On Sunday, just 200 laps separate IndyCar's best from a legendary addition to their resumes.
The 89th running of the Indianapolis 500 is peppered with 33 names that could very well steal the checkered flag, and each comes ripe with a storyline worthy of an individual look.
But fans know about Kurt Busch's Memorial Day double attempt. They know about Ed Carpenter's second consecutive pole position.
Rather than rehash, let's take the time to shed some light on lesser-known stories.
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: ESPN3
The "Andretti Curse"
It has been 45 years since an Andretti won the Indy 500.
Marco Andretti will be looking to break the streak of futility. His grandfather won in 1969, but like his father, Michael, Marco has come close to the coveted triumph numerous times only to fall short.
Marco told Matthew Kitchen of Men's Journal that the 500 is how he gauges his success:
Winning the Indy 500 would really make me relevant in the sport. Marco Andretti, not just Andretti. My team has led almost 1000 laps, but we just need to win more. I wish I had more to show for it. I'm still young, but I never use that excuse. Winning Indy twice, and maybe adding a couple championships, would put me up there with my father and grandfather in the record books.
In a field littered with big names and bigger serious contenders, Marco has fallen a bit to the wayside in terms of publicity. Perhaps that is for the better. Expectations can crush the greatest of athletes.
Marco has the experience and weightless feeling of low expectations to bring prestige to a modern generation of fans who have somewhat forgotten the Andretti name while etching out his own first name as well.
Buddy Lazier's Final Run?
Time is running out for the 46-year-old Buddy Lazier, who last won the Indy 500 in 1996—although that victory was a tad marred by the CART teams' boycott.
Lazier has had a handful of strong performances since then, but nothing to write home about. A firm underdog, even the wily veteran who has raced through the generations says the current crop of talent is the best he has seen, as captured by Tony DiZinno of MotorSportsTalk:
This series is so poised. In the sport, there’s been ebbs and flows, and people fighting each other. But I’ve never seen it as together as it is now, from a competitor’s perspective. We’ll all fight tooth and nail for an inch on track, but as a series, everyone’s pulling on the same rope. I enjoy being part of this event and this group.
Lazier may be near the end of his career at this point and would love nothing more than a marquee victory to go out with a bang. He is a bit lost in the shuffle, but his battle is one to remember on Sunday as he puts his more than 25 years of experience to good use.
The Defending Champ's New Environment
Tony Kanaan seized the checkered flag a year ago, but even he understands and echoes Lazier's sentiments about the field, per USA Today's Nate Ryan:
Kanaan seems at a disadvantage, all things taken into consideration. He also enters this year's edition of the big race with a new team around him and a newfound—rather large—target on his back. Add in gross expectations, and Kanaan might just make for a sizable underdog on Sunday.
Now with the Ganassi team after Dario Franchitti retired, Kanaan has little in the way of excuses. No luck this time around—just a bar set high for a driver who proved better than the rest just one calendar year ago.
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