2014 Indianapolis 500 race day preview
The month of May in Indianapolis ushered in some new traditions and is saying good-bye to beloved old ones.
It's Jim Nabors' last time singing "Back Home Again in Indiana" at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday.
The actor whose bumbling Gomer Pyle character endeared Nabors to an entire generation, and whose rich baritone voice has provided the soundtrack for the Indianapolis 500 for more than four decades, will perform "Back Home Again in Indiana" on Sunday for the last time.
Nabors has been singing it since 1972, when he showed up at the track and expected to sing the national anthem. Instead, he was told sing the Hoosier State's unofficial anthem, and he's been doing it just about every year since.
Nabors is finally stepping away in part because of his health, but he hopes the tradition will carry on through the voices of thousands of race fans who show up every year.
Kurt Busch's Double attempt
On the track, all eyes are on Kurt Busch this weekend as he attempts The Double.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the driving 1,100 miles in the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day. Only John Andretti, Tony Stewart and Robby Gordon have tried it, and Gordon was the last in 2004. Stewart is the only one to complete both races.
Busch has been auto racing's cover boy for more than a month. His bid has been dissected, publicized and splashed on the main page of every major website and news outlet.
Juan Pablo Montoya
Juan Pablo Montoya stormed on to the national scene in 1999 as a brash and fearless rookie who didn't hesitate to challenge the biggest names in open wheel racing.
The 23-year-old Montoya didn't hesitate to drive his car in the most precarious positions, and charged hard in his pursuit of winning races. He collected seven wins and won the CART Series championship, then picked up three more series victories the next year.
He also won the Indianapolis 500 that season in a rout: He led 167 of the 200 laps and beat runner-up Buddy Lazier by more than seven seconds.
Now back in IndyCar after a 14-year absence, Montoya believes he can win the Indy 500 again on Sunday.
Many drivers have tried to segue from driver to car owner. A few of them even thrive. But Michael Andretti has established an auto racing empire.
His hands touch everything from road racing to RallyCross to the innovative Formula E series. He's responsible for developing many in the next generation of stars. He secures sponsorships, chips in on marketing, employs hundreds of people and champions open-wheel racing.
On Sunday, he'll send out five entries from Andretti Autosport for the Indy 500, the one race that has caused him more joy and heartbreak than the others combined.
And while it may not be the end-all, be-all, his son Marco Andretti admits that the race has "fueled this family more than you can believe," and that a victory would mean everything.
This month saw the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis, won by Simon Pagenaud. It was punctuated by a crash at the start of the race when pole-sitter Sebastien Saavedra stalled and Mikhail Aleshin struck him. Juan Pablo Montoya also stalled at the beginning, and Scott Dixon nearly stalled. Drivers seemed to struggle with the standing start, prompting organizers to promise modifications.
Watch WTHR from 5am to noon Sunday for traffic and weather updates from the track, along with driver interviews.