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Who Has the Best Chance To Win The 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500?

Who’s got the best chance to win the historic 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500? The field is as difficult to handicap as it has been in years. Fast cars are starting in the back. Smaller teams have found significant speed. This 500 is almost impossible to predict, but that doesn’t stop us.

Here’s Jeff Olson’s top 10:

10. Ed Carpenter. This would be a fairy tale ending. Carpenter, the local good guy, is sensational on ovals. Sarah Fisher, the popular former racer turned team owner, has directed a group that engineered an extremely fast car. It’s not out of the realm.

9. Townsend Bell. He’s the always-fast king of Indy 500 one-offs who finished fifth in 2009. This Sam Schmidt entry was overlooked in the celebration of Alex Tagliani’s pole position, but it’s every bit as fast. Look for it to be close enough to strike at the end.

8. Buddy Rice. Panther Racing has three consecutive second-place finishes at Indy. They’ve also got a driver who might be better now than he was when he won the 500 in 2004. Rice and Panther both understand this race completely. Victory would not be shocking.

7. Oriol Servia. It’s unfair to discount a front-row starter this far, but Newman/Haas hasn’t had a great track record recently. The fact that the delivered such a fast car at Indy is a positive sign for the future. No question that Servia has what it takes.

6. Dan Wheldon. Nobody thought a one-off with Bryan Herta’s team would amount to this much potential. Except, perhaps, the team itself. Wheldon is tenacious and smooth at Indy, and he’s got a significant chance here.

5. Helio Castroneves. The three-time winner and the team that has won the race a record 15 times are starting mid-pack with the No. 3 car, but that’s not much of a concern. If he can work his way forward early, he’ll be a contender at the end. Helio is magical at Indy.

4. Alex Tagliani. There isn’t a better story of overcoming adversity than this. Tagliani’s FAZZT Race Team was on the brink of collapse when Sam Schmidt bought the assets and put it back on course. Tagliani has been the fastest throughout practice and qualifying. Will he be the fastest throughout the race?

3. Dario Franchitti. He’s won it twice in his last three attempts. Despite the disappointment of qualifying, he’s only a blink behind the leaders at the start. He’s patient and meticulous, and that’s why he’s been so good at Indy in recent years. Dario is the complete racer, among the best – if not the best – of his era.

2. Will Power. For all the talk about smaller teams contending this year, the 100th Indy 500 is likely to come down to the two teams that have combined to win the race eight of the past 10 years. Power isn’t given credit for his oval skills. A win here is proof that he’s more than just a road racer.

1. Scott Dixon. Had he not run out of fuel in the final yards of his qualifying run, he would have won the pole. Chip Ganassi’s team has recent history on their side at Indy – they’ve two of the last three 500s – and Dixon has early track position on his side. If he can stay up front and out of the fray – especially on the double-file restarts – he’ll be in good shape at the end.

What’s your take on the eve of the race? Give us your list of favorites and join the discussion on our Facebook page.
 

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