Ron Burgundy may have thought milk was a poor choice, but he wasn't an IndyCar driver, where the prospect of chugging milk at the end of the Indianapolis 500 is surely a dream come true.
The 98th running of the race will once again feature that tradition, as all eyes in the racing world turn to IndyCar's premier event. There are plenty of racers to watch and storylines to follow, most notably the drought for American drivers dating back to 2006.
Will this be the year a homegrown talent wins the race?
Before we attempt to answer that question, let's review the schedule and viewing information for this year's race.
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. ET
Live Stream: ESPN3
Ed Carpenter, Kurt Busch, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Will Power are probably the United States' best hopes of ending the eight-year drought. But in a stacked field, winning this year's race will be no easy feat.
Carpenter may be a legitimate contender, but if he wins the race a lot of people will be learning who he is, as Dan Wolken of USA Today joked:
But let's return to the stacked field. Two former winners, Jacques Villeneuve and Juan Pablo Montoya, are back in the field. Villeneuve won in 1995, left for Formula One, spent time in a number of other racing circuits and made his way back to the field this year.
Montoya too won the race before departing for Formula One where he remained until 2006, when he tried his hand at NASCAR's Sprint Cup. And he's feeling pretty good about his ride, as he told Tim Tuttle of SI.com:
I'll tell you the truth, I was really surprised when I came on Sunday (for the first Indy 500 practice day)," Montoya said. I went out and said, 'I'm going to take my time.' Full throttle, I lifted on (turns) three and four, second lap, third lap, fourth lap, I'm good. It was nice.
One of the cool things about being with Team Penske, they do such a good job with the cars. The experience here is so good. They really know what they're doing. It makes it so easy for us, it really does.
The race is also going to be fast. Like, the Roadrunner from Looney Tunes on steroids fast (okay, a lot faster than that, even). How fast? Josh Dickey of Mashable breaks it down:
The 33-car group that qualified for the 98th running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing did so with an average speed of 229.382 mph, nearly a full mile-per-hour faster than the previous record, which was set in 2002.
And that field is coming off the fastest race in history, won one year ago by Tony Kanaan, whose average speed of 187.433 mph (which includes much slower laps turned under caution flags) was nearly two mph quicker than the previous record, set in 1990.
After nearly two decades of safety and design restrictions that brought one of the world’s fastest and most dangerous contests back down to Earth, the speed is creeping up on ludicrous again. Come Sunday, when the elite drivers come shrieking down the straightaway at well more than 230 mph, we may be witnessing the pinnacle of competitive automotive velocity.
Oh, that's right—in mentioning the various contenders for this year's race, Kanaan wasn't even mentioned. The man who races like he was, well, shot out of a cannon (pun intended) also happens to be one of the sport's most popular and beloved figures, and he finally broke through at last year's race to earn a much-deserved win.
His teammate, Scott Dixon, is also worth keeping an eye on. The 2008 winner starts in the amazing fourth row that also includes Montoya and Busch. The latter is not only trying to win the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday but also the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day.
For all of you complaining about traffic on Memorial Day weekend, well, just consider that Busch is willingly driving 1,110 miles in one day. Sure, he's getting paid, but he's also driving the equivalent of a trip from Philadelphia to Kansas City.
At least he won't have any kids asking "are we there yet" in his ear. Just his pit boss, perhaps.
Should he even complete both races, it will be a pretty amazing achievement. Should he win one, it would be stunning. The attempt itself is pretty impressive.
What a day it will be at the Indianapolis 500. Old champions have returned. New champions are hoping to emerge. Busch will spend most of the day in a car.
And, of course, milk will be consumed.
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