Scott Dixon is on the pole for the 2017 Indianapolis 500 after posting the fastest speed in last weekend's Fast Nine Shootout round of qualifying. His only career victory in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing came in 2008, when he also started from the top spot.
Dixon will be joined on the front row by Ed Carpenter and reigning champion Alexander Rossi. It's a wide-open race, however, with Ryan Hunter-Reay, Graham Rahal, Juan Pablo Montoya and Helio Castroneves among the drivers starting deeper in the field with a realistic shot at victory.
Let's check out all of the important details for the IndyCar Series' marquee event. That's followed by a race preview. For a complete look at this year's starting grid, visit the race's official website.
Where: Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana
When: Sunday, May 28 at 12 p.m. ET
Live Stream: WatchESPN
It's been an emotional roller coaster for Dixon over the past couple weeks. He went through an up-and-down week of practice leading up to qualifying weekend, secured the pole as the only driver with a four-lap average over 232 mph and then got robbed at gunpoint last Sunday night.
Jenna Fryer of the Associated Press noted the 36-year-old New Zealander and retired driver Dario Franchitti went to Taco Bell after the pole triumph and were robbed in the drive-thru lane. Dixon noted he was happy the situation didn't escalate any further.
"I think the biggest thing is you are just hoping that everything is OK, grateful that nothing silly happened," he said. "That's the world of difference. That aside, personally, it maybe brings you to think about choices you make."
This will mark the eighth time Dixon has started inside the top five in the Indy 500. Only once in the previous seven instances has he failed to translate that into a top-10 result, and that came all the way back in his debut appearance in 2003.
So the four-time series champion should be a threat heading into the final laps Sunday. Whether his car will peak at the right time after some mixed practice results will be the key.
Fernando Alonso is the most intriguing starter in the field. He's won a pair of Formula One championships and has made a ridiculously smooth transition to IndyCar, qualifying for the Fast Nine and earning a spot in the second row.
The 35-year-old Spanish superstar wrote a piece for The Players' Tribune explaining his decision to take on the cross-series adventure. He admitted it's something that's been on his mind for awhile.
"I have been thinking about Indy for four or five years now," Alonso wrote. "I had seen a few races, but didn't know too much about the series. I knew some of the names, and the teams, but basically it's all new information for me. So I am back to doing what I love again, learning. Everyone—from the team at McLaren-Honda-Andretti, to the people I've met during my time in America—has been so helpful."
He added: "And I want to make something clear. I'm not coming for a 'week off' or to just have fun—I am a racer, I am coming to race. Above all, I hope this is an experience I can take with me for the rest of my life. I hope the feelings I feel, and the things I see, stay in my mind forever."
While he's handled every hurdle thrown his way so far, being able to contend when the Indy 500 gets underway for real is a completely different animal. There's no doubting his competitive drive, but challenging for a victory would be a major statement about his all-around driving ability.
Hunter-Reay didn't qualify for the Fast Nine, but just about everything else he's done at Indianapolis Motor Speedway suggests he's a serious threat to win his second Indianapolis 500.
The 2014 champion has practiced well and, after just missing the qualifying cut, still delivered a terrific showing in the next round to earn himself a top-10 starting spot.
Sean Kelly of NBCSN is bullish on the American's chances:
Sean Kelly @virtualstatman
Ryan Hunter-Reay absolutely flew round this place all week. No pole, but I reckon he can win next Sunday #Indy5002017-5-21 20:26:18
In the end, this is one of the toughest Indy 500's to forecast in recent memory. Justin Hartling of OddsShark noted Dixon is listed as a slight favorite from the pole position. But there's no less than a baker's dozen of drivers who have a real shot of coming away with the win Sunday afternoon.