The Indianapolis 500, also known as "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing," is one of the most hallowed motorsports events in the world. Even the most casual of fans makes it a point to tune in when the world's best take to the starting grid every May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
This year's field is loaded with top talent, from top to bottom.
Past champions, rising stars and veteran mainstays will compete for the right to chug a bottle of milk and take home the Borg-Warner Trophy.
Dario Franchitti won the event a year ago—his third career Indy 500 victory. He and Helio Castroneves will be seeking their fourth wins this upcoming Sunday, but there are a few hot drivers who will surely give them, and the rest of the field, a tough challenge.
Here's the official start order for the big race, courtesy of the official website of the Indianapolis 500:
|24||Simona De Silvestro||78|
Now it's time to take a look at the hottest drivers of the 2013 season heading into the Indy 500.
There have been four IndyCar Series races thus far in 2013, and Hinchcliffe has won two of them.
He's simply the hottest IndyCar racer in the world right now. He won at St. Petersburg and at Sau Paulo, defeating a loaded field on both occasions.
Hinchcliffe was unable to complete the race in his other two appearances after getting stranded at Birmingham and crashing out at Long Beach. Basically, the way he's running right now, it's a good bet he'll either win the Indy 500 or fail to finish.
At least he swings for the fences, right?
Last year's top racer, Hunter-Reay won the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama last month and has been smoking hot in qualifying this year.
He won the No. 1 starting spot at Birmingham and at Sao Paulo, while earning the No. 2 spot in Long Beach. While it's true Hunter-Reay wasn't able to capitalize on his excellent starting position in two of those races, it's clear he and his crew have a car they like.
Alden Woods, a beat writer for IDS Sports, was at the track for Hunter-Reay's Fast Nine run and posted a nice clip featuring the pure speed he gets while on the track:
Alden Woods @ac_woods
Ryan Hunter-Reay's Fast Nine run at #PoleDay. #Indy500 https://t.co/zJAJZAKboJ2013-5-18 23:12:38
In five previous attempts, Hunter-Reay has never finished on the podium at Indianapolis. You can bet he's gunning hard for the chance to immortalize himself as an Indy 500 champ this year.
Sato earned his first career victory earlier this year at Long Beach in impressive fashion. He built up a nice lead in the latter half of the race and never let up.
It was also an historic win, as Sato became the first Japanese racer to win an IndyCar series race, per ESPN Motorsports:
Takuma Sato first Japanese driver to win IndyCar race http://t.co/yBCoGByA4Q2013-4-22 01:26:53
In addition to his big win, Sato earned a podium finish at Sao Paulo, finishing in second place behind Hinchcliffe.
Sato and his crew really have things dialed in right now, and it'll take everyone's best effort to win this year's Indy 500. Starting from the No. 18 spot on the grid means Sato will need to race smart and fast from start to finish to come away with his second victory this year.
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