Don't know who to watch in Sunday's Indianapolis 500? We don't blame you: IndyCar doesn't get nearly the same publicity NASCAR gets, and yet all of a sudden, here it is, the greatest spectacle in racing, plopped down in the middle of Memorial Day weekend.
So let's get caught up on some things to watch for, as Marco Andretti and Ed Carpenter fight for America's spot in its own event and Dario Franchitti and Helio Castroneves look for history. With a huge hat tip to Chris Smith of Forbes, there are three prominent storylines worth watching at the 2013 Indy 500.
Chance for American victory
The Indy 500 is as American as America can get, and it's been won by an American driver 70 of 96 times. But as the United States has fallen in love with NASCAR and IndyCar has picked up in popularity across the globe, foreign racers have made winning at the Brickyard matter-of-fact: The last American-born winner of the event was Sam Hornish, Jr., back in 2006.
That could very well change this year. Two of the three racers on the front line -- Marco Andretti and Ed Carpenter -- are natives, and are considered the favorites to win. SB Nation's IndyCar expert Matt Weaver ranked them No. 1 and No. 2 in his power ranking of the field of 33, with Weaver calling Carpenter the most talented oval driver in the field, while Andretti leads Bovada's betting odds at 6/1. Weaver outlined Andretti's hypothetical path to victory.
Other noteworthy Americans include Ryan Hunter-Reay, who has more IndyCar wins than all other American-born drivers combined, including four last year and a win at Alabama this year, A.J. Allmendinger, starting on the second line as he tries to prove his worth after switching over from NASCAR, and 1996 winner Buddy Lazier.
Dario Franchitti and Helio Castroneves seeking history
Only three men, each legends of racing, have won the Indy 500 four times: A.J. Foyt, Al Unser, Sr., and Rick Mears. Franchitti and Castroneves -- the only two foreign-born men ever to win the race three times -- are seeking their fourth titles Sunday, looking to enter rarefied air.
Although Castroneves starts on the third line and Franchitti back on the fifth, both are expected to finish near the top Sunday. The Brazilian is hoping to improve on top-three finishes in two of his first four events of the year, and while Franchitti hasn't finished better than fourth on the season, it's hard to count out someone who has won two of the last three races at the Brickyard. Weaver ranked them fourth and fifth in his power rankings.
Female racers move on from Danica
Danica Patrick brought notoriety to IndyCar with her fourth place finish in 2005. She'd continue racing at Indianapolis through 2011, never finishing higher than third. She's left IndyCar behind, but female drivers have stepped up in her wake.
Four female racers will participate in this year's Indy 500, tying a record set in 2010 and 2011 when Patrick was in the field. The four -- Ana Beatriz, Simona de Silvestro, Pippa Mann and Katherine Legge -- are all seeking their first IndyCar wins. They're all long shots, with none placing higher than 100/1 in Bovada's odds, but for one to seriously compete this year would make things interesting.