Indy 500 2016: Drivers predicting 'epic' 100th running of race

Leading IndyCar drivers believe the 100th Indianapolis 500 will be one of the closest ever given the level of competition so far and the number of top drivers starting mid-pack

Indy 500 2016: Drivers predicting 'epic' 100th running of race

Last year's winner Juan Pablo Montoya starts 17th, while reigning champion Scott Dixon is 13th and his Carb Day pacesetting Ganassi team-mate Tony Kanaan is 18th.

Kanaan said he felt in good company starting in the midfield this year.

"I'm happy with my car - obviously I have to pass 17 people before I get really happy with my car," he said.

"But after the struggle in qualifying, we really focused, me and Dixon, on the race and you can see both of us up there.

"Anybody who counts us out, it's a big mistake. But it will be more exciting for the fans.

"One thing that eases my mind a little bit, there are a lot of good guys back there with me.

"If you look around Juan Pablo Montoya, Charlie Kimball, Scott Dixon, they're very experienced guys back there, which sometimes is not the case.

"Patience is going to be a big factor here because it's not as easy to pass as it used to be in recent years.

"So you're going to have a tendency of people being extremely impatient and putting themselves where two cars don't fit.

"Being extra cautious I don't think is going to be a bad thing. After the last stop, it's time to go."

Dixon expects a large group of cars to be in contention.

"I don't think anybody is going to pull away from the pack," he said.

"This style of racing now is so confined it is hard to break away but on race day the field will string out a little bit.

"But it's going to be an exciting one. All I keep saying is this is going to be an epic race."

Second-row starter Carlos Munoz was among the practice pacesetters, and believes most of the field has shown speed during the month.

"All 33 drivers want to win this race. All of them can come into contention for the win," he said.

"They look strong, a lot of them. This is the closest competition ever."

The 2016 event is the first time the Indy 500 has achieved a complete sellout, and will boast the biggest crowd since 1995 - the last race before the CART/Indy Racing League split.

Kanaan, the 2013 winner, said he had never known crowds so big through the build-up.

"It's definitely more crowded," he said.

"I've been here for 15 years and I've never, never seen anything like this.

"I hope it's the big jump that we needed to bring the 500 back to where it belongs."

Three-time winner Helio Castroneves said crowds for final practice on Friday proved the Indy 500 was "back".

"This is awesome," he said. "This is the first time I've seen the crowd this big for Carb Day. This proves the community loves this place."

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