The 93rd running of the Indianapolis 500 is Sunday, and this year's race boasts one of the deepest fields in the event's history. With the return of
SI.com's racing writers weigh in with their picks.
Six drivers have the car and the talent to win this year's 500: Helio Castroneves,
Will Helio Castroneves or
They understand this is 500 miles and there are plenty of pit stops to work on optimizing the car for the final 100 miles, when races are won. This will be Castroneves' ninth and Dixon's seventh start at Indy; they have the experience to keep their cars tuned to the changing track conditions -- the key to winning. Castroneves has always been a front-runner at Indianapolis; he won in his first two starts and was second in his third. He's been third and fourth the past two years. Dixon's success has been gradual, sixth in 2006 and second in 2007, before winning last year. Who to pick? I'll take Castroneves by a car length. He's overdue for that third victory.
Ever since he was acquitted of tax evasion charges in a Miami federal court on April 17, Castroneves has been riding a magical wave of popularity and success. Winning the Indianapolis 500 pole two weeks ago was the latest bit of fortune to come his way, but his biggest prize of all will come Sunday when he becomes a three-time winner of the Indianapolis 500.
Still, don't discount Tony Kanaan. This fierce "Pit Bull" of a driver is the only one in the field who has led a lap in every Indy 500 he has competed in since his debut in 2002. He believes his bad luck is out of the way after switching cars to qualify two weeks ago. If fierce determination is necessary to win the Indy 500, then Kanaan will once again be a contender at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Race Day.
What better way to celebrate a new (unincarcerated) life phase than becoming just the sixth man -- joining
He's always in play, having finished on the podium in half of his eight starts at Indianapolis. The story of a Castroneves victory will be a boon for the Indy Racing League and a national rehabilitation campaign for his image, and open wheel racing will rule Memorial Day again ... unless, of course, former Indy 500-winners
The Winner Is ... Helio Castroneves. Castroneves is in perfect position to win his third Indy 500 just two months after exoneration for tax fraud. Driving like a man with a new lease on life, the pole-sitter has been nearly a mile an hour faster than anyone else at Indy all month. If he doesn't suffer a mechanical breakdown, he'll hand the IRL a great story and some much-needed national publicity not named Danica.
Keep An Eye On ...Dario Franchitti. The former Indy 500 champ is back in the IRL full-time after a failed attempt at NASCAR in '08. The Chip Ganassi cars have been a bit behind the Penske curve this month, but if something happens to the top two, expect the Scot to take advantage.