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2012 Indy 500: Who should you watch?

Indianapolis 500: The 96th running of the Indianapolis 500 this Sunday is a global race, including drivers from Brazil, England, Canada, and the US. But no one, not even Australian pole sitter Ryan Briscoe, is a surefire favorite.

By Staff / May 26, 2012

Team Penske driver Ryan Briscoe of Australia sits in his race car while his crew work on a pit stop during practice time at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis May 25. Briscoe will start on the pole position for the Indianapolis 500 which is scheduled to run on May 27.

Geoff Miller/REUTERS

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On Sunday, 33 drivers from 15 different countries will line up for the 96th Indianapolis 500, including three past winners in Helio Castroneves, Dario Franchitti, and Scott Dixon.

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Perseverance is the watchword when it comes to racing 200 laps on a 2.5-mile oval in Indiana's late spring heat. And some weather forecasters are calling for record high temperatures at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

There are a number of drivers from the same country in 'The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.'

Castroneves heads up a group of four Brazilians. Tony Kanaan has led the Indy 500 for stretches in the past, but never won the race. Rubens Barrichello and Ana Beatriz, one of three women, are also in this year's field of Brazilians.

Castroneves is part of the Roger Penske race team. Sunday, Penske will celebrate the 40th anniversary of his first Indy 500 win as an owner. The Brazilian driver has won Indy three times himself and knows how special another win this weekend would be, according to SI.com.

"It's cool when you think of it that way," he said. "Forty plus four, it would be great for me and for Roger as well. But that's not how we think about it."

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Franchitti, the defending champion starting in Row 6, is from Scotland. Four other drivers from England - Mike Conway, Justin Wilson, and Indy rookies James Jakes and Katherine Legge - will also be on the track Sunday.

Franchitti told USA Today his car has had engine problems this season, but knows he has a chance even starting from the middle of the pack.

"(The starting position) will certainly change those first laps — turbulence and all those things," he said. "Hopefully we're quick enough and the car is well balanced enough that we can get our way up through there. It should become apparent about the middle part of the race."

There are nine Americans in the 33-car field, led by Ryan Hunter-Reay, who will start in the front row. He will be joined out front by pole sitter Ryan Briscoe of Australia and Canada's James Hinchcliffe. Fellow American Marco Andretti, grandson of former Indy 500 champion Mario Andretti, will start in the second row.

Some observers think this is the group that will produce the 2012 Indy 500 champion.

The Indianapolis 500 will be televised Sunday on ABC, beginning at 11 a.m. Eastern time.

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