INDIANAPOLIS — For the last several years, the story coming into the Indianapolis 500 was “follow the red cars.”
Chip Ganassi’s cars have won four consecutive championships. Ganassi and Roger Penske have swept the top three spots in the standings the last three years — and given Penske cars have won all four races in the 2012 season and Will Power has a sizeable lead in the usually-tight IndyCar points standings, it appears that streak won’t be broken.
But somebody has broken the “red car” party. It’s not just Penske, where the primary color scheme on two of his three cars is now black and white thanks to new sponsors. But it’s also a team that was once the dominant force in the series, one that won three championships and two Indianapolis 500s in the middle part of the 2000s — Andretti Autosport.
While Penske’s Ryan Briscoe will lead the field to the line for Sunday’s Indianapolis 500, the next three cars around him will be from the team owned by Michael Andretti — Canadian James Hinchcliffe missed the pole by .003 mph, or about nine inches over a 10-mile run, and will start second. American driver Ryan Hunter-Reay starts third, second-generation driver and 2006 Indy runner-up Marco Andretti fourth. Ana Beatriz and Sebastian Saavedra are also piloting Andretti-owned or prepared cars, and will start farther back in the field.
So, has Andretti Autosport again made the Big Two the Big Three?