Helio Castroneves leads a pack of cars during practice

Track Talk: 2019 Indy 500 Preview

It’s the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500. #TrackTalk brings you up to speed on all the stories surrounding this year’s race.

The month of Simon Pagenaud: It hasn’t been the best year and half for the 2016 champion who was winless in 2018, and off to a slow start this season. In IndyCar racing, there’s no better time to turn a season around then in May. A master class in the rain gave Simon Pagenaud his 3rd IndyCar Grand Prix win, and he parlayed that momentum into pole position for the Indy 500. Can Pagenaud complete the month of May sweep like Will Power did last year?

The Indy 500 Rookie class: Six rookies will take the green flag on Sunday vying not only for the overall win, but also the prestigious Indy 500 Rookie of the Year award. Colton Herta is the highest qualifying rookie (5th) in a class that includes Felix Rosenqvist, Jordan King, Marcus Ericsson, Santino Ferrucci, and Ben Hanley. The rookie story that everyone is talking about? How 2018 Indy Lights Champion, Patricio O’Ward, failed to qualify for Carlin.

And speaking of Carlin: May 19, 2019 is a day Carlin’s IndyCar team will surely want to forget. While part-time driver, Charlie Kimball, safely qualified in 20thplace, his other teammate, Max Chilton, failed to qualify— leaving Carlin with only one out of three cars qualified for the Indy 500.

And speaking of Carlin part 2: Arguably the biggest story of May? Fernando Alonso and McLaren bumped from the Indy 500 field by 2017 Indy Lights Champion, Kyle Kaiser. The Carlin connection? McLaren formed a technical partnership with them for the race.

The four-time club: Surprising stat about the 2019 Indy 500 field? Despite having seven former winners qualified, Helio Castroneves is the only repeat winner on the grid. A sports car driver for Team Penske’s Acura-backed IMSA DPi effort, Castroneves hasn’t had a full time IndyCar ride since 2017. This could be his last chance to join the exclusive four-time winners club occupied by AJ Foyt, Al Unser, and Rick Mears.

Victor Genova is a freelance motorsports writer and the host & founder of the Media People Podcast. You can follow him on Instagram @vicgenova