Team Penske's Simon Pagenaud will be the first Frenchman to start on pole at the Indy 500 for a century on Sunday, and he is seeking to win the historic race for the first time.
Pagenaud is in the best form of the IndyCar season, having secured pole after he won the Indianapolis Grand Prix last time out. At the front of the grid, he's in the perfect spot to win back-to-back races and propel himself into contention for the title.
The 2016 IndyCar champion surely won't have things his own way, though, as some fierce competitors are in close proximity at the front of the grid at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Here is the grid in full for the blue riband event, plus a preview of how some of the biggest names in the field are likely to fare.
The IndyCar Twitter account provided a breakdown of the grid, including the positions of the 33 drivers and the colours they will don:
In the opening five races of the 2019 IndyCar season, unpredictability has been the theme, with each grand prix yielding a different winner. Pagenaud will be seeking to bring some consistency to the campaign with successive wins.
After clinching his first win of the season, the Frenchman performed tremendously in qualifying, and it was clear just how much earning pole position meant to him ahead of Sunday's race:
Leading up to the Indy 500, Pagenaud said he thinks the ideal racing conditions will be to his advantage, such is the manner in which his car is performing.
"I would welcome a higher temperature [for the race] because I think we have a better chassis than most, and I think it'll make more of a disparity with other cars," he said, per David Malsher of Motorsport.com. "As a race fan, I would rather have a cool race because the racing would be a lot more packed and more fun to watch. So we'll see."
Per his team's Twitter account, the pole-sitter reflected on some of his favourite memories from Indy 500 races in the past:
Team Penske @Team_Penske
Before the month of May started we asked @simonpagenaud what his favorite #Indy500 moment was with Team Penske so far. This Sunday Simon and the No. 22 @MenardsRacing team will start on the pole and we wonder if he has a new favorite moment. 🤔😁 #INDYCAR | #ThisIsMay https://t.co/LX10HZXRsb
A year ago, it was Pagenaud's team-mate Will Power who took victory, having started third on the grid.
This season, the Australian hasn't been at his best, with his highest finish being third at the campaign-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. However, from sixth position on the grid, he's more than capable of moving through the field over the course of Sunday's race.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway account shared some of the best moments from last year's race:
Ed Carpenter goes off in second for his eponymous team, while team-mate Spencer Pigot will begin in third.
Carpenter was on pole a year ago and was in a strong position to win, only for lapped cars during halfway-point pitstops to hold him up and allow Power to take advantage. Meanwhile, IndyCar leader Josef Newgarden would love to extend his eight-point lead over Scott Dixon with success on Sunday.
There's also a chance for Helio Castroneves, who begins in 12th, to etch his name into history should he take the checked flag:
Getting through the initial laps unscathed is so important for any potential winner. Although this race is a long one, such are the standards set by the drivers, any slip-up is enough to curtail chances of success.
Pagenaud is driving like a man ready to win the Indy 500 for the first time. His car is performing well, he's experienced and if he gets off the line sharply, the rest of the field will find it tough to cling on to his coattails.
Prediction: 1. Pagenaud, 2. Power, 3. Newgarden