howard, but couldn’t. The whole this was a game of leap frog with Jay Howard vs. Paul Tracy with neither driver getting into the field, because neither had the speed to get back in.

Instead it was a crash out Sebastian Saavedra that would make the field with a team of a few guys that worked out of a truck. What a story there, hats off.

Like I said, you win some and you loss some, but for Tracy, he should have kept his time, but that’s life.

A couple of notables to watch for on Sunday are:

- Alex Tagliani starts 5th
- Graham Rahal starts 7th
- Justin Wilson starts 11th
- Danica Patrick starts in the middle of row 8.

Can Helio Castroneves win the Indianapolis 500 for the fourth time?
I believe that there is a good chance that not only the winner of the 2010 Indianapolis 500 could be out of the Penske Racing stables, but could come from the pole with Helio castroneves. Helio seems to have a huge bond with Indy and considering he won back in 2001, 2002 and that emotional victory last year in the Indy 500 after the whole tax evasion thing, he is poised to win for a fourth time.

If Helio where to win on Sunday, he would join an exclusive club for drivers who have won the Indy 500 four-times. That’s history if he can do it and Helio could join A.J. Foyt (1961, 1964, 1967, 1977), Rick Mears (1979, 1984, 1988, 1991) and Al Unser (1970, 1971, 1978, 1987). That would be cool to see, go Helio.

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