The Kentucky Derby and the Preakness have already provided two fantastic duels, and Sunday offers The Greatest Spectacle in Racing: the Indianapolis 500.
A full 33-car field is set for the 96th running at Indianapolis Motor Speedway as the great tradition enters its 101st year.
Leading the odds to win the Indy 500 are Marco Andretti at 10-1, Ryan Hunter-Reay at 12-1 and Josef Newgarden at 20-1. Also in the running are Graham Rahal (35-1), J.R. Hildebrand (40-1), Ed Carpenter (75-1), Charlie Kimball (100-1), Townsend Bell (125-1) and Bryan Clauson (150-1).
After taking the closest ever qualifying for the pole, Ryan Briscoe will be the man starting in first for Team Penske on Sunday. He edged James Hinchcliffe by .0023 seconds to earn his first ever Indy 500 pole.
While the Indy 500 is undoubtedly one of the better auto races hosted on American soil, fans haven't had so much to cheer about recently as an American hasn't won the race since Sam Hornish Jr. accomplished the feat in 2006. That was only the second time since 1998 than an American took the checkered flag. The Americans appear to be getting close, though, as Hildebrand and Graham Rahal finished second and third last season.
This year's field has a couple of good shots. Ryan Hunter-Reay, fourth in the standings with 121 points, will start in third place and may have the best chance. He's in the midst of his best season so far with two top-three finishes in the first four races, including a second-place result in the Sao Paolo Indy in his latest start. The No. 28 car has yet to earn a win this season, but it does have three victories in his 75 career starts. His best result at the Indy 500 was sixth in 2008.
Many eyes will be on Hildebrand, who just lost out to the late Dan Wheldon last season but will be looking to do one spot better. Captain America crashed into the wall on Turn 4 and was passed by Wheldon with just 200 yards to go. This Sunday, he'll start in Row 6 after finishing with the 18th-best qualifying time.
Rahal has had an up-and-down year, but he finished third at the Indy 500 last year, so he could very well be in contention. He'll start in Row 5, two spots ahead of fellow American Kimball, who has yet to register a win just 21 races into his young career.
Andretti will start fourth, and he's an intriguing possibly to end the American drought. The sprite 25-year-old is not only the grandson of legendary driver Mario Andretti, but he's also come pretty close at drinking the milk himself. Andretti has finished third twice (2008, 2010) and second once (2006), so don't be surprised if he's in contention. He's never been higher than seventh on the starting grid, so the fourth slot in Row 2 will surely help his cause.
Other Americans in the field are Newgarden (seventh), Bell (20th), Carpenter (28th) and Clauson (31st). This will be the first start in the Indy 500 for both Newgarden and Clauson.
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