Sometimes referred to as the greatest spectacle in racing, the Indianapolis 500 has certainly lived up to its reputation. For more than 100 years, the annual race has pitted some of the most talented drivers in auto racing and has become one of the most widely-attended events in all of sports. Hundreds of thousands of fans get their hands on Indy 500 tickets each year, and 2012 should be no different.
There are a lot of storylines to consider entering race weekend, but perhaps most interesting is just how wide open this year's event is. It's always hard predicting a winner at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but few analysts have been able to offer up a clear cut favorite. A lot of attention has been given to Australian driver Ryan Briscoe, who captured the pole position last weekend, but he certainly has a lot of competition right behind him.
There are many big name drivers who will vie for the Indy 500 crown. In particular, Briscoe should be on the lookout for Andretti Autosport drivers - three of whom will be starting right behind him. Among them is Marco Andretti, who is the grandson of racing legend Mario Andretti and has been especially successful in his early career.
Fans should also keep their eye on Brazil's Helio Castroneves. The racing veteran has captured three Indy 500 titles before, with the most recent coming in 2009. With 19 wins in the IndyCar Series, he is one of the most decorated drivers in the sport.
If this year's race is anything like the 2011 incarnation, it will not leave anybody disappointed. Even the most casual of racing fans remember how last year's ended. JR Hildebrand, making his first start in an Indy 500, entered the final lap in first place and seemed destined to claim the title. However, he crashed on the final turn, allowing veteran Dan Wheldon to pass him in the final 200 yards.
Will this year be just as exciting? There's no reason to think it won't be. With no clear cut favorite, the title is anyone's to capture. Will Hildebrand earn redemption for last year's mistake? Will Castrovenes win his fourth title? Or Will Marco be able to break the dreaded Andretti Curse? There's only one way to find out.
Who's your pick to win it?