Some years at the Indianapolis 500, there is a clear favorite heading into race day. This is not one of those years. Instead, we approach Sunday's 2012 Indianapolis 500 with a wide open field.
If practice times and grid position are any indication, it appears the drivers from Team Penske and Andretti Autosport may be the strongest contenders. Ryan Briscoe of Team Penske will start on the pole with teammates Will Power and Helio Castroneves starting in the second row. Team Penske drivers have combined to win all four IndyCar Series races this year. Power has won thee of the four races and is the current IndyCar Series points leader.
The Andretti Autosport team also has a strong presence at the front of the starting grid. James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay will start on the first row while Marco Andretti will start on the second row. Hunter-Reay finished second to Power at the Sao Paulo Indy 300 on April 29.
Former Indy 500 winners Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti could also be in contention. Then there is J.R. Hildebrand, who was leading the 2011 Indy 500 before crashing on the final turn and finishing second. Hildebrand is tied for seventh in IndyCar points through four races.