As is tradition, the 2013 Indianapolis 500 will be run on the Sunday before Memorial Day and all racing fans will have their eyes on Indianapolis Motor Speedway. NASCAR may be king when it comes to auto racing in the United States, but the Indy 500 is still considered "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing."
With 33 of the best drivers in the world competing to reach victory lane, the Indy 500 is always one of the most exciting and unpredictable races on the IndyCar circuit. Perhaps IndyCar's popularity has waned to some degree over the past several years, but the Indy 500 simply transcends everything as it is an American tradition.
Here is everything you need to know about when and where to catch the 97th running of the Indy 500, as well as which drivers to keep an eye on.
Where: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
When: Sunday, May 26 at 12 p.m. ET
Live Stream: LiveStream.com
Top Contenders to Watch
The 2013 season hasn't gotten off to a great start for Dario Franchitti as he currently sits 15th in the standings, but there is something about the Indy 500 that brings out the best in him. Franchitti is among the all-time best Indy 500 performers as he has won the race on three occasions, including last year's. In fact, Franchitti has won two out of the past three and three out of the past six at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Franchitti is the winningest current driver in the Indy 500, and he trails A.J. Foyt, Al Unser Sr. and Rick Mears on the all-time list as they have each won the race four times. With one more victory, the 40-year-old Franchitti will move into elite company. Although Franchitti will only be starting 17th, he had an extremely strong practice and was the fastest car on Indy or Bust Day, according to Indy Motor Speedway on Twitter.
Ind. Motor Speedway @IMS
Defending champ, @dariofranchitti fastest on #Indy500orBust day 5 with a speed of 224.236mph. http://t.co/iTErVqqfs35/15/2013, 10:56:42 PM
Franchitti is always a threat to win the Indy 500, and this year is no different. He'll have to shake off an inconsistent start to the season if he wants to cross the finish line first, but he certainly has the ability to do it.
Dario Franchitti isn't all alone atop the list of active Indy 500 winners as his good friend Helio Castroneves has won the race thrice as well. Castroneves hasn't had as much recent success as Franchitti as his last Indy 500 win came in 2009 with his other two coming in 2001 and 2002, but he is one of only four drivers in this year's field who has won the race in the past.
Like Franchitti, Castroneves has a chance to make history if he wins again this year. He would become one of the four winningest drivers in Indy 500 history and would take sole ownership of the title of winningest foreign racer ahead of Franchitti. Castroneves has a fairly advantageous starting position at No. 8 as well, so he figures to be running near the front.
Also, Castroneves has a lot of momentum heading into the race as he is third in the points standings and has two podium finishes through four races. If he continues to the race the way he has thus far, he will be a definite threat on Sunday.
One of the most interesting drivers in the entire Indy 500 field is A.J. Allmendinger. While Allmendinger is technically an IndyCar rookie, he has more racing experience than many of the drivers in the field. He spent several years on NASCAR's Sprint Cup circuit and is running a limited schedule this year as well, but the true highlight of his racing season will likely be competing in the Indy 500.
Allmendinger certainly didn't show any rookie jitters as he managed to qualify fifth with a four-lap average speed of 228.099 mph. Allmendinger is in an interesting situation because he is running part time in two different series, so he can afford to take risks and go for the win. According to Bob Pockrass of Sporting News, it is unclear when Allmendinger's next Sprint Cup race will be, so he'll likely go all out in an attempt to win at Indy.
Bob Pockrass @bobpockrass
Allmendinger doing IndyCar pub tour. He says not sure next race in 51 but thinks Finch serious when talking he needs $$ to keep racing.5/20/2013, 4:43:18 PM
Allmendinger has been through a lot over the past couple years as he was suspended by NASCAR for violating its substance abuse policy. He is doing everything in his power to make a comeback, though, and an Indy 500 win would be the icing on the cake.
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