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Indy 500 Preview

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The IndyCar Series takes center stage in the sports world on Sunday with the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500. The racers will navigate this 2.5-mile "rectangular" oval track 200 times in front of more than a quarter million people in the stands to determine the winner. This will be the first oval track for these drivers this season, as the first four IndyCar races took place on street courses. Indianapolis Motor Speedway has nine-degree banking on all turns with completely flat straightaways.
 
Only five different drivers have won the past eight races here, with defending champion Dario Franchitti taking home three titles during this span (2007, 2010, 2012) and the late Dan Wheldon winning twice (2005 and 2011). Ed Carpenter (7-to-1 odds) won the pole position for this race, but Marco Andretti is the race favorite at 5-to-1 odds. This edition of the Indy 500 features four rookies (A.J. Allmendinger, Carlos Munoz, Conor Daly and Tristan Vautier) and four women (Simona de Silvestro, Ana Beatriz, Katherine Legge and Pippa Mann).
 
Drivers to Watch
 
Dario Franchitti (8/1) - He has a great chance to join the legendary trio of A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears as the only drivers to capture four Indy 500 titles. Although he's starting 17th, Franchitti won this race from the 16th starting spot last year, and even fell to 28th place after being bumped by E.J. Viso in pit row before pulling off his incredible comeback. And after bad luck kept the No. 10 car from finishing the first two races of the 2013 season, Franchitti has placed 4th and 7th in his past two starts.
 
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Tony Kanaan (10/1)
- Kanaan has never won this race, but he placed third in last year's Indy 500, marking his fifth top-5 showing in his past 10 races at this track. Only twice during this span did he finish outside the top-12. Kanaan will start one row back (12th) of where he began last year's race (8th), but with double-digit odds, the No. 11 car is certainly worth a look on Sunday.
 
Helio Castroneves (6/1) - The most recent of his three career wins in this event came in 2009, continuing his monster success at this venue. He has garnered a top-10 finish in 10 of 12 career starts at the Indy 500, and has a superb chance of doing that again from the middle of Row 3. Castroneves is also off to a strong start in the 2013 season with a runner-up at St. Petersburg and a third-place showing at Birmingham before respectable finishes of 10th and 13th in the past two starts.
 
Ryan Briscoe (35/1) - If you're looking for a darkhorse, take a chance by placing a unit wager on Briscoe. He was last year's Indy 500 pole-winner and parlayed that into a strong fifth-place showing. Although Briscoe will start his engine in Row 8 (23rd spot) on Sunday, he has always raced well in Indianapolis when he's avoided crashing. Of his seven starts in this event, he's crashed three times, but in the four Indy 500 races he was able to fully complete, Briscoe placed 5th, 5th, 10th and 15th.
 
Alex Tagliani (60/1) - The best longshot on the board has usually been near the front of the pack at this speedway, placing 10th, 11th in 12th in three of his four career starts at the Indy 500. The lone exception was in 2011, when despite having the pole position to begin the race, Tagliani crashed on lap 148. He's also starting in a healthy position on Sunday (11th) and in each of his four races this season, Tagliani has tallied a better finishing position (13.0 avg.) than starting position (17.0 avg.).

  
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