The 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 will take place on Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the starting grid is littered with drivers looking to make history in the famed race.
The 33 drivers will race around Indy Motor Speedway for 200 laps. Each lap is 2.5 miles, making this one of the more grueling races for IndyCar drivers. Only the driver with the ability to be both assertive and consistent will take home the honor of winning this prestigious event.
Such a race can alter the course of a driver's career. Below is the official starting grid, listing every driver with aspirations of winning the Indy 500.
|4||10||Juan Pablo Montoya|
Driver to Watch: Kurt Busch
Kurt Busch, starting from the No. 12 position this weekend, is attempting to do something that is not done all that often—the Memorial Day Double.
Busch, an accomplished NASCAR racer, will step into an IndyCar for the first time on Sunday. After completing the 500-mile race, he'll hop on a private jet and make his way to Concord, North Carolina to compete in NASCAR's longest event—the Coca-Cola 600. That's 1,100 miles in a day.
Michael Vega of the Boston Globe recalls past drivers who have accomplished the rare feat:
Kurt Busch will become the fourth NASCAR driver to attempt the Memorial Day weekend marathon, driving in the 98th Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 Sunday. Busch will join his Stewart-Haas Racing boss, Tony Stewart, who did it in 1999 and 2001, and former Sprint Cup drivers Robby Gordon (five times) and John Andretti (twice) as the only drivers to do the double.
It hasn't been an easy road to Sunday for Busch. He crashed in practice, and IndyCar's official Twitter account provided its followers with a video:
Shockingly, Busch claims that he's happy he crashed in practice, according to Vega:
I’m glad I experienced it. I might sound stupid by saying that I’m glad I wrecked at 220 m.p.h., but if I didn’t put myself in that position, I would have done that on Sunday, possibly 50 laps into the race. That’s how you have to advance through life is to learn from your mistakes.
It was a mistake that I wholeheartedly put myself in. It’s because I just started to feel comfortable [in the car]. I just let my guard down a little bit, and that IndyCar just up and bit me.
While crashing at that speed is something that nobody wants to do, Busch's statement makes some sense. The last thing a driver wants to do is get too comfortable in a car that he or she isn't used to driving. Now with the experience under his belt, we can expect a more polished showing from Busch in the actual race.
Busch's endeavor has garnered national attention. Even his fellow drivers have extended their well wishes. Here's what Dale Earnhardt Jr. told Fox Sports:
Busch will be the focus of many viewers on Sunday. Even if he doesn't fare well in the Indy 500, he'll need to put that behind him to compete at a high level in the Coca-Cola 600. If any driver is talented enough to succeed in both, though, it's Busch.