The best IndyCar drivers in the world all have one thing on their minds Sunday—milk.
The Indianapolis 500—otherwise known as the Greatest Spectacle in Racing—will pit IndyCar royalty against each other. The winner will drink the traditional victor’s milk and cement his or her name in the sport’s lore.
Superstars such as Helio Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya, Will Power, Scott Dixon and Ryan Hunter-Reay are all in this year’s field, which makes the 99th running of the Indy 500 appointment viewing for racing fans everywhere.
Here is a look at the essential information for the prestigious race.
Schedule and Broadcast (per Sports Illustrated)
Where: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Date: Sunday, May 24
Time: 12:15 p.m. ET
Live Stream: IndianapolisMotorSpeedway.com
Lineup/Starting Grid (per IndianapolisMotorSpeedway.com)
|2015 Indy 500 Start Grid|
|Scott Dixon (first)||Will Power (second)||Simon Pagenaud (third)|
|Tony Kanaan (fourth)||Helio Castroneves (fifth)||Justin Wilson (sixth)|
|Sebastien Bourdais (seventh)||Marco Andretti (eighth)||Josef Newgarden (ninth)|
|J.R. Hildebrand (10th)||Carlos Munoz (11th)||Ed Carpenter (12th)|
|Oriol Servia (13th)||Charlie Kimball (14th)||Juan Pablo Montoya (15th)|
|Ryan Hunter-Reay (16th)||Graham Rahal (17th)||Simona de Silvestro (18th)|
|James Jakes (19th)||Alex Tagliani (20th)||Sage Karam (21st)|
|Conor Daly (22nd)||Townsend Bell (23rd)||Takuma Sato (24th)|
|Pippa Mann (25th)||Gabby Chaves (26th)||Sebastian Saavedra (27th)|
|Jack Hawksworth (28th)||Stefano Coletti (29th)||Bryan Clauson (30th)|
|Ryan Briscoe (31st)||Tristan Vautier (32nd)||James Davison (33rd)|
Odds (per Odds Shark as of Saturday at 3 p.m. ET)
|2015 Indy 500 Odds|
|Juan Pablo Montoya||15-2|
|Simona de Silvestro||100-1|
|Source: Odds Shark|
Helio Castroneves' Races for History
Castroneves is a 40-year-old veteran and one of the elder statesman of the sport, but he is still a threat to win the Indy 500 every time he gets behind the wheel.
He is a legend in Indianapolis and a three-time champion (2001, 2002 and 2009) in this famed race. One more win would put his name alongside the likes of Rick Mears, Al Unser and A.J. Foyt as the only drivers to win the Greatest Spectacle in Racing four times in a single career.
The fact that it would be Castroneves’ 30th career win would make it all the more impressive.
Castroneves isn’t the dominant driver he was in his prime, but he is still third place in the standings and well within striking distance of the leaders (18 points behind Montoya and 13 points behind Power). A victory in Indianapolis would certainly help him make a move toward the top.
Castroneves understands what it takes to win this event and will not be intimidated by the moment or the pressure of the spectacle. He always performs at his best under the brightest lights, and the lights don’t get any brighter than the Indy 500.
Don’t be surprised if he parlays his experience and speed into another title.
Scott Dixon Looks to Make His Charge
Dixon captured the pole position during qualifying, which is worrisome for the rest of the field since he turned his 2008 Indy 500 pole position into a title.
Dixon hopes lightning strikes twice with the pole-to-victory formula, which would be a monumental boost to his position in the standings. The pole-sitter is in fourth place entering the Indy 500 behind Montoya, Power and Castroneves and has the opportunity to make up ground on each of them.
Power is particularly interesting because he will start from the second position, which sets the stage for a great duel with implications beyond just Sunday’s race. The top two qualifiers just so happen to be two of the best drivers in the entire field with positioning on the line near the top of the standings.
Montoya turned in a somewhat disappointing qualifying effort and will start in 15th, which means Dixon can also cut into his standings deficit against Montoya if he takes advantage of his favorable starting position.
There will be nothing but open track ahead of him Sunday.
Danger at the Track
Unfortunately for IndyCar, crashes defined the practice sessions leading up to Sunday’s race.
Castroneves went airborne and flipped during a May 13 practice, Josef Newgarden went airborne and then Ed Carpenter went airborne. Following those incidents, the back portion of James Hinchcliffe’s car went up in flames during a crash, and he needed surgery in the aftermath (and will not race Sunday).
Jenna Fryer of the Associated Press (via ABC News) pointed out that this is not the attention the sport wants before its famed spectacle:
All of these incidents create the images that are drawing worldwide attention to the "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" a full week before the renowned event.
Maybe that's not such a bad thing for IndyCar, the besieged series that just can't seem to get anything right, but stays in business year after year in part because it calls the Indianapolis 500 its own. Some buzz around this crown jewel event can only help.
Not like this, though.
Dixon responded to the increased concerns with so many high-profile crashes, per Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: “Crashing at Indianapolis is not a new thing. We don’t want to see it. We don’t want to see our friends get hurt. But once you get in the car, your frame of mind changes and you drive it to be fast and quick and try to win the race.”
The possibility for a race-altering crash is very real at the Indy 500, especially with so much traffic down the stretch. One of the keys to victory for every driver is to avoid the attrition on the way to becoming a factor in the final laps.
That is much easier said than done.