There are plenty of things that define Memorial Day weekend, but perhaps no sporting event does so more than the prestigious Indianapolis 500.
It can be argued that IndyCar racing isn't as popular as it once was, but even non-sports fans still go out of their way to catch the Indy 500. It is a true piece of Americana that generates a ton of interest and essentially signals the beginning of summer for many.
In addition to all of that, it is difficult to remember a time when there were so many legitimate candidates to take the checkered flag. At least half the field could realistically win this race, so there should be plenty of excitement from start to finish.
Here is all the information you need to watch the 98th Indy 500 on television or via live stream, along with a closer look at top drivers to watch.
Where: Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis
When: Sunday, May 25 at 12 p.m. ET
|Starting Position||Driver||Car No.|
|10||Juan Pablo Montoya||2|
Drivers to Watch
Kurt Busch is one of the most successful NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers of the past decade. He has pretty much accomplished everything over the course of his career with wins galore and a points title to boot, but the volatile racing star is still hungry for more.
The Indy 500 has appealed to many stock car drivers in the past, but competing in it is problematic due to the fact that the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway takes place on the same day. Despite that, Busch will become the first driver to attempt "the double" since 10 years ago, according to NASCAR's official Twitter account:
Running one race is difficult enough, especially the 400-lap Coca-Cola 600. Pulling double duty is a true iron-man test for any driver, though. There is no doubt that it will push Busch to the limits, but he is very much looking forward to the challenge, per David Caraviello of NASCAR.com.
Which driver is most likely to win the 2014 Indianapolis 500?
"It's just so exciting to talk about it," Busch said. "It's just hard to put it all into words."
There are plenty of IndyCar drivers who have been on the circuit for years without even sniffing an Indy 500 win, so it may be tough to imagine Busch stepping right in and kissing the bricks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Busch did manage to qualify 12th, though, so he obviously has a good feel for the track. He has run at Indianapolis many times with NASCAR, so the track isn't foreign to him by any means.
Since Busch isn't racing for points he will almost certainly do everything in his power to win. If he does, it will make for the most interesting IndyCar story in a very long time.
Perhaps no driver in the history of the Indy 500 has come as close to winning without actually doing so on as many occasions than Marco Andretti. Although he is just 27 years of age, this will be Andretti's ninth Indianapolis 500. His four top-five finishes include a second-place result in 2006, but a win has constantly eluded him.
Andretti is often in the mix, but something always seems to go wrong. One can only assume that it's a matter of when rather than if he will win the Indy 500. Andretti believes his car is good enough to do it this year, but he is cautiously optimistic with good reason, according to the Associated Press (h/t LehighValleyLive.com):
This is the biggest race in the world and I have so much respect for it and I want nothing more in my life than to add my name to the list of champions. I feel like I have the car and the team and the crew to do it, but being the ninth year in it and seeing everything under the sun go wrong, I can't be overconfident.
Andretti will start the race in the second row at No. 6, so he has already put himself in position to be competitive. The biggest key will be avoiding disaster, such as a wreck or some type of mechanical issue. Skill will play a role in that, but it is largely based on luck as well.
Luck has never been on Andretti's side in Indianapolis, but his fortune is bound to change for the better at some point.
Much like Andretti, the Indianapolis 500 used to be a symbol of frustration for Tony Kanaan. The Brazilian star has been among the best IndyCar drivers in the world for a very long time, but the Indy 500 was rarely kind to him. That changed in a big way last year when he finally prevailed and conquered his demons.
Kanaan will start in the middle of the field this year at No. 16, so he has his work cut out for him. Kanaan is optimistic that he'll be able to contend, though, as he doesn't see anyone running away with the race, according to Nate Ryan of USA Today:
Tony Kanaan on Indianapolis 500: "No one is going to pull away. It’s going to be a pack race for sure." #indycar— Nate Ryan (@nateryan) May 23, 2014
It's tough to argue with Kanaan's inkling since much of the field is so evenly matched. Helio Castroneves is the only current driver to win the Indianapolis 500 more than once, but Kanaan has a golden opportunity to enter that elite group.
The fact that he has a win under his belt should eliminate much of the pressure and give him an edge if he is near the front in the latter stages. Kanaan is a savvy veteran and a major threat now that he has confidence on his side.
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