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Five things to expect at the Indianapolis 500

Five things to expect at the Indianapolis 500

F1 News

Five things to expect at the Indianapolis 500

Five things to expect at the Indianapolis 500

The 2020 Indianapolis 500 one of many events to have been delayed significantly by the coronavirus pandemic but 'The Greatest Spectacle in Racing' will take place on Sunday.

The 'Month of May' has become the 'Month of August' in 2020, but that will not make the event any less meaningful for the 33 drivers lining up on the grid.

Marco Andretti qualified on pole position for the 200 lap sprint at the Brickyard, with Scott Dixon and 2017 winner Takuma Sato joining the third-generation driver on row one.

Fernando Alonso is back at Indy to try and wrap up the Motorsport Triple Crown, having already won at the Monaco Grand Prix and the 24 Heures du Mans, but starting 26th, the Spaniard may have his work cut out.

Fernando Alonso - third time lucky?

Alonso returns to Indianapolis following the heartbreak of failing to qualify in 2019.

The Spaniard struggled as McLaren, who were yet to complete a partnership with Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports that would lead to a full-time presence in IndyCar, failed to qualify inside the top 30 and, as a result, had to compete in the dreaded 'Bump Day'.

With only 33 spots on the grid, Alonso missed out by setting the 34th fastest time.

This time around only 33 cars were entered for the 104th running of the 500 and Alonso had no such worries.

Starting 26th will be no easy feat but clever strategy can assist Alonso's charge up the field. We have seen, from his debut, the Spaniard is adept to overtaking around the 2.5-mile oval, something which is much easier said than done with the aero-package supplied by Dallara. If there is anyone you never discount, it is Alonso.

What other history can be made?

Plenty of drivers in the field can create a small piece of history by coming out victorious on Sunday.

Polesitter Marco Andretti will look to emulate his Grandfather's achievement from 1969 by taking the Chequered Flag after 200 laps. Father and team owner Michael was never able to take the flag during his career, so an Andretti win this weekend will no doubt be a popular victory.

Helio Castroneves is already a three-time Indy 500 winner. A win in the #3 Penske in a one-off appearance would draw him level with A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears for the most Indy 500 victories on four. The Brazilian will have it all to do from 28th on the grid.

Castroneves was the last driver to win two Indy 500's in consecutive years back in 2001 and 2002. Team-mate Simon Pagenaud will be hoping to update the history books from row nine.

Finally, the lowest starting position for a winner is 28th, when Louis Meyer won the 1936 iteration. We will have history if any of Charlie Kimball, Max Chilton, Sage Karam, JR Hildebrand or Ben Hanley emerge victorious.

Cautions breed cautions...

When 33 cars are on track at the same time as each other doing north of 200 miles per hour, accidents happen. Especially when the field is this competitive. Lookout, then, as when the drivers start fighting for track position towards the end of the race and things get dicey, trouble can come in waves.

When you get one caution period, you tend to see another one follow pretty much straightaway. This is because the easiest time, theoretically, to get past a competitor is in the opening two laps of a restart. Because of this, drivers tend to go three-wide or move higher up the banking more often than usual, especially towards the end of the race.

Cautions can hugely affect strategy through the race, so pit-stop timing could be key to deciding the victor.

It's never over until it is over

Two reasons why you should never turn off before the final lap. Firstly, oval races - especially Indy - are like games of chess. You need to be in the perfect position entering the final twenty laps in order to make a winning move.

In fact, an unwritten rule is to wait until the final lap to make your move, such is the slipstream effect at the superspeedway. It didn't quite work for Alexander Rossi last year as he fell just short of beating Simon Pagenaud but the pair swapped positions like trading cards during the final stages. More of the same this year and we will be in for an exciting race.

Secondly, JR Hildebrand. Unfortunately, the then-rookie wrote himself into Indianapolis folklore for all the wrong reasons. The American was leading his first 500 with one corner to go in 2011, but instead of hanging back from a backmarker, Hildebrand attempted to overtake the lapped traffic at turn four and slid into the outside wall. His Panther Racing car slid over the line but the late Dan Wheldon stole the win.

Never take your eyes off the racing.

The aeroscreen

There have been plenty of high-profile crashes at the Indy 500 over the years. But for 2020, a new safety device has been introduced and has been proven to be vital this season already.

At Iowa, Colton Herta rode up on the side of Rinus VeeKay's car. But where the nose cone would have previously ridden up close to VeeKay's head-height, the aeroscreen deflected any danger upwards and away from the cockpit.

Alternatively, the aeroscreen will change the aerodynamic behaviour of the cars around the superspeedway and added to the already slimmed down Dallara packages, track position could be more vital than ever.

Before you go...

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