“Hopefully we have the feeling of balance we need in the Target car, we had a very busy Carb Day and hopefully the Honda engine is stronger than the Chevy but we are ready for a battle,” Franchitti said. “Early in the race we will try to get settled in and then move to the front if we can. Last year we were last after getting spun in the pits on Lap 15 and came back and won it. You can win it from the back but we have to see what we have early. The conditions will be different than what we saw in practice and we will give it a go.
“It would be a huge honor to win such an amazing race as the Indianapolis 500 four times but right now my mind is focused on trying to do everything I can do in my power to make this happen today.”
Castroneves doesn’t want Franchitti to get the four-time winner’s club before he does and is intent on finding a way to make it to the checkered flag.
“You can never underestimate Dario Franchitti or Scott Dixon, “Castroneves said. “They can make it happen. I know what to expect but I’m not focused on them. I’m focused on my work and hopefully that is enough to get another one.
“I feel very good. Our car looks very strong. Now, it’s a matter of putting ourselves in a great spot. It’s a matter of us to keep pushing forward. That is our goal. I think it’s great that there are two drivers attempting to win for the fourth time. That is what builds tradition and fan interest and history. But I have Rick Mears on my side because he is my spotter and that gives me great confidence. If I have questions he has the answers, even if I don’t want to hear them. He is a mentor to all of us.
“I would love to give Roger Penske a 16th Indy 500 win. Me and all of my teammates really want to do that. The milk at the end of the race tastes like victory at Indianapolis.”
Castroneves starts in the middle of Row 3 with defending IndyCar champion Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport on the inside and another Andretti Autosport driver James Hinchcliffe on the outside of the third row.
And then there is local hero Ed Carpenter, who won the pole for the 97th Indianapolis 500 and will lead the field to the green flag at the start. Carpenter’s four-lap average to win the pole was 228.762 mph in a Dallara/Chevrolet.
“This week has been pretty crazy but fun,” Carpenter admitted. “We had 16 appearances Thursday, so it was busy. But you have to enjoy it. You never know when this situation will happen again. I feel super confidant that we have the tools and the team to win this race. We won the last 500-miler in Fontana so we know we can do it. We just have to execute and go with the game plan. It’s easy to get excited with this kind of car. I just need to remain calm and be ready to run a strong race.”
There are five Andretti Autosport drivers starting in the first nine with rookie Carlos Munoz starting in the middle of Row 1 with teammate Marco Andretti starting on the outside of that row. Andretti driver E.J. Viso starts on the inside of Row 2 with Team Penske rookie driver A.J. Allmendinger in the middle alongside teammate Will Power. The other Andretti drivers include Hunter-Reay inside Row 3 and Hinchcliffe outside Row 3.
Other storylines to watch will be the engine battle between Chevrolet and Honda. Chevrolet drivers swept the top 10 positions in qualifying but Honda was the fastest on Carb Day with Simon Pagenaud and took six spots in the top 10.
There are four rookies in the field led by Munoz in Row 1, Allmendinger in Row 2, Tristan Vautier in the inside of Row 10 and Conor Daly inside Row 11. There are four woman in the field including Simona de Silvestro, outside Row 8; Ana Beatriz, middle of Row 10, Pippa Mann, outside Row 10 and Katherine Legge, starting 33rd.
There are plenty of other storylines that will be determined in the course of the race but one thing is certain — the Indianapolis 500 usually delivers in a monumental way.