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Rinus Veekay leading Carb Day practice

Source: Paul Hurley/Penske Entertainment / other

SPEEDWAY, Ind. — As final practice came to an end for Carb Day on Friday, the phrase “you can win from anywhere” became ever so apparent.

Four of the top five fastest drivers for Carb Day practice will start 13th or worse in two days time, led by the “Iceman” himself Scott Dixon.

“Definitely a lot of competitive cars out there, so it’s going to be one tough race. As the track got a little bit warmer out there with track temp especially, it got pretty greasy and pretty slippery,” Dixon said of the session.

“But yeah, I think the 9 car has been fairly strong in race running, but unfortunately, I think there’s about 20 others that are really strong, as well,” he added.

Dixon will start 21st on Sunday, his worst starting position ever in the Indianapolis 500. Marcus Ericsson, who won the race in 2022, will start even further back. Nearly as far back as you can get in 32nd.

Ericsson had a tough week of practice leading up to qualifying which included a wreck forcing him to go to a slower, ill-prepared back-up car. But, he was able to get the No. 28 Andretti car in the show.

“If we have a good race car, which we believe we will have on Sunday, you don’t need to overtake 15 cars in the first 10 laps. Like, it’s a long race,” Ericsson said. “You just need to pick off a few every stint and do a good pit sequence.”

A good car is certainly what Ericsson had in Carb Day practice. He was one of the aforementioned five drivers starting 13th or back who was in the top five as far as overall speed. However, racing ability is what counts at this point, and Ericsson also proved he has that as well.

No driver has ever won the Indy 500 from the last row. Ericsson is joined by Katherine Legge (31st) and Graham Rahal (33rd).

“I’m not so stressed about starting in the back. I’m more focused on the last sort of fine-tuning on my race car,” Legge said. “If I can get that feeling I need from it, you can win from anywhere on this grid.”

There is that phrase again.

“Our race cars seem to be fairly competitive speed-wise,” Graham said. “I just think there’s stuff going on in qualifying. We go to race running, I mean, we’re right there.”

Rahal was 17th quickest in Carb Day practice. 

He’s not on the last row, another among the “fast five” on Friday was Helio Castroneves, who is starting 20th next to Dixon. Castroneves opened last week with +4000 betting odds to win his fifth Indianapolis 500, by the end of the week those odds were cut in half. He is +500 to finish in the top three.

All this lends credence to the fact that you really can “win this race from anywhere.”