Thirty-three drivers will take the green flag early Sunday afternoon (11 a.m. ET on ABC) for the 98th Indianapolis 500, each with their own story. But some are in position to make history.
Kurt Busch’s Marathon Day
It’s actually been a marathon couple of weeks for Kurt Busch, who will attempt to become the fourth driver to run the Indianapolis 500 and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 600-mile race at Charlotte in the same day. Here’s how the past three have fared.
- • John Andretti (part of the storied Andretti family tree) was the first to pull it off in 1994, finishing 10th in Indianapolis but 36th in Charlotte.
• Tony Stewart had the most success, finishing in the top 10 in both races in both of his attempts, 1999 and 2001. In 2001, Stewart became the only driver to complete all 1,100 miles of racing.
• Robby Gordon started both races in the same day in 2002, 2003 and 2004, but also is the best example for what could go wrong. In 2000, Gordon ran the Indianapolis 500, but didn’t make it to Charlotte in time for the start of the race. If that happens to Busch, he wouldn’t receive any points, damaging his hopes to make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Helio’s Place in History
Helio Castroneves won in his first Indianapolis 500 start in 2001, and quickly added another in 2002.
Most Career Wins Indianapolis 500 History
Castroneves will be making his 14th start in the race, which would tie Mears for the fastest to reach four wins. Foyt won his fourth in his 20th attempt. Unser in his 22nd.
Juan Pablo’s Return
In 2000, Indianapolis 500 rookie Juan Pablo Montoya dominated, leading 167 of 200 laps and winning by more than seven seconds. That is his only career start in this race. Montoya will now try to join Castroneves as the only drivers to win their first two Indianapolis 500 starts.
Indianapolis native Ed Carpenter is on the pole for a second straight year, the first driver to do that since Castroneves in 2009-10.
To Win Indianapolis 500
Now, he’ll try to pull off a win in front of his hometown crowd.
Only two Indianapolis natives have ever won this race, and none since Bill Cummings in 1934. Historically, the front is the best place to start, as 43 of 97 Indy 500s (44 percent) have been won from the front row.
Will Youth be Served?
Last year, Carlos Muñoz started second and finished second as a 21-year-old Indianapolis 500 rookie behind 38-year-old winner Tony Kanaan.
This year, he’ll roll off second again, and with a win would become the second-youngest winner in the race’s history, behind only Troy Ruttman, who was about a month younger when he won in 1952.
Up For Another Classic?
If you’re not excited by any of the main contenders, the race itself is set up to be another classic.
Last year’s Indianapolis 500 featured 68 lead changes, doubling the previous record set in 2012. Besides that, last year’s Indianapolis 500 was the fastest in event history (averaging 187.433 MPH), and also had a record 14 leaders.