While May is the greatest month of the year, the end of May brings a little bit of letdown.
Are you feeling it? You aren’t alone. The first couple of weeks after the Indy 500 ends is always a little bit depressing for sure. Don’t worry, though, we’ll get through it together.
Now that I’ve had a few days to decompress — and watch the race on TV — I’m ready to recap the field. Let’s run through the Top 10, shall we?
Winner: The fans! You know what? Let’s start here. In the week leading up to the race, the weather forecast was very foreboding. Somehow, we were able to get all 500 miles in, the drivers on the track put on a great show, and we got a fast and safe race. Can’t ask for much more.
Winner: Simon Pagenaud. Did Simon know something over the last couple of months that the rest of us didn’t? Despite not having the greatest results on paper, his confidence was sky-high, and he swept the Indy GP, the 500 pole, and the race. Pagenaud absolutely dominated the race Sunday, leading 116 laps and powering to the lead whenever he wanted, including in Turn 3 of Lap 199 when he swung by Alexander Rossi. He’s driving at the same level he did when he won the championship in 2016, and heads into the doubleheader in Detroit this weekend as the points leader.
2nd: Alexander Rossi. Between Indy and Pocono, Rossi is proving himself to be a superspeedway genius. His four Indy 500 finishes go like this: P1, P7, P4, P2. At Pocono he’s run: P20 (was wrecked out), P3, P1. And now we have a new version of the usual stoic, Rossi — Angry Rossi. I for one loved it, he was totally road raging and driving out of his mind. Just needed a little more horsepower at the end.
3rd: Takuma Sato. When the cars started back up after the late red flag, how many people saw Sato P3 and wondered, “where the hell did he come from”? Stuck a lap down for most of the race, Sato got back up into the mix at the end of the race, and while he never challenged for the win, he continued his string of impressive finishes. We are quickly approaching the midway point of the season and he is fourth in the points in what to this point has been the best season of his IndyCar career.
4th: Josef Newgarden. Newgarden didn’t win, but he led a career-best 21 laps and picked up his fifth Top 4 finish on the season. While disappointment comes in having a great car all month and not drinking the milk, in the big picture Newgarden comes away from Indy second in points by just a single marker to Pagenaud, and still has to be considered the favorite to win this season’s championship.
5th: Will Power. A quiet month from the guy who swept everything last year. A penalty assessed for hitting a crew member on a stop right at the 200-mile mark put Power at the back of the field, and he raced his way forward but couldn’t get to the front at the end. This was Power’s second Top 5 of the season and fourth Top 10, but even though he is sixth in points, it’s certainly not a season Power was hoping for to this point.
6th: Ed Carpenter. Carpenter referred to the month as “a failure”. I get it, when everything revolves around this race it’s win or go home, but still, ECR did have a respectable showing for the month, putting all three cars in the Top 4 in qualifying and showing a lot of speed all month. It didn’t come together on race day, with Ed Jones and Spencer Pigot finishing 13th and 14th, respectively, but Pigot’s finish was a career-best and he also posted a P5 in the Indy GP, so Ed and his team have a lot to be proud of.
7th: Santino Ferrucci. What a great drive for the young rookie, who came away with Rookie of the Year honors for his efforts. Ferrucci started 23rd and improved by 16 positions on the day in notching his third Top 10 of the season.
8th: Ryan Hunter-Reay. Hunter-Reay is another guy who was a big mover in the race, improving 14 spots from his P22 starting position. RHR is a little in the Will Power camp this season, it’s not like he’s having a bad go of it with four Top 10 finishes, but it just hasn’t all come together for him, either.
9th: Tony Kanaan. There’s no doubt AJ Foyt Racing is down this year, really down, but at Indy TK tends to make his car go just a little bit faster than it should. After four finishes of P15 or worse in the first five races, Kanaan posted his first Top 10 of the year, despite making eight pit stops on the day, compared to the six that everyone else but Sato (who also pitted eight times) took in the race. It was a good day for Foyt as both cars completed the entire 500 miles, with Matheaus Leist coming home in 15th position.
1oth: Conor Daly. Daly really needed a result like this. After never finishing better than 21st in the 500, Daly had an impressive showing for the entire month. He ran the most laps in practice, posted the fastest practice speed of the month and ran in the Top 5 for most of the day on Sunday. I really saw a different side of Daly this month, he seemed to be in better shape physically and spoke with a lot of confidence and conviction all month. He drove like he truly belonged, and hopefully he earned himself a few more races this season.
Pit Lane Parley. So there’s my recap, what do you think Host Mike, Jess and Matt have to say about the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500? You can check it out on all sorts of podcast platforms, or you can find it here on iTunes.
Photo credit: Chris Owens/IndyCar Media