To date, 69 different drivers have won the Indianapolis 500. But two names come to mind first and foremost when it comes to the Greatest Spectacle in Racing – Borg and Warner. The famed trophy, named after the Borg-Warner Automotive Company that commissioned the hardware in 1935, is up for grabs Sunday.
Here are five drivers to watch when the green flag drops on the 101st running of the Indy 500 (noon, ABC):
It’s been an eventful week for Dixon, who starts from the pole for the third time in his career. Hours after earning the right to lead the 33-car field to the green flag he was robbed while waiting in a Taco Bell drive-thru. The four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion was a blur posting the fastest four-lap qualifying speed of 232.164 mph last Sunday. That’s the fastest four-lap effort since Arie Luyendyk’s 236.986 in 1996. Dixon has finished eighth or better in nine of his last 11 Indy 500 races. In his starts from the pole, Dixon finished fourth in 2015 and won in 2008. The driver for Chip Ganassi Racing also has a pair of runner-up finishes (2007, 20012).
The Spaniard and two-time Formula One world champion gave up the glitz and glamor of the Monaco Grand Prix to spend his weekend in Indiana. Few rookie appearances have generated as much buzz as Alonso’s Indy 500 appearance. The Andretti Autosport driver has impressed early in picking up the oval circuit. But can he become the 11th F1 driver to win the Indy 500? Alonso, driving for Andretti Autosport, starts fifth in the middle of Row 2 with a qualifying average of 231.300 mph.
The Andretti Autosport driver is out to prove last year’s fuel-mileage win as a rookie was no fluke. Despite making history last year as the 10th rookie to win the Indy 500 (the first since Helio Castroneves in 2000), it might not be on his side this time around the historic oval. The last back-to-back winner was Castroneves in 2000 and 2001. In all, five drivers have won consecutive Indy 500s (Wilbur Shaw, Mauri Rose, Bill Vukovich, Al Unser and Castroneves). Rossi starts third on the outside of Row 1 after his four-lap qualifying average of 231.487 mph.
What’s an Indianapolis 500 without an Andretti? The family has 72 starts between five family members, including 12 from Marco, and one win to show for it with Mario’s victory in 1969. Andretti finished 13th last year to break a streak of four straight top-six finishes. His best – and most heartbreaking – finish was second as a rookie in 2006 when winner Sam Hornish Jr. passed Andretti at the line and beat him by 0.064 seconds. Andretti starts eighth in the middle of Row 3 with a qualifying average of 230.474.
The three-time winner had his worst qualifying effort in 17 attempts and sits 19th on the grid. It’s just the fourth time he’s started outside the top 10. Still, Castroneves has the experience to maneuver his Team Penske car to the front of the pack and join A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears and Al Unser as the only four time winners. Until this year, Castroneves’ worst starting position was 16th in 2001. He finished 17th.
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