The eyes of the motorsports world are descending upon the Indianapolis 500 this Sunday.
While there are 33 drivers in the field, there are a select few that have distanced themselves from the pack in terms of contention. Sure any driver could hypothetically win, but fans will be focusing on the drivers with the best chances to reign victorious at the Indy 500.
Here is the lineup for the Indy 500, followed by the top contenders based on current standings and history in the race.
Starting Lineup (via IndyCar.com)
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4. Helio Castroneves
Helio Castroneves is one of two active drivers who have won the Indy 500 on three different occasions. The last one came in 2009. Since that win, Castroneves has been solid, if unspectacular at the Indy 500. He finished ninth in 2010, 17th in 2011 and 10th in 2012.
Regardless of that run, Castroneves is not a driver you want to count out at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Plus, he's had a nice start to 2013. He's third in the standings and has finished in the top five in half of his races.
With his recent history in Indianapolis, Castroneves shouldn't be considered the favorite, but he's definitely in the discussion.
3. Marco Andretti
Marco Andretti would be higher if it wasn't for the Andretti Curse. Only once has a member of the famed Andretti family has managed to win the Indy 500. Bad luck has hit any Andretti driver at the most inopportune occasions, and it's gotten to the point where you have to see an Andretti win the race before you can believe it can happen again.
Curses aside, Andretti is a very good driver. He's second in the points standings this year, only 13 behind Takuma Sato. He's finished in the top five twice and in the top 10 three times. If Andretti doesn't win, you should expect him to remain somewhere near the leading drivers.
Starting out at third lets Andretti get out to a fast start and near the top quickly without actually competing to be the leader.
2. Scott Dixon
Scott Dixon has remained one of the most consistent drivers in IndyCar over the last five or so seasons. He won the points title in 2008, and has since finished second in 2009 and third in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Dixon sits fifth through the first four races of 2013.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been kind to Dixon as well. He won in 2008 and has runner-up finishes in 2007 and 2012.
Having already conquered the race before, Dixon knows how to plan a winning strategy. At 16th, he can sit back and make a run for the lead at the most opportune time.
1. Dario Franchitti
Dario Franchitti is the other active driver along with Castroneves who has won the Indy 500 three times.
He hasn't had a great start to 2013. Franchitti is just 15th in the standings with two DNFs. It's an inauspicious beginning, and one he'll look to be atoning for in Indianapolis.
If there's one place where Franchitti can find his groove, it's at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He's been the winner there three of the last five years. It's a bit like when two rivals go against one another and the announcers say, "Throw the records out the window."
With Franchitti, forget about his poor start and focus just on the driver. He's already proven himself on multiple occasions and should be considered the favorite for the Indy 500.