Indy 500 2016: Weekend Race Schedule, TV Coverage and More

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistMay 27, 2016

Josef Newgarden helps lead IndyCar into Sunday's Indy 500.
Josef Newgarden helps lead IndyCar into Sunday's Indy 500.Darron Cummings/Associated Press

It's easy to classify any event as historic and call it a day—especially when it comes to the sporting juggernaut that is the Indy 500.

But it's not a throwaway descriptor for the 2016 iteration, as the Indy 500 has truly made history this year by selling out and lifting the controversial media blackout for the first time since 1950.

In other words, the Indy 500 enters the modern world and will get a televised edition, and the networks will pull out all the stops to celebrate.

The Indianapolis Star's Curt Cavin detailed some of the plans: "ABC is planning a local lead-in to Sunday’s race. Its SportsCenter crew will be at IMS both weekend days, and in the hour before the 500’s broadcast begins SportsCenter will have Colts quarterback Andrew Luck and receiver TY Hilton as guests."

So yes, "historic" is the right tagline here. Below, let's take a look at the pertinent info surrounding Sunday's event.

2016 Indy 500

When: Sunday at noon ET

Where: Indianapolis Motor Speedway

TV: ABC

Live Stream: WatchESPN

Starting Grid

Pole PositionDriverDriverPole Position
1James HinchcliffeJosef Newgarden2
3Ryan Hunter-ReayTownsend Bell4
5Carlos MunozWill Power6
7Mikhail AleshinSimon Pagenaud8
9Helio CastronevesOriol Servia10
11Alexander RossiTakuma Sato12
13Scott DixonMarco Andretti14
15JR HildebrandCharlie Kimball16
17Juan Pablo MontoyaTony Kanaan18
19Sebastien BourdaisEd Carpenter20
21Gabby ChavesMax Chilton22
23Sage KaramConor Daly24
25Pippa MannGraham Rahal26
27Matt BrabhamBryan Clauson28
29Spencer PigotStefan Wilson30
31Jack HawksworthBuddy Lazier32
33Alex Tagliani
Source: IndyCar.com

Drivers to Watch

Josef Newgarden

The globe won't hear much about Josef Newgarden out of the second pole slot thanks to the incredible story of the man in front of him: James Hinchcliffe.

It's not a reason to sleep on Newgarden, though.

Newgarden has posted consistent outings as of late; he not only slotted second in qualifying but managed a pair of top-six finishes over his past four outings. He took to Instagram to stress his team's preparation for Sunday:

At just 25 years old, Newgarden has an impressive story as well, posting his best career finish at this event by coming in ninth place last year.

This year, he's suiting up for Ed Carpenter Racing, and recent momentum added to growing experience suggests he'll give the top names a major run for the checkered flag.

Juan Pablo Montoya

Juan Pablo Montoya starts out of a shaky 17th slot.
Juan Pablo Montoya starts out of a shaky 17th slot.LM Otero/Associated Press

The legendary Juan Pablo Montoya starting 17th is a tad misleading.

Montoya had a slight issue with a trash bag on the track during qualifying, according to Jeff Gluck of USA Today. But he's still the same driver who has won two of these epic events and enters Sunday gunning for a third after placing ninth or better in every IndyCar event this year.

ESPN.com's PJ Walsh explained why Montoya's starting slot isn't a major concern:

Montoya, the defending Indy 500 champion, ran over a trash bag during his initial qualifying run, forcing the driver to abort the attempt. IndyCar granted Montoya a second attempt because of the "extenuating circumstances", but unbeknownst to the team, the bag had somehow cracked the wing on Montoya's car, slowing him to a 17th place run in qualifying.

Few drivers can win from anywhere on the grid, but one only has to look to last year to understand Montoya is one of the rare few. In 2015, he started 15th and still captured the checkered flag.

Although he's two slots deeper this time due to an oddity, Montoya cannot go ignored Sunday.

James Hinchcliffe

What a ride it has been for Hinchcliffe.

He looked poised to seize victory last year given his form going into the race, but he suffered a near-fatal wreck. A piece of suspension punctured his leg, which required medical personnel to give him 14 pints of blood before even getting him to the hospital, according to Rachel Cohen of the Associated Press.

So yes, it's great to see Hinchcliffe not only back on the track but leading the pack. Cavin's colleague, Gregg Doyel, put it best:

Hinchcliffe earned the second spot on the grid last year before the accident, so it's clear he's continuing to post better numbers as he gets more experience on the track.

That said, the Indianapolis Star's Zak Keefer added some necessary perspective for what could be a feel-good story:

If there's a guy who will buck the trends and take the checkered flag, though, one has to think it would be Hinchcliffe.

While far from the only storyline Sunday, Hinchcliffe's personal battle makes him the top driver to watch.

Stats and information courtesy of IndianapolisMotorSpeedway.com unless otherwise specified. Odds courtesy of Odds Shark.

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