Five Questions for the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500. Coverage begins Sunday at 11 a.m. Eastern on ABC.
1) Does the Andretti Curse end?
Marco Andretti is the clear favorite for Sunday’s race – and after a couple of misses, including a thrilling finish with Sam Hornish Jr. in his rookie year of 2005, can the third generation driver put an end to 43 years of frustration for the famed racing family at Indianapolis? When his grandfather Mario won the race in 1969, expections were that the oldest Andretti would become a multi-winner. Michael Andretti dominated the race during the 1980s, but never took home the checkered flag. The two older Andretti’s won 94 open wheel races – but only one 500. Can Marco breakthrough on Sunday? He starts second after a dominating month from Andretti Autosports. Marco has led 90 laps in his seven starts at Indianapolis including three top-three finishes.
2) How about a fourth four-time winner?
A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears are the only four-time winners of the 500, but both Helio Castroneves and Dario Franchitti have a chance to join that group on Sunday. Both would be the quickest four-time winner ever.
3) Can Ed Carpenter finish the feel good local story?
Carpenter’s pole day story was huge in the local media – as the Indianapolis product who raced up through USAC and Indy Lights is the prototypical story his stepfather Tony George was looking far when he started the Indy Racing League. Carpenter has been very good on ovals during his career – and a win Sunday would be huge in Indiana. It wouldn’t be the story that a Marco Andretti win would bring – but it could bring back some casual fans.
4) Who wins the engine battle?
The Hondas had been a little behind the curve most of the month until a strong performance during Friday’s Carb Day. The top 11 starters are Chevrolets, but the fastest car in final practice, the No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda driven by Simon Pagenaud, was powered by a Honda engine. Over a third of the field will have new engines Sunday, including 11 Hondas.
5) Will the Sato/Foyt marriage end in Victory Lane?
The pairing of Takuma Sato and A.J. Foyt at the start of the season brought some snickering from the paddock, but the pairing has worked so far, led by Larry Foyt, who runs the day-to-day operations. Sato won his first Indy car race when he won the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, the first for A.J. Foyt Racing since 2002. After Sato’s crash on the last lap last year, can he finish with a win in 2013?
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