Indy 500 Starting Grid: Top Contenders to Watch for in Sunday's Historic Race

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Indy 500 Starting Grid: Top Contenders to Watch for in Sunday's Historic Race
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Clear your schedule and prepare your living room accordingly, because the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" is mere hours away.

The 96th running of the Indy 500 will begin at noon Eastern on Sunday, with 33 of the world's best IndyCar drivers vying for a spot in the history books.

Last year's winner, the late Dan Wheldon (R.I.P.), will unfortunately not be around to defend his title, so we will have a new champ at this year's running. Here are the top contenders to win some well-deserved bragging rights and that shiny Borg-Warner Trophy.

For the full starting grid, click here.

Helio Castroneves

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The Brazilian is always a threat at the Indy 500, as he has won the historic race three times in his career.

Castroneves took home the trophy in 2001, 2002 and 2009, and I wouldn't be surprised if he added a fourth to his collection on Sunday.

Castroneves already has one win this season (Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg), and he's in a good starting spot at No. 6.

Look for him to use his knowledge of the track and general driving skill to put himself in contention down the stretch. 

Marco Andretti

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The young Andretti will be looking to become the second member of his family to win the Indy 500, following in the footsteps of his grandfather Mario.

He's come close to claiming the title before, registering three top-three finishes, including his second-place finish as a rookie in 2006. In that race, he lost by just 0.0635 of a second to champion Sam Hornish Jr.

Andretti hasn't done much this season, but he's proved before that he knows how to succeed at Indy. Don't be shocked if the young man with the great driving genes comes away with the victory.

Ryan Briscoe

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Briscoe secured the pole position for this year's race after stringing together a four-lap average of 226.484. This is good news for the Australian, as 20 pole holders have gone on to win the race.

Briscoe has also had some prior success at the Indy 500, registering one top-10 (2005) and one top-five (2007) finish. Since then, however, he's failed to finish better than 15th.

He'll look to change that on Sunday, when he should be considered one of the favorites.

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