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Indy 500 2017: Complete Starting Grid, Lineup, Race Schedule and Predictions

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistMay 27, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 18: Jack Harvey is seen during practice for the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 18, 2017 in Indianapolis, In. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Seven former champions and four newcomers will take part in the Indy 500 2017 this Sunday, when 33 stars of motorsport will compete for the greatest prize known to IndyCar racing.

Scott Dixon's daring qualifying run saw him take pole for the third time in his participation in the Indy 500, but a baying raft of drivers are lurking ready to pounce on his slightest slip.

Meanwhile, two-time champion and motorsport legend Juan Pablo Montoya returns to the starting grid searching for his hat-trick triumph, and Briton Pippa Mann will compete in her fifth successive Indy 500.

Read on for a preview of Sunday's race and a look at which riders we can expect to see dueling for first place come the race's climax, complete with race schedule and information on how you can watch this year's blockbuster.

IndyCar Series provided a breakdown of the qualifying times registered last Sunday and the starting grid order for this year's Indy 500:

IndyCar Series @IndyCar

Unofficial 101st #Indy500 Qualifying Results #INDYCAR https://t.co/vA8RMHfkbR

The confirmed starting grid can be found at IndianapolisMotorSpeedway.com

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Where: Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana

Date: Sunday, May 29

Start Time: 12:19 p.m. ET/5:19 p.m. BST

Watch: ABC

Live StreamWatchESPN

Predicted Winner: Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso

Formula 1 superstar Alonso will compete in his first Indy 500 after McLaren gave the Spaniard permission to miss this year's Monaco Grand Prix—also on Sunday—in favour of a more unknown challenge in Indianapolis.

Despite perhaps not being as well known a face to some of those American fans in attendance, Alonso is a motorsport legend in his own right, and the Associated Press Sports Twitter account showed how he's been conserving energy on signing autographs this week:

AP Sports @AP_Sports

Formula One star Fernando Alonso @alo_oficial figures out a way to zip through the spotlight at #Indy500 @jennafryer https://t.co/vVp91a5tg6 https://t.co/CUCDQzbqMZ

Although the Spaniard wasn't quite able to match Dixon's qualification-topping four-lap average of 232.164 miles per hour, his speed of 231.300 mph was far from disappointing and placed him in fifth spot on the starting grid.

The transition from one motorsport to another isn't always guaranteed success, but McLaren chief Zak Brown has faith in his driver's ability and told TalkSport 2's The Grand Prix Show he's expecting a victory (h/t Sky Sports):

"I think he can win. You've got what appears to be five, six, seven cars that are the fastest and I do think Fernando's definitely in that group. I don't think they will be beat if the race is on pure speed. Then maybe you've got another five cars that can win on a little bit of strategy going your way. Then another five that could win if something dramatic happens."

"Ultimately, because something dramatic usually does happen, I think that means you've got 15 people, none of which I would be surprised if they win the Indy 500. But if Fernando's there at the end, he's going to be a tough cookie."

Alonso is almost certain to be treating his race with care in his first Indy 500 outing, meaning his lasting potential is there, and the two-time Formula 1 champion is used to tracks with far more twists and turns than this.

Scott Dixon

Dixon is seeking his second Indy 500 title after taking pole for a third time in his career.
Dixon is seeking his second Indy 500 title after taking pole for a third time in his career.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Victory can't be put beyond the leader in any running of the Indy 500, but the fact that no grid-leader has gone on to win the race since Helio Castroneves did so in 2009 is a worrying statistic for Dixon.

What isn't worrying for Dixon, however, is the fact his maiden Indy 500 win (2008) came from him starting on pole, and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Twitter account illustrated how he returns in 2017 in a hot streak of form:

Indianapolis Motor Speedway @IMS

That's one fast run, @scottdixon9. 4 lap ave. of 232.164, fastest since 1996! #Indy500 #FastNine https://t.co/yazbopPAky

At 36 years of age, the New Zealander looks every bit as electric in the driver's seat as he has throughout his career, even earning high praise from his IndyCar peers, such as Graham Rahal:

Graham Rahal @GrahamRahal

Scott Dixon is the f'ing man. I guarantee you that car was extremely on edge. Wow.

Having already won the Indy 500 from pole, Dixon has proved standing up to the pressure of the occasion isn't a concern on his part and will be eager to test that theory on Sunday.

That can't account for any unforeseen intervention that might unfold on the day, however, and the quality among the rest of the field—namely F1 ace Alonso—could provide a test he's unable to overcome.

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