INDIANAPOLIS — Here's the thing about the month of May at Indianapolis.
To win on the road course and especially the oval, it takes confidence, fortitude and a little bit of luck...sometimes more than a little.
Oh, and you have to overtake Team Penske.
This year, perhaps more than any other time in recent years, that will be quite the feat to accomplish.
Will Power's run to the pole position for today's Grand Prix of Indianapolis reinforced the fact that Roger Penske's superteam has the premier driver lineup in the series. All four of Power's teammates will start in the top seven today, including Juan Pablo Montoya, who is back in the Penske stable for the two races at Indy this month.
"He has six months off and he comes back like nothing happens," said Montoya's teammate Helio Castroneves. "We are glad he is on our team. (Qualifying) just shows our cars are very good."
It was a successful first four races of the IndyCar season for Team Penske, which captured two wins, four poles and six of the 12 podiums. Qualifying on Friday only added to the run of success, with Penske drivers set to start first, second, third, fifth and seventh.
The early-season dominance matches 2015 and 2016 when Team Penske won the first five poles of the season.
"To have all our guys up there, we are going to be hard-pressed to beat our teammates," said Newgarden.
While Team Penske has won the last two Grand Prix of Indianapolis races, it is a different story when it comes to the Indy 500. Montoya's win in 2015 is the only one for Penske in the last seven years.
But this year's stable of Penske drivers feels different. While Honda is expected to still be stronger on the oval, the Penske quintet will definitely be in it come Memorial Day weekend. Newgarden has quickly settled in with his new team and has produced results. Castroneves is a three-time winner of the Indy 500 and Montoya has won it twice. Pagenaud has won the Grand Prix of Indianapolis twice, while Power is one of the best all-around racers in the series.
Five drivers — a mix of young and old, wily veterans and hungry youngsters — all capable of potentially sweeping both races this month.
There will be plenty of competition today and in the coming weeks. Chip Ganassi Racing will no doubt be a force, while the six-driver Andretti Autosport will no doubt be strong.
But if there was ever a time for Team Penske to exhibit its dominance at the Brickyard, it is now.
This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Justin Kenny at firstname.lastname@example.org.
GRAND PRIX OF INDIANAPOLIS STARTING GRID
Race Saturday at Indianapolis
(Car number in parentheses)
1. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 129.687 mph.
2. (3) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 128.902.
3. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 128.816.
4. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 128.659.
5. (22) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 128.655.
6. (18) Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 128.373.
7. (1) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 128.282.
8. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 128.044.
9. (98) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 128.027.
10. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 127.498.
11. (27) Marco Andretti, Honda, 127.409.
12. (10) Tony Kanaan, Honda, 127.279.
13. (19) Ed Jones, Honda, 127.248.
14. (8) Max Chilton, Honda, 127.868.
15. (4) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 127.150.
16. (20) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 127.347.
17. (7) Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, 126.925.
18. (14) Carlos Munoz, Chevrolet, 127.264.
19. (83) Charlie Kimball, Honda, 126.922.
20. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 127.071.
21. (21) JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 126.133.
22. (26) Takuma Sato, Honda, 126.677.