2022 Writers’ Roundtable, Vol. 19: Can the best bet double?

2022 Writers' Roundtable, Vol.  19: Can the best bet double?

Today’s question: Who has the best chance of winning the GMR Grand Prix and Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this month, a feat only Will Power achieved in 2018 and Simon Pagenaud in 2019?

Curt Cavin: This challenge requires as much experience and team as speed, and I think Josef Newgarden is the driver with the best mix of these. He has already shown he can win on the IMS road course – he won one of the fall races in 2020 – and his day on this oval is coming. That Newgarden rides for Team Penske, which played Power and Pagenaud’s Indy doubles, should not be discounted. When there’s a sleeper, I think of Rinus VeeKay. He won the GMR Grand Prix last year and started in the top four of both of his “500s” with Ed Carpenter Racing.

Zach Horral: Curt bumped into mine, so I’ll take it from here – I think Rinus VeeKay can do it. Yes, his only win in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES came in last year’s GMR Grand Prix, but this is also the track where he scored his first pole of his career and his first podium finish. He’s good on this road course. On the oval he has used the fast Ed Carpenter Racing cars to his advantage and qualified extremely well – last year he was the youngest front row starter in Indy 500 history. And he proved strong in the Indy 500 of last year, by a 32-lap lead before falling off towards the end and finishing eighth. Plus, VeeKay has something to prove after leaving Barber visibly angry in third, believing he was throwing away a win by not racing Pato O’Ward as aggressively as he should have.

Paul Kelly: Scott Dixon is calculated in more ways than one, isn’t he? First, Dixon’s last win in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES was over a year ago at Texas Motor Speedway in early May 2021. This is the longest drought in The Iceman’s career since he ran more than two years without a Victory Lane between mid-2003 and late 2005, but Chip Ganassi Racing was also hampered by an uncompetitive Toyota engine during that time. The IMS road course has been a strong track for Dixon, who has won or finished second in four of the last five GMR Grands Prix. He won this race in 2020, when it took place in July due to the global pandemic. It’s also safe to say that Dixon is going to win his second Indianapolis 500. When he earned his spot at the Borg-Warner Trophy in 2008, many thought it was the first of many wins in ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing’. But that didn’t happen. Still, Dixon has not been slow in the “500” since then, with six top-five finishes since 2009, including runner-up in 2012 and 2020. Dixon faces stiff competition within Chip Ganassi Racing from reigning series champions Alex Palou and Marcus. Ericsson, but something tells me the old dog still has a few tricks and the vital experience it takes to win in May at Indy on the road course and oval.

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