The Indianapolis 500 will be raced this weekend, and it’s being called the most wide-open race in years.
With no clear favorites, and a lot of new faces, this year’s Indy 500 race could be an opportunity for new racing stars to be born.
Helio Castroneves, from the Penske Racing team, is setting his sights on a fourth Indy 500 win. He has a good chance of achieving that, as the first two rows are stacked with drivers from Penske Racing and Andretti Autosport.
Ryan Briscoe is on the pole, with Will Power and Helio Castroneves in the second row. Andretti drivers James Hinchcliffe (Danica Patrick’s replacement) and Ryan Hunter-Reay are in the front row, with Marco Andretti, a third generation Indy 500 driver, in the second.
A Penske driver has a good shot at winning, as their team is undefeated this season, so Helio Castroneves could break into the four-time winners club.
While everyone is guessing who will drive into the winer’s circle, this year’s race is a bittersweet return to tradition. Last year’s Indy 500 champion won’t be in the race. Dan Wheldon will be remembered throughout the weekend as a great racer, a loving husband, and an adoring father.
Dan Wheldon crashed during a race in Las Vegas on October 16, 2011. He was 33 when he died.
This weekend’s typical Indy 500 traditions will be added to with Dan Wheldon’s picture and name everywhere. His likeness hangs at the track’s 16th Street entrance, his face is on the race ticket, and fans will be wearing white sunglasses in his memory.
Danica Patrick will be racing Sunday, but don’t expect to see her at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. She will race in NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday night.
Danica Patrick caught the attention of race fans, and even non-race fans, when she became the first woman to lead laps and score a top-five finish in the 2005 Indy 500—her first 500.
But this year Danica Patrick will have a later start time and a new setting at the Charlotte (North Carolina) Motor Speedway.
So what can we expect to be the same at this year’s Indy 500, the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing?”
Well, there will be milk for the winner (would another racer dare Fittipaldi’s great orange juice escapade of ’93?). Thirty-three racers will vie for that milk, but not until after we hear Back Home Again in Indiana leading up to the release of the balloons.
As another Memorial Day weekend begins, the Indy 500 festivities are gearing up as well. Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines.