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Indy 500 2017: Starting Grid, TV Schedule, Lineup, Odds and Pre-Race Storylines

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistMay 28, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 26:  Fernando Alonso of Spain, driver of the #29 Chandon Honda drives during Carb day for the 101st Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on May 26, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Scott Dixon is seeking a second crown at the Indy 500 on Sunday as he returns to Indianapolis Motor Speedway after taking pole in this race for the third time in his career.

The New Zealand native is one of seven former champions in the 2017 Indy 500 field, however, and Helio Castroneves boasts supreme pedigree entering Sunday's showdown in his search of title number four.

To do that, he'll need to fend off the challenge of two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso, and the Indianapolis rookie is sure to be in the debate for who will top the billing come Sunday evening.

Read on for a breakdown of the top storylines heading into Sunday's showstopper, complete with a look at the latest odds, courtesy of OddsShark:

2017 Indy 500 Odds
DriverOdds
Scott Dixon6-1
Will Power8-1
Fernando Alonso8-1
Helio Castroneves10-1
Juan Pablo Montoya12-1
Tony Kanaan12-1
Marco Andretti12-1
Ryan Hunter-Reay12-1
Josef Newgarden15-1
Simon Pagenaud15-1
Alexander Rossi15-1
Takuma Sato15-1
Ed Carpenter15-1
James Hinchcliffe20-1
JR Hildebrand20-1
Charlie Kimball40-1
Graham Rahal40-1
Carlos Munoz50-1
Mikhall Aleshin60-1
Max Chilton100-1
Oriol Servia100-1
Jack Harvey100-1
Field200-1
OddsShark.com

IndyStar provided a preview of Sunday's starting grid, with top qualifier Dixon up front, while No. 18 James Davison follows from the rear in 33rd:

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IndyStar @indystar

Your 2017 #Indy500 starting grid: https://t.co/ko9JCddXs5 https://t.co/tKdse37zAm

The confirmed starting grid can be found at IndianapolisMotorSpeedway.com.

     

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

   

Preview

In his 15th running of the Indy 500, Dixon has painted a target on his back after recording an incredible four-lap average of 232.164 miles per hour in qualifying, although it's not unfamiliar territory for the Kiwi.

This will be Dixon's third time starting No. 1 on the grid—the same position from which he won his only Indy 500 title to date (2008)—and Yahoo's Nick Bromberg hailed the 36-year-old as an understated icon of the sport:

Nick Bromberg @NickBromberg

Is Scott Dixon the most underrated open-wheel racer in American open-wheel history?

He's far from the only experienced veteran up for another shot at their post-race victory milk chug, though, as South American phenomenon Castroneves, 42, prepares for his 17th consecutive run in the Indy 500.

However, Castroneves' chances of success this year don't appear to be that strong when considering OddsShark's Justin Hartling reported 11 of the previous 14 winners have come from the grid's front nine:

Unfortunately for the Brazilian, he's a gulf away from those positions as he prepares to start 19th, while fellow IndyCar great Juan Pablo Montoya, 41, sits just ahead of him at 18th.

Some legends of the sport will crusade to add to their silverware collections, but Pippa Mann may be content with setting a new female record as the only woman taking part in the 2017 edition of the race.

Legend Danica Patrick holds the female record for best starting position (fourth, 2005) and best finishing position (third, 2009) by any woman, both of which are accolades Mann will be hopeful of beating.

Exactly what the Daly Coyne driver's chance of doing so is up for debate, although the grid's No. 28 starter has shown signs in practice that she's looking to break down some barriers, per TrackSide Online:

TrackSide Online @tracksideonline

That lap of 230.1 mph means that @PippaMann is now the fastest woman at @IMS and first over 230mph #IndyCar #Indy500

And then there's the case of newcomer Alonso, one of four Indy 500 rookies in this year's field, who has run in among the favourites in the buildup to Sunday's blockbuster, and with good reason.

It may be more than a decade since the 2005 and 2006 Formula One champion won a world title in his natual field, but 2003 Indy winner Gil de Ferran has said the Spaniard can go all the way, per BBC Sport's Andrew Benson:

"Does Fernando have a chance to win the race this week? Absolutely. He has been competitive throughout the practices, he is in good shape, he is being supported by a great team but that's as far as I'm going to go."

Needless to say the field is wide open and with no way to predict exactly how another highly anticipated Indy 500 will unfold, but drama and entertainment are at least two things guaranteed.

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