The 2013 Indianapolis 500 will get underway on Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in what will be the 97th running of the world-renowned race.
Defending champion Dario Franchitti has made the trip to Victory Lane three times in this prestigious IndyCar showcase, but other than last year's triumph, has struggled recently. Thus, there will be plenty of viable competitors putting heat on Franchitti, who will start in 17th position.
Pole-sitter Ed Carpenter has failed to crack the top 10 in four previous starts, but is in prime position to win The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
Below is the viewing information you need to know to catch all the pulse-pounding action, as well as predictions for several drivers who should figure prominently into the outcome.
Note: Statistics and information, unless otherwise indicated, were obtained from the race's official website.
Where: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
When: Sunday, May 26 at 12 p.m. ET
Live Stream: LiveStream.com
Simona de Silvestro Has Breakout Performance
Not only has de Silvestro transcended the gender barrier in a male-dominated sport, but she had to leave her native Switzerland growing up just to be allowed to race.
Formula One racing in Switzerland is banned, and her dad would take her to surrounding countries, such as Italy and France, to race go-karts from the time she was six, according to the New York Times' Naila-Jean Meyers.
After some inconsistency to kick off her IndyCar career, de Silvestro finds herself in ninth place in the points standings, per NBC Sports. Three top 10s in four starts show that the 24-year-old is applying what she's experienced in the past to improve herself on the track in 2013.
Beginning the race in 24th isn't exactly an ideal position to make a significant run, but she feels optimistic about the work her team at KV Racing Technology has put in (h/t Tim Tuttle of Sports Illustrated):
I definitely feel that I finally have the tools in my hands to be competitive. The team put a lot of work into the cars over the winter and I feel like we came here pretty prepared. I feel pretty confident. Every day (in practice) we've been running and doing more laps and the car feels pretty good underneath us. I'm taking each day one at a time. I think if we do our job right, the results will be good at the end.
There are four women in the 33-car field this week, but de Silvestro has the best odds of putting together a stellar run.
Dario Franchitti's Magic Continues
As hinted at before, other than his win here in 2012, Franchitti had an extremely difficult season, but he's starting to show signs of the form that has gotten him three previous wins at the Indy 500.
After two DNFs to start his 2013 campaign, the veteran driver grabbed the pole at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and finished fourth, followed by a seventh-place effort at the Sao Paulo Indy 300 in Brazil.
Franchitti has his work cut out for him in the middle of the pack, but he did register a strong time at the final practice, as he mentioned on Twitter on Friday:
With the momentum he's generated in his past two starts and immense success and experience at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, he should be among the top contenders once again.
Though he won't walk away with the checkered flag and annual shower of milk, it will be another admirable effort from Franchitti, who will manage a season-best third-place finish.
Winner: Tony Kanaan
The Indy 500 has produced a lot of heartbreak and close calls for Kanaan, as the 15-time IndyCar winner and 2004 circuit champion has five top fives in this race without a victory.
It's interesting how Kanaan's teammate, the previously analyzed de Silvestro, has the nickname, "Iron Lady." Kanaan is a bit of an iron man himself—beyond sharing the given name of the comic book superhero.
Sunday will mark Kanaan's 201st consecutive start, which is particularly impressive since he's dealing with torn ligaments in his right hand. That setback didn't stop him from getting to second place by lap 52 in Brazil his last time out, but he ran out of fuel at that point and finished 21st.
Given his familiarity with this track and clear determination to keep battling, this would be a fitting time for Indianapolis Motor Speedway to reward Kanaan's courageous efforts and give him an elusive win.
Tactics haven't been a problem for Kanaan in the past, except he just hasn't quite been able to close the deal. As he toughs it out through this painful injury, the racing gods have to be looking favorably upon him.