The hours are ticking down as we near the start of qualifying for the Indy 500, which means it’s almost time to find out who qualifies on pole. But before we get down to the event itself, let’s make some predictions. Who’s going to qualify on pole? And while we’re at it, who’s getting bumped?
I’ll start with that later point. Yes—we’re bumping drivers again this year. The starting field is limited to 33 drivers for the Indy 500 as a matter of both tradition and safety, so any time more than that amount is entered, we’re going to see some bumps. And this year, 35 cars have entered.
Unfortunately, I’m thinking Carlin might not make the cut. I know we have quite a few one-offs and Carlin is a full-time entry, but the team has been hurting lately. I just don’t know if they have it in them to eke out that extra time, especially with Max Chilton behind the wheel. There’s nothing wrong with Chilton himself, but he’s opted out of competing in ovals aside from the Indy 500 for the past few years. It’s going to take a little extra oomph that I’m not sure he can manage.
As for the other bumped entry, I’m going with RC Enerson at Top Gun Racing. This is another team that’s had a rough ride, but with this one, it’s more in the sense that the team doesn’t have tons of money and has struggled to get a car on the grid. Enerson impressed during his few races in IndyCar several years ago, but there’s only so much magic you can make happen behind the wheel of a hot mess.
I’m having a much harder time making a prediction for pole position, since there have been so many surprising competitors in the IndyCar series this year. So, I’m predicting Colton Herta from Andretti. The second-generation Herta racer has been madly impressive since his debut, going so far as to contend for the championship in 2020 and winning a race already this season. I think he has it in him to set a blindingly quick lap and take pole position.