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FORT WORTH, Texas (May 25, 2017) – Four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon will lead the field to the green flag as the polesitter for Sunday's 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the sixth race of the 17-event season.

Here are "5 Things You Need To Know" with the Verizon IndyCar Series preparing for two of its marquee races of the season in the next three weeks, the other coming Saturday, June 10, at Texas Motor Speedway with the Rainguard Water Sealers 600. The Indy 500 will be broadcast live on ABC-TV beginning on Noon ET/11 CT.

  1. “Bucket List” – The Indianapolis 500 is a bucket list item for plenty of sports fans, but it also turned out to be one for two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso of Spain. Alonso will skip the F1 race in Monaco on Sunday to compete in the Indianapolis 500 for Andretti Autosport. He qualified fifth and has a legitimate shot at winning the race. Alonso’s international popularity also will enhance the worldwide appeal and audience for Sunday’s Indy 500. 
  2. “New Kid On The Penske Block” – Josef Newgarden moved from Ed Carpenter Racing to the Penske Racing powerhouse this season, giving him a huge opportunity to become the next American-born star in open-wheel racing. Newgarden, a 26-year-old from Nashville, Tenn., didn’t take long to get acclimated to his new surroundings, securing a win at Barber Motorsports Park in just his third start with his new organization in April. He took over the No. 2 entry of open-wheel great Juan Pablo Montoya, but the two-time Indy 500 champion also will be running in Sunday’s event as Newgarden’s teammate. Montoya will be starting 18th in the No. 22 entry while Newgarden will start 22nd. 
  3. “Waltzing Back Into Contention” – Canadian James Hinchcliffe, who endured a near-fatal crash at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2015, successfully recovered from his right thigh and left leg being impaled by a suspension piece and his comeback has enjoyed some major highlights. Although he was winless in his return to racing last season, he grabbed the pole position for the 100th running of the Indy 500. Hinchcliffe, who drives for Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports, recorded his first win since the accident with a victory at Long Beach in April. In between, he also competed in the ever-popular “Dancing With The Stars” and finished runner-up with Sharna Burgess in the 11-week competition while gaining new fans along the way. He will start 17th in Sunday’s Indy 500. 
  4. “Prime-Time Drama”Texas Motor Speedway was the stage for last year’s most dramatic finish in the Verizon IndyCar Series as Graham Rahal edged Hinchcliffe by 0.0080 of a second in the annual June event that was completed August 27 following two rain postponements. It was the closest finish of any major series that has competed on TMS’ 1.5-mile oval and fifth-closest in Indy-car history. The final laps featured breathtaking passes for the lead and it was Rahal’s on the final lap that earned him his lone win of last season. 
  5. “Sneak Preview” – Fourteen Verizon IndyCar drivers representing eight organizations got an early preview of the repaved and re-profiled 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway oval on April 12 during a one-day open test session. The drivers were on hand to gather data and information on the new track surface as well as the re-profiling of Turns 1 & 2, where the banking was reduced from 24 to 20 degrees and the racing surface expanded from 60 to 80 feet. The group completed an unofficial total of 2,240 laps in the test with defending series champion Simon Pagenaud leading all drivers with 214 laps. The teams found out that the track will be ultra-fast on the new surface and potentially have four- or five-wide racing in Turns 1 and 2. Scott Dixon recorded the fastest laps in both sessions of the roughly 5½-hour test. He ran a top lap in Session 1 of 219.362 miles per hour and later topped that in the afternoon with a lap of 220.432 mph. Both laps easily surpassed last year's pole-winning speed of 217.137 miles per hour at Texas by Carlos Munoz.

Tickets for the Rainguard Water Sealers 600 are available by visiting www.texasmotorspeedway.com or by calling the speedway ticket office at 817.215.8500.

About the author

The Texas Motor Speedway Media Relations Department is located on the 6th floor of The Speedway Club outside of Turn 1 of the speedway. 

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