Well, the time is finally here: the biggest sporting event in the world! And the best as far as I’m concerned. Sunday is the 96th running of the Indianapolis 500.
It is a day that is much more than a race. It is the crowd. It is the colors. It is the sounds. It is the tears that will be flowing from my eyes (along with everyone else’s) during the playing of Taps. It is the singing of Back Home Again in Indiana. It is the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
From the yellow shirts yelling at patrons to hustle across Gasoline Alley to the fans tailgating in the Coke Lot, it is a tradition unmatched in sports. Every year you go back, you realize how special this event really is.
As for this year’s race, there is definitely no lack of talent in the field. You’ve got your usual Penske and Ganassi contenders, but there are also a whole host of others who have a shot to win. Look no further than a trio of Andretti Autosport drivers (Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay) to potentially do this. Also, do NOT count out the young rookie Josef Newgarden, who has been oh so impressive all month long.
My pick though: HELIO CASTRONEVES.
It’s tough to pick against a Chevy engine in the race (Penske cars have them) and it’s especially tough to pick against a three-time winner (Castroneves). He’s been up there all month long on the speed charts, so why not select him as your fourth four-time winner at the famed Indy 500?
And of course, one of the biggest parts of tomorrow will be the reminders around the entire Speedway for 2-time Indy 500 winner Daniel Clive Wheldon. Whether it’s the tribute lap that Bryan Herta is driving or the sunglasses given to the fans, the crowd will be able to remember the man who captivated everyone he talked to. It will be tough for everyone (me included) who had interacted with Dan in the past. There will be no shortage of tears throughout tomorrow, but take comfort in the fact that he will be smiling down on all of us tomorrow afternoon. There will be sadness, but it’s also a day to remember the greatness he brought all of us in our lives.