The 93rd Indianapolis 500 - the second of the reunified era - boasts the race's highest quality field in years, despite the economic turbulence affecting the world.
With an abundance of unemployed top drivers available for Indy one-offs, the final weekend of qualifying featured former IndyCar and Champ Car race winners Robert Doornbos, Oriol Servia, Tomas Scheckter, Alex Tagliani, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Bruno Junqueira squabbling over the back few rows of the grid, giving the event huge strength in depth.
There was an austerity feel to this battle - many top teams and drivers are running limited mileage or part-month deals on their equipment to save funds - but that just means the 2009 race has a particularly high calibre of underdog. For so many drivers who deserve full-time rides, this could be their only chance to catch a team or sponsor's eye all season, making race day all the more intense.
At the front, Penske had the early edge in practice and delivered a 1-2 on the grid, although Ganassi was never far behind and Andretti Green is creeping back into contention.
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Matt Beer started freelancing for Autosport.com in the first week of its existence in 1999, and spent the next decade-and-a-half dovetailing increasing amounts of time contributing to it with UK national reporting, driver and team PR, freelance for organisations including ITV, BMW, Autocourse and the FIA Institute and a parallel career co-managing award-winning Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatres.
He stopped being stubborn and became Autosport.com's deputy editor in April 2014. Matt also oversees Haymarket's talent development programme for emerging motorsport writers and escapes to cover Formula Ford 1600 races whenever possible.