May 26, 2023 - News

The casual fan's guide to the Indy 500

Photo illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios; Photos: Justin Casterline, Greg Doherty, James Gilbert and Chris Graythen/Getty Images

You don't have to be an IndyCar expert to enjoy the Indianapolis 500.

  • Here's a casual fan's guide to some of the sport's biggest names and those to watch on Sunday.

Alex Palou: He's the pole sitter, clocked the fastest-ever qualifying run and is the odds-on favorite to win — but there are more reasons to keep an eye on the No. 10 machine.

  • Palou finished second in the race just two years ago and he knows what it feels like to win at IMS.
  • And he won the GMR Grand Prix on the IMS road course two weeks ago.

Marcus Ericsson: He's last year's winner and Palou's teammate on a stacked Chip Ganassi Racing lineup, where all four drivers qualified in the top 10.

  • The 32-year-old Swede is trying to become the first driver to win back-to-back Indy 500s since Helio Castroneves did it in 2001 and 2002 — and he's got a good shot. The No. 8 car turned in some of the fastest practice laps last week and will start 10th.
  • Don't count out CGR's other drivers, two-time winner Takuma Sato and previous champ Scott Dixon, who sportsbooks have as the second-best bet behind Palou.

Pato O'Ward: O'Ward finished second at the Indy 500 last year and starts in fifth on Sunday in the No. 5 car. The 24-year-old driver has earned a reputation as an excitable character who is confident and aggressive on the track.

  • The Arrow McLaren team had a great qualifying weekend in Indy. In addition to O'Ward, Felix Rosenqvist starts third, Alexander Rossi is seventh and veteran Tony Kanaan will be ninth.

Colton Herta: The son of IndyCar veteran Bryan Herta has won in Indy, just not on the oval. Last year's GMR Grand Prix was Herta's last win. He's looking for a breakout weekend this season, and what better time than the 500? The No. 26 is starting 21st.

Honorable mention: Rookie Sting Ray Robb. Yes, that's his real name. Yes, he's named after the sports car (not the fish).

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