Eight days of practice — check . Pole Day — check. Bump day — check. Carb day — check. All that remains now is running the five hundred mile marathon that is the Indianapolis 500 to discover who will next garner the Borg Warner trophy with their likeness. The Indianapolis 500 is among the greatest sporting events of the year and the largest in the world. Better than three hundred thousand people will enter the turnstiles of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to watch the Greatest Spectacle in Racing unfold for the 97th time on Sunday May 26, 2013. Storylines and things to watch are abound in this year’s edition so here is your Indianapolis 500 primer.
COMPETITION, COMPETITION, COMPETITION
The 2012 version of the Indianapolis 500 was the most exciting, close, competitive race in the history of the event recording a record number of lead changes. Expect that number to be eclipsed once again in 2013 as teams and drivers have a full year developing the DW12 IndyCar chassis and engine package under their belt. Each competitor, full season campaign participants in particular, has greater understanding of the DW12 car and what technical aspects make the car go fast. There is no Lotus this year so everyone can be assured of adequate, competitive horsepower to carve through the field regardless of where he or she is located on the starting grid. Driverwise, this field has more depth of talent than ever before with at least twenty five cars that have a realistic opportunity to drink the milk in Victory Lane when the race is over.
HAVE TO MAKE A PIT STOP
Pit stops are an essential part of the Indianapolis 500 because the race requires the most stops on the INDYCAR schedule. Mistakes on pit lane have resulted in many disappointments over the years and this year will be no different. Most of the time, a team must be perfect on pit lane to have an opportunity to compete for the win in the final stages of the race. A botched pit stop by Mike Conway resulted in removing himself and Will Power from competition while Dario Franchitti was spun on pit lane early. Granted, Franchitti emerged victorious but such cases are the exception more than the norm at Indianapolis. Execution on pit road is absolutely essential to winning the race.
CHEVROLET VS. HONDA 2.0
Like the 2012 race, Chevrolet gave Honda an knockout punch in qualifying sweeping the top 10 positions on the starting grid, but we’ve all read this melodrama before. Honda came back in force in the race and won the Indianapolis fight rematch stealing the race win leaving Chevrolet with unfinished business. Though Honda is expected to come through the field and make their way to the front, Chevrolet should put up a bigger fight than last year which means more excitement is in store. Chevrolet has the advantage of greater talent as it powers Team Penske and Andretti Autosport who are the favorites to win, but don’t count Honda out because they still have the powerhouse of Chip Ganassi Racing on their side.
THE RIVALRY RACES TO FOUR
Few rivalries in sports are as respectfully heated as that of Team Penske and Target Chip Ganassi Racing in the IZOD IndyCar Series but this year’s Indianapolis 500 takes it to another level. Each team has a driver pursuing a feat only accomplished by three other drivers in the history of the 500, a fourth win. Helio Castroneves and Dario Franchitti both have cars, teams, and abilities to take them to the promised land at the Mecca of auto racing, but, alas, only one of them can capture their fourth win on Sunday if the speedway decides to allow a fourth four-time winner. Penske and Ganassi are respectfully competitive and each would love to beat the other to the four time winner club. Is tomorrow the day?
EYES ON THE SKY
It is long been believed that the teams have no control over who wins, but it is the hollowed ground of the Brickyard that decides who will finish on top. One of the Speedway’s greatest allies in her decision is asking Mother Nature to provide twists in the melodrama. The forecast for the race is for a high temperature of 66 degrees, thirty degrees cooler than last year, and a forty percent chance of rain. Indianapolis Motor Speedway is hyper sensitive to weather so teams will have to stay on top of the forecast and strategize accordingly to be successful in being fast.
SIT BACK, RELAX, AND ENJOY THE SHOW
This will be the race of the year, at least so far, in terms of drama, excitement, competition, and, most of all, enjoyment. This field is so competitive and so closely matched that it cannot help but be enthralling to the viewer. Whether you are an avid race fan or know nothing about it this race will be the one to watch of the weekend and perhaps of the year. Enjoy the show, everyone…it is going to be an epic one!