The Indianapolis 500 moves into its second century of existence Sunday with the 2017 edition marking the 101st running of the IndyCar Series' most high-profile race. Scott Dixon is in the pole position for the third time, previously winning for the No. 1 starting spot in 2008.
Dixon headlines a well-rounded field that features everyone from defending champion Alexander Rossi and three-time winner Helio Castroneves to Formula One superstar Fernando Alonso. It should make for an entertaining, competitive battle at the Brickyard.
Let's check out all of the important details for Sunday's showcase. That's followed by a preview of some notable storylines for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
Where: Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana
When: Sunday, May 28 at 12 p.m. ET
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Starting Grid: Complete Race Lineup
Dixon stole the show during the Fast Nine Shootout round of qualifying as the only driver to post a four-lap average speed above 232 mph. Only five other drivers—Rossi, Alonso, Ed Carpenter, Takuma Sato and Ryan Hunter-Reay—even cracked 231 mph.
"I thought maybe the dash had broken on the steering wheel and brought up a fake number," Dixon said. "We seriously (didn't) think (we'd) ... see the speed that we did."
Although a strong qualifying run doesn't always guarantee success on race day, Dixon is seemingly well positioned to contend Sunday. Justin Hartling of OddsShark noted he's listed as the slight favorite, though it's a wide-open race overall.
Meanwhile, Rossi arrived to Indianapolis Motor Speedway with much more fanfare this time around than was the case one year ago. The defending champion put himself on the map with last year's victory, and he told the Jim Rome Show he reaped the benefits from the past 12 months.
"The amazing experience that goes on for an entire year afterwards, that you just don't want anyone else to have it," he said. "The opportunities present themselves that probably wouldn't have otherwise, and you definitely just want to be able to keep doing it and not let anyone else experience the kind of fruits that come with it."
It remains the only victory on his IndyCar resume, and he's only recorded two other top-five finishes since making his debut last season. Yet, he's looked dangerous once again during practice and qualifying as he looks to secure back-to-back triumphs on the sport's biggest stage.
Along with Dixon and Rossi, Alonso's story is of particular interest as drivers from other series coming to compete at Indy is one of the factors that helps make the event so special.
The 35-year-old Spaniard is a two-time Formula One champion with 32 wins during his illustrious career. His rapid transition to IndyCar has been magnificent, too. He's never looked out of place during practice sessions and his times suggest he's a legitimate threat Sunday.
That said, Autosport spotlighted the question everybody is asking: Can Alonso maintain that high level of performance under race conditions:
The best story might still be waiting to get told, however, just like Rossi last year. There are no fewer than 10-12 drivers with a serious chance of winning Sunday's race depending on who catches the breaks and which cars end up peaking at the ideal time.