For the 98th consecutive year, the Indianapolis 500 will officially get underway on Sunday afternoon at the famous Brickyard.
Between the deep field and the exhilarating action on the track, the Indy 500 always promises plenty of intense competition. As if the storylines heading in IndyCar weren't enough, Kurt Busch will attempt the first double in Indy and Charlotte since Robby Gordon in 2004.
Busch spoke about the historic feat heading into the weekend, per David Caraviello of NASCAR.com:
It's just so exciting to talk about it. It's just hard to put it all into words.
... I’m glad that I experienced it. I might sound stupid by staying that I’m glad I wrecked at 220 mph, but if I didn’t put myself in that position I would have done that on Sunday possibly 50 laps into the race. That is how you have to advance through life, is to learn from your mistakes.
While Busch might be one of the biggest headliners in the race, several dominant drivers already in the sport are looking for a monumental win.
Ed Carpenter sits on the pole, but former winners like Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan have hopes of overtaking the American. With the race just a day away, here's a look at the full race information and analysis for the Indy 500.
|2014 Indianapolis 500 Starting Grid|
|4||10||Juan Pablo Montoya|
Indianapolis 500 Information
When: Sunday, May 25 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Start Time: Green Flag at 12:12 p.m. EST
TV Info: ABC, coverage begins at 11 a.m. EST
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Analyzing the Indy 500
He may not be a serious contender to win it all in Indianapolis, but Busch does have a close friend who knows quite a bit about racing the double.
Busch's co-owner in NASCAR, Tony Stewart, has raced in both the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day twice. Here's a look at the list of drivers to attempt the double:
|Indy-NASCAR Double Attempts|
|Year||Driver||Indy 500 Result||Coke 600 Result|
With Stewart being the only driver to accomplish top-10 finishes in both races twice, the Stewart-Haas Racing owner has been giving his driver a wealth of advice.
Stewart spoke about his advice to Busch, per Tom Jensen of Fox Sports:
Those experiences that happen during race day -- you can talk to somebody and you can tell him how bad it's going to be at the start of the race. I guarantee it's going to feel worse to him (Busch) than what we even can describe it to him. It's little things like that -- when you're a fan and you watch the 500 and watch the start on TV, you have no idea how turbulent the air is, you have no idea how bad the fumes are. Your eyes are watering because of the fumes. It's tough and demanding.
It's not just about who has the fastest car, but you have to plan way ahead with everything that you do in the car. A pass sometimes starts three-quarters of a lap earlier than when you actually make the move. Those are things that are different than what you would see in a Sprint Cup car. You can tell him, but until he gets in that situation and experiences it firsthand, he's not going to understand until he gets in that moment.
As for the normal IndyCar drivers, Carpenter is looking to break a streak of his own on Sunday afternoon. 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).
Outside of Carpenter and Busch, some of the top names in the 98th running of the race include drivers who have dominated the course in the past.
While Castroneves is in search of his fourth win at the track, Kanaan is looking to complete something that hasn't been done since 2002. With a win on Sunday, Kanaan would become the first repeat driver to win the race since Castroneves.
Given the loaded field behind them that includes 2000 winner Juan Pablo Montoya and 2008 winner Scott Dixon, this year's race is more unpredictable than ever. Buckle up Sunday, because the Indy 500 guarantees to be a wild ride.
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