The Indianapolis 500 is one of those sporting events that always generates plenty of hype. Even sports fans that aren't normally IndyCar viewers will tune in to watch the biggest race of the season from the storied Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Reigning champion Tony Kanaan, who finally crossed the finish line first after several close calls over the years, returns with hope of defending. He faces a very deep field of contenders, which should make for an intriguing race right down to the final lap.
Above all else, it's IndyCar's day to shine—and it rarely disappoints. So let's check out all of the important details for Sunday's race along with a preview of what to expect in the 98th running of the Indy 500.
Indy 500 Viewing Information
Where: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
When: Sunday, May 25, at noon ET
Winning the Indy 500 is a career-defining moment, much like the Daytona 500 in NASCAR. It's possible to have an outstanding career across all the other races, but without an Indy 500 victory a driver's resume will have a void.
Kanaan was a good example. He had racked up double-digit wins and won a series championship, but he never came out on top in the biggest race of them all despite some close calls. It wasn't until his win in the event last year that he finally got the acclaim he deserved.
The veteran Brazilian was surprised by the reaction when he finally captured the elusive Indy 500 win. Ed Hinton of ESPN passed along his comments about the scene as his celebration began:
I was overwhelmed how I made so many people happy on a day that was the best day of my life. I was touched by it. Nothing will top that ... that feeling of seeing 300,000 people genuinely happy for me.
Kanaan faces a difficult challenge if he wants to repeat as champion, though. He'll start from 16th after a mediocre qualifying run.
Ed Carpenter will lead the pack to the line for the second straight year after being the only driver to average over 231 mph during his four qualifying laps. He hopes this time around he'll be able to convert that success into a win after finishing 10th last year.
A couple other big names to watch are Will Power and Helio Castroneves. Both are starting in the top five. Power is off to an outstanding start this season while Castroneves has had unmatched success in the race among active drivers.
In fact, he's trying to become just the fourth driver in history to win the race four times. A.J. Foyt, Al Unser Sr. and Rick Mears are the others. Given the strength of his car, he's got a great chance to join that list on Sunday.
The other storyline to watch is Kurt Busch. He's starting 12th, and it would be a surprise if he's a legitimate contender during the final laps. The type of history he's trying to make is different as he attempts to compete in the Indy 500 and NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 on the same day.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. wished Busch well in his attempt to complete "The Double:"
There's no doubt his effort is going to increase the amount of interest in both races. It's an endurance challenge, both physically and mentally, which is why so few drivers have attempted it. Tracking him throughout the day will be an event.
As for the Indy 500 itself, it should be a highly competitive race with several drivers in serious contention over the final 10 laps. It seems like Castroneves is in good position to add another Indy trophy, and he won't let it slip away.
Prediction: Helio Castroneves