Indy 500 Starting Grid: Top Contenders to Win IndyCar's Biggest Race

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistMay 25, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 19:  Helio Castroneves the driver of the Shell V-Power/Pennzoil Ultra Team Penske car prepares for his qualifying run for the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 19, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Indianapolis 500 is one of the biggest events in all of motorsports. It's the one day every year when IndyCar takes center stage and it rarely disappoints. With several strong contenders for the most coveted series title, this year's race should have no problem following suit.

Here's a look at three drivers who should be in the mix during the final laps on Sunday. And for a complete look at the starting grid for the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing," click here.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 20:  Ryan Briscoe the pole sitter for the Indianpolis 500 and driver of the IZOD Team Penske car poses on the track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 20, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Ryan Briscoe

After a run of poor finishes in the season's biggest race, Briscoe will start from the pole position and hopes the speed that helped him claim the top spot will carry over to Sunday. He hasn't finished better than 15th in his last four tries.

The Team Penske star has been one of the most consistent drivers over the past handful of years, so his struggles are surprising. He must find a way to use the early-race edge to his advantage so he still has a chance down the stretch. He's let it slip away too many times in the past.

Briscoe has run the race enough times now to understand what it takes to win it. He just has to hunker down and make it happen.

Helio Castroneves

Castroneves made winning the Indianapolis 500 look easy, winning it in both of his first two starts—2001-02—and finishing second in his third start in 2003. He's only won it once since then, however, but he is still one of the field's biggest threats.

He's in prime position to claim another win this year, though. He'll start sixth, which is higher than the first time victories he had in the race. His experience and success at the track give him an advantage over most of the field.

Castroneves has had a strong start to the season with three top-five finishes in four races, giving him the momentum he needs to make another run at the Indy 500 crown.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 18:  Will Power drives the #12 Verizon Team Penske car during Indianapolis 500 practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 18, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Will Power

Power has been on fire lately. After starting the season with a seventh-place finish, he has posted three straight victories to take over the points lead. When somebody is running that well, it's impossible to ignore them.

The Australian has never finished above fifth in the Indy 500, though. It will be interesting to see if his recent success will carry over to a track where he hasn't had as much luck. He will start fifth, which is a good sign.

He's quickly becoming one of the faces of IndyCar, but his ascent to the top won't be complete until he wins the most important race of them all. That could very well happen this weekend.