In terms of prestige, few races are more highly coveted than the Indianapolis 500. For the top stars on the IndyCar circuit, this year's event represents a chance to bolster a legacy and/or make up for possibly a slow start to the 2015 campaign.
With this year's race just hours away, there's only a little bit of time left to look ahead to the Indy 500 and a small handful of the more notable names taking part.
Here's a quick preview for the 2015 Indianapolis 500.
Indianapolis 500 Schedule
|Date||Time (ET)||TV Info||Live Stream|
|Sun., May 24||12:15 p.m.||ABC||Watch ESPN|
Indianapolis 500 Starting Grid
|1||Scott Dixon||Will Power||Simon Pagenaud|
|2||Tony Kanaan||Helio Castroneves||Justin Wilson|
|3||Sebastien Bourdais||Marco Andretti||Josef Newgarden|
|4||JR Hildebrand||Carlos Munoz||Ed Carpenter|
|5||Oriol Servia||Charlie Kimball||Juan Pablo Montoya|
|6||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Graham Rahal||Simona de Silvestro|
|7||James Jakes||Alex Tagliani||Sage Karam|
|8||Conor Daly||Townsend Bell||Takuma Sato|
|9||Pippa Mann||Gabby Chaves||Sebastian Saavedra|
|10||Jack Hawksworth||Stefano Coletti||Bryan Clauson|
|11||Ryan Briscoe||Tristan Vautier||James Davison|
Indianapolis 500 Odds
|Juan Pablo Montoya||15/2|
|Source: Odds Shark|
If history is any indicator, then Scott Dixon will be the driver in Victory Lane by the time the Indianapolis 500 is completed. The 34-year-old has just one other Indy 500 pole to his name, and it just so happens to be the same year he captured the checkered flag at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
"We're starting in the right place but it's a long race," said Dixon, per Jim Peltz of the Los Angeles Times. "Hopefully, we can replicate what we did in 2008."
Normally, it can be difficult to win a race from the pole position, but four different drivers—Dixon included—have won from the P1 position since 2004. That's not an incredible winning percentage, but it's not like the pole has been a complete graveyard of late.
One driver seriously on the wrong side of history is Ryan Hunter-Reay. The 34-year-old won last year's Indianapolis 500, and that may be the kiss of death in 2015.
Helio Castroneves is the last driver to win back-to-back Indy 500s. Before his triumph in 2002, you have to go all the way back to Al Unser Sr. in 1971 to find the next-most recent back-to-back champion.
Hunter-Reay won't be helped out by starting out in 16th. It won't be easy for him to work his way up the field, especially with the number of skilled stars occupying the first couple of rows.
Many eyes will be on Team Penske, with the group's four drivers boasting starting positions of second, third, fifth and 15th. Dixon must feel like the walls are closing in around him with Will Power and Simon Pagenaud both starting in the same row:
For Power, this year's Indy 500 is a chance to fill one of the glaring holes on his resume. In fact, one could argue that Power has been a bit of a disappointment at this race in the past.
According to Racing-Reference, he started his last seven Indianapolis 500s at an average of 7.6 but finished at an average of 13.6. Power has finished no higher than fifth, which feels surprising given how well he has performed on the IndyCar Series as a whole.
Power doesn't really view his past Indy 500 performances negatively. He feels that the one-off nature of the event brings so many other variables into play beyond a driver's skill.
"To me a championship was always a bigger deal to me. Always," Power said, per USA Today's Brant James. "It's the best driver in a number of races. There's no question, really. The best guys always seem to fight for the final championship. Indianapolis is a different story. It's definitely got to be your day."
While the number of points championships is often the first qualifier in terms of a driver's overall body of work, the Indianapolis 500 is one of those races by which the sport's biggest stars are judged.
It must weigh on Power even somewhat that he has so far failed to capture an Indy 500 checkered flag. This may be the year he gets that monkey off his back.
Note: Odds are courtesy of Odds Shark, where you can view the full odds for each driver in the Indy 500.