Indy 500 2014: Complete Starting Grid and Top Storylines to Watch

Sean ODonnellContributor IIIMay 22, 2014

Kurt Busch stretches before the start of practice for the Indianapolis 500 IndyCar auto race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Monday, May 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

On Sunday, we have the pleasure of taking in the adrenaline-filled, action-packed Indianapolis 500.

As it does every year, IndyCar's most prestigious race is sure to bring plenty of excitement—not only on race day, but in the days leading up to the event as well.

We've already seen some great qualifying times—most notably Ed Carpenter's average speed of 231.067 mph, which allowed him to earn the pole for the second consecutive year.

A strong field lies in wait, as IndyCar's top drivers prepare for the ultimate showdown.

With the race now just days away, let's take a look at the complete starting grid and most intriguing storylines to watch at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

 

2014 Indy 500 Starting Grid

2014 Indianapolis 500 Starting Grid
RowPositionDriver
11Ed Carpenter
12James Hinchcliffe
13Will Power
24Helio Castroneves
25Simon Pagenaud
26Marco Andretti
37Carlos Munoz
38Josef Newgarden
39JR Hildebrand
410Juan Pablo Montoya
411Scott Dixon
412Kurt Busch
513Jack Hawksworth
514Justin Wilson
515Mikhail Aleshin
616Tony Kanaan
617Sebastien Bourdais
618Oriol Servia
719Ryan Hunter-Reay
720Graham Rahal
721Carlos Huertas
822Pippa Mann
823Takuma Sato
824Alex Tagliani
925Townsend Bell
926Charlie Kimball
927Jacques Villeneuve
1028James Davison
1029Martin Plowman
1030Ryan Briscoe
1131Sage Karam
1132Sebastian Saavedra
1133Buddy Lazier
NBCSports.com

Complete starting grid courtesy of NBCSports.com.

 

Top Storylines

A Close Eye on Kurt Busch

Tom Strattman/Associated Press

On Sunday, Busch will look to become the fourth driver in history to compete in the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 in the same day.

If he can complete both races, it will be a feat in its own. Should he win one—or both—of them, he'll likely go down as one of the all-time greats.

Unfortunately, things didn't start smoothly for Busch, as he suffered a fiery crash on Monday. Here's a look at the incident:

Luckily, he came away unscathed.

Busch spoke with media about the accident after the practice, via IndianapolisMotorSpeedway.com:

I was starting to feel comfortable. That's when I made the mistake of just letting my guard down or settling into that long run-type mentality whereas with an Indy car you have to be on edge. I was trying to find that rhythm and pace myself as I would on (Race Day, May 25) and I just got behind on the adjustments on the car.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. tweeted his support after the crash:

Keep a close eye on Busch at he attempts to make a run at history.

 

Second Time the Charm for Ed Carpenter?

AJ Mast/Associated Press

For the second consecutive year, Carpenter turned in the best average speed during qualifying and earned the pole for the Indy 500.

Carpenter's qualifying speed was blazing, as noted by a tweet from IndyCar Series:

Although, things didn't work out so well the last time around, as he was quickly passed by Marco Andretti and continued to fall back in the pack, finishing in 10th place.

Perhaps the thought of last year was still lingering in Carpenter's mind when he spoke with Curt Cavin of USA Today. Said Carpenter, "I always get extremely paranoid the week before practice here. I have this giant fear we're going to be really slow and really struggle."

Well, he hasn't struggled yet, and he became the 11th driver in the race's history to earn back-to-back poles.

He appears more confident now.

Carpenter delivered this statement to media, via IndianapolisMotorSpeedway.com:

It's all worthwhile being able to be in positions like this at the Speedway in the Indianapolis 500. It's what we have this team for. It's what I get paid to do. This is what we're supposed to do for our sponsors and the team.  It's a lot of fun. My family is here to enjoy it with me. All of them are here this year. Hopefully, we'll close out the month better than what we did last year.

We'll see how that translates to his performance when he takes the track on Sunday.

 

Helio Castroneves Makes a Run at History

AJ Mast/Associated Press

Castroneves enters the Indy 500 as a three-time champion. Only three drivers have ever won the prestigious race four times, with the last being Rick Mears in 1991.

Needless to say, Castroneves has a great chance to join some elite company.

After struggling early in qualifying, the driver looked to acquire more speed in effort to boost his starting position. Jamie Little of ESPN tweeted his brief yet comical response:

Well, it worked.

Shortly after, IndyCar Series tweeted his jump up the standings:

After all was said and done, Castroneves earned the right to start in fourth position. Not a bad spot for a driver attempting to obtain legendary status.

Can Castroneves continue this blazing trend and become the fourth driver to earn four Indy 500 victories?

We'll find out on Sunday.