The Indianapolis 500 isn't just about going around and around for 200 laps. For a start, it's more of a D shape than an oval and has four distinct bends. Couple that with travelling at more than 300km/h for hour after hour with cars in front, either side and behind, and the smallest lapse in concentration can end in tears.

"Concentration is a big part of it. It's like anything, you've got to pick your battles, and as the race wears on, small things may start happening with the car, like a bit of understeer or oversteer. And if you're not concentrating, that's when it can bite you in the arse big time," 2008 winner New Zealander Scott Dixon told the Weekend Herald.

Qualifying for the race is its own circus. Dixon and his Chip Ganassi Racing team didn't quite nail it. However, there was never any doubt they would be in the race. The Kiwi qualified mid-pack in 18th.

"Qualifying was less than desirable. We missed a few big things [car-wise] and the draw [where a driver starts his qualification run] didn't do us any favours either.


"The car was too neutral and loose in the first run. We could still go flat out, but when you turned the car into a corner, the rear started to slide, so you'd lose speed.

"There is a concern starting in the middle of the pack. Things can get a bit crazy in the opening laps, with some drivers wanting to get to the front quickly. Around me, though, are some good veteran drivers such as TK [Tony Kanaan], Charlie [Kimble] and Graham [Rahal], so it's not like too bad," said Dixon.

Although qualifying in itself is entertaining and can be heartbreaking at times — just ask Fernando Alonso and the McLaren team who missed the cut — it's the race that's really counts. Even to the point that the car is set up differently from qualifying to race day.

"Our car changes quite a bit for the race. The geometry changes, as do the dampers and springs, and also the ride height and wing angles, and the list goes on. It is a substantial change for us, but we do only focus on the race during the run-up to this weekend," he said.

Dixon and his team will have a strategy to get where they want to be.

"Our biggest focus is to get as forward as quickly as we can early on in the race and settle into a good position. The weather is looking a bit unsettled this weekend with a chance of rain. We'll also be working on the balance of the car and hope we'll be in a racy situation towards the end of the race.

"Last year, we twisted the strategy a lot and ended up getting third, but honestly, we didn't have the speed. We're better than last year and we've got the speed but so have some of the other teams. If it's a hot day, it'll be a lot better for us," he said.

Picking a winner is hardest of any race on the calendar.


Drivers have won from as far back as 28th, albeit back in 1938, but more recently Ryan Hunter-Reay won from 19th in 2014.

"There are probably more than just four or five who could win. Penske has four drivers that could do it, ECR [Ed Carpenter Racing] cars look pretty good and Carpenter looked good last year to finish second; Andretti cars are looking good as well. I don't really know. There's quite a long list of possible winners, maybe eight to 10.

"We'll just be concentrating and focusing on our race, and if there is a deficit at some point, you just have to figure out how to fix it," said Dixon.