The Indianapolis 500 is one of those events on the sports calendar that attracts a lot of attention—even from mainstream fans who aren't big into racing. The history, pageantry and the race itself make for a unique spectacle.
Dario Franchitti, last year's winner, will not only be hoping to defend his title but also trying to become just the fourth driver in history to win the marquee race four times. Helio Castroneves also has a chance to accomplish the feat.
There are 31 other drivers with dreams of finding victory lane as well. Let's examine where to watch all of the action, followed by a preview of the race and a prediction for which driver will earn the coveted Indy 500 victory.
Where: Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Ind.
When: Sunday, May 26 at 12 p.m. ET
Live Stream: IndianapolisMotorSpeedway.com
Ed Carpenter, an Indianapolis native, won the pole with an average qualifying speed of just under 229 mph. He hopes the ideal position will help him improve on his previous results in the race. He has just one top-five finish in nine starts.
Ind. Motor Speedway @IMS
Congratulations to @edcarpenter20! He is the pole sitter for the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500! http://t.co/4OpMNfH3kZ2013-5-18 23:17:32
Carpenter will be joined on the front row by Carlos Munoz and Marco Andretti (full starting grid). All three of them are searching for their first Indianapolis 500 victory. It's just one of multiple storylines that could end up dominating the day.
Of the lead trio, Andretti has the best chance of picking up the win. He finished second in his first career Indy 500, which came in 2006. He's added a couple third-place finishes since, but this represents his best chance to finally get the victory.
Castroneves is the better bet of the two drivers seeking their fourth win. He will start eighth, and his top qualifying speeds were right in line with the leaders. The same can't be said for Franchitti, whose car was off the pace—forcing him to start 17th.
IndyCar series leader Takuma Sato will start alongside Franchitti in 18th. He's coming off a pair of strong finishes, including a win in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, but his car will need to be better on race day for him to contend (image via Instagram).
One other driver to keep an eye on is J.R. Hildebrand. He let a late lead slip away two years ago, but he will once again be starting inside the top 10. That prior experience will help him should he find himself near the lead during the closing laps this year.
It should be an ultra competitive race that goes right down to the wire. In the end, Andretti is the pick to kiss the bricks.
Prediction: Marco Andretti