The sound of open-wheel machines humming along at speeds of over 200 mph, legendary bricks paving the finish line and enjoying a Sunday race with one more day left in the long weekend.
What's not to love about the Indianapolis 500?
While the race doesn't quite have the draw it once did, the Indy 500 remains one of the most legendary races in motorsports. Serving as the crown jewel of the IndyCar season, the 500 is the equivalent of the Daytona 500 for NASCAR fans.
Former NASCAR driver and current IndyCar contender Juan Pablo Montoya spoke about the future for the circuit, per Nate Ryan of USA Today.
"I do believe the future is very bright for IndyCar," Montoya said. "They're definitely on the way up. They really want to put it back where it was."
Given the current lure for the Indy 500 with a strong field that includes Montoya, Will Power, Helio Castroneves and even Kurt Busch, this year's running offers reason for optimism.
Before the race gets underway on Sunday, here's a look at the full race information and a breakdown of the 98th running of the Indy 500.
Indianapolis 500 Information
When: Sunday, May 25 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Start Time: Green Flag at 12:12 p.m. EDT
TV Info: ABC, coverage begins at 11 a.m. EDT
Live Stream: WatchESPN
|2014 Indianapolis 500 Starting Grid|
|4||10||Juan Pablo Montoya|
Indy 500 Breakdown
When it comes to the Indy 500, it all starts with being able to navigate through the difficult track.
One driver who has shown that on a consistent basis is Castroneves. Currently sitting at three wins in the illustrious race, the Brazilian driver is just one win away from being tied for the most in IndyCar history.
Here's a look at the current leaderboard of wins in the Indy 500:
|Most Career Indy 500 Wins|
|A.J. Foyt||4||1961, 1964, 1967, 1977|
|Al Unser||4||1970, 1971, 1978, 1987|
|Rick Mears||4||1979, 1984, 1988, 1991|
|Helio Castroneves||3||2001, 2002, 2009|
As for the current polesitter heading into the race, Ed Carpenter has the weight of his country on his shoulders. Since 1996, only four Americans have visited Victory Lane, with the most recent taking place in 2006.
That's an eight-year drought, marking the longest in the 98-year history, as Chris Smith of Forbes points out. Smith also notes why a win by Carpenter would do wonders for the sport:
As I noted last year, just after American Ed Carpenter became the top qualifier for that race, the return of an American to the top of the podium is important for more than just national pride. The Indianapolis 500,like IndyCar in general, has been struggling with TV viewership in recent years. Last year’s race scored a 3.7 nationwide rating, which was down from a 4.1 the year before and the race’s lowest since 2010. There are multiple reasons for the dip, but principal among them is a lack of a marketable American star (think Dale Earnhardt, Jr. or Jimmie Johnson in NASCAR).
If the future of IndyCar in the U.S. is on Carpenter's back, the pressure of NASCAR currently resides with Busch. The Outlaw will be participating in the Indy 500 then packing up and racing the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday night.
The math isn't too hard; that's a total of 1,100 miles in one day.
No, he's not expected to win the race—something he's never done on the Sprint Cup circuit—but simply finishing the race would be an extreme feat. Even Dale Earnhardt Jr. commented on how monumental the achievement is, per Fox Sports: NASCAR:
Along with these three drivers, current points leader Will Power—who starts on the front line—along with last year's winner, Tony Kanaan, are looking for career-defining victories. When the green flag drops on Sunday afternoon, it's anyone's race to win.
So sit back, enjoy the humming engines and bask in the glory of an epic race during a three-day weekend.
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