The Herald Bulletin

May 14, 2013

Ken de la Bastide: Indy pole is wide open affair

— If you're a fan of open wheel racing, the place to be over the next two weeks is central Indiana with the Indianapolis 500, Pay Less Little 500 and winged sprint cars in action.

The action begins Saturday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the run for the pole followed by “bump day” on Sunday.

There is a lot of speculation that the pole speed for the Indy 500 will be in the 230 mph range. With practice speeds on Monday surpassing the 225 mph mark it certainly appears that 230 mph is obtainable.

Personally I expect the pole speed to be in the 228 mph range. A lot will depend on the weather conditions, temperature and wind speed.

So far the five drivers with Andretti Autosport are running at the top of the speed charts, with rookie Carlos Munoz setting the pace last Sunday and Marco Andretti topping the charts on Monday.

This early in the week the teams are not showing all their cards as pole day approaches. The focus is getting the cars comfortable as the drivers come up to speed.

Right behind Andretti Autosport were the drivers with Penske Racing, led by Helio Castroneves with Will Power and A.J. Allmendinger close behind.

Well down on the speed charts in what has to be considered a surprise are the drivers with the Target/Ganassi team of Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon and Ryan Briscoe.

I would expect Takuma Sato, driving for the Foyt racing team, to be a challenger for the pole position.

With the format on pole day to include the fastest nine drivers making a run at the pole, there should be a lot of drama on Saturday.

Bump day could also be interesting with more than 33 cars expected to contend for a position on the starting grid. There was talk this past weekend of the drivers not being mentioned for a possible ride at Indy — including Tomas Scheckter, Vitor Meira and John Andretti.

There will be a lot of attention given to the attempts by Castroneves and Franchitti to win their fourth Indy 500, joining the exclusive club of A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears and Al Unser Sr.

In other racing news

Leading up to the 65th running of the Pay Less Little 500 at Anderson Speedway, the Must See Racing winged sprints and super modifieds have a busy weekend planned.

Both the winged sprints and supermodifieds will be in action on Sunday at Winchester Speedway. The supermodifieds at Anderson on Monday and winged sprints on Wednesday.

There are 25 teams pre-entered for the Little 500, including former winners Shane Cottle, Eric Gordon, Chet Fillip and defending race winner Brian Tyler.

Making their first appearance at the Little 500 are names well known in racing circles including Bobby East, Jerry Coons Jr. and Geoff Kaiser. Dave Darland and Jimmy Kite are returning to the pavement race for the first time since the 1990s.

All we need now is a little cooperation from Mother Nature.