The 2014 Indianapolis 500 is nearly here, and the biggest names in IndyCar racing will compete for the chance to claim the sport's most illustrious crown.
A total of 33 drivers will take to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway track on Sunday, all of which will have the opportunity to assume glory throughout the 200-lap race. But only one will be named champion in the end and see their name enter the record books.
Let's dive in and take a look at everything you need to know for the upcoming Indy 500.
2014 Indianapolis 500 Viewing Information
When: Sunday, May 25, at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Start Time: Green Flag at 12:12 p.m. EDT
TV Info: ABC, coverage begins at 11 a.m. EDT
Live Stream: ESPN3
|4||10||Juan Pablo Montoya|
Kurt Busch's Busy Day
Even throughout IndyCar's biggest weekend, the storylines are being dominated by someone primarily known as a NASCAR driver.
Kurt Busch will start off his Sunday racing in the Indy 500 with the Andretti Autosport team and follow it up just hours later by racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600.
That's 1,100 miles of driving in one day, if you're keeping count. Not to mention the travel from Indianapolis to Charlotte, North Carolina.
With the obvious differences between the two sports, it's been a getting-used-to process for Busch in preparation for Indy. In fact, he even wrecked his race car Monday during practice runs and will have to drive a backup car.
If anything, though, Busch is relieved to get that out of the way, per Sporting News' Bob Pockrass:
“It might sound stupid by saying that I’m glad I wrecked at 220 miles an hour,” Busch said Friday prior to Sprint Cup practice at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “But if I didn’t put myself in that position, I would have done that on Sunday, possibly 50 laps into the race.
Busch's mere presence at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday is sure to cause many more viewers to tune in, and it's nothing short of commendable for him to attempt both. It will be an ultimate test, as only four drivers have attempted the feat all-time.
Starting out in the 12th position, Busch is in a solid spot to get near the front and join the leaders early on.
Helio Castroneves Chasing History
When compiling a short list of most notable IndyCar drivers, Helio Castroneves should always be at or near the top of said list. He has one of his biggest chances yet to climb further up that list Sunday.
A victory at the Indy 500 for Castroneves on Sunday would be his fourth all-time, tying him with the career record held jointly by Rick Mears, Al Unser and A.J. Foyt.
Early odds from ESPN's RJ Bell indicate he's in for a history-making day:
Indy 500 Odds: Castroneves 5/1; Andretti 6/1; Montoya 7/1; Dixon, Kanaan, Hunter-Reay, Carpenter, Power, Hinchcliffe 10/1 - via @LVSuperBook— RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) May 24, 2014
But in order to do that, he'll have to break his spell of four straight years without an Indy 500 crown. His last victory at the prestigious event came in 2009.
Will Castroneves win get No. 4 at the 2014 Indy 500?
Castroneves is 39 years old. While he probably has a number of years left of racing left in him, his chances to get No. 4 are running out.
After Sunday, Castroneves will be on the wrong side of 40 by the time he next appears in the Indy 500. Plenty of young drivers have emerged in recent years—Will Power, Ryan Hunter-Reay and more—and that will make him even hungrier to nab his fourth title at IndyCar's biggest event on Sunday.
Ed Carpenter Hoping for Redemption
A native of Indianapolis, Ed Carpenter has had his fair share of success at the Indy 500 in the last two years.
In qualifying, that is.
Carpenter won the pole at the 2013 Indy 500, and went on to lead for the early portion of the race. But the pack eventually caught up to him, and he fell behind—eventually finishing in 10th place.
Back in Indianapolis for qualifying for the 2014 event, Carpenter won the pole again. For the second straight year, he'll start out in front.
This time around, he's hoping to learn from what he did wrong the first time. Via Associated Press reporter Dave Skretta:
"It was so exciting last year because going into qualifying I wasn't really eying the pole," said Carpenter, who went on to finish 10th in the race. "This year we knew Day 1 we had a fast car, so you go for it. Especially after last year. You set your sights higher. It's a different experience this time. I would have been more disappointed if we didn't win the pole."
As the 11th driver to win the pole in back-to-back years, Carpenter has gotten past the excitement of winning the pole. In 2014, it's all business, as he's learned the hard way not to put too much stock into a simple starting spot.
On Sunday, we'll find out if it will pay off in the form of a career-defining victory.