The iconic month of May opens this weekend as the IndyCar Series races on the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the fourth time.
Unofficially the kickoff of an exciting two-plus weeks at the Brickyard, the Grand Prix of Indianapolis is the 82-lap lead-in to the start of Indianapolis 500 practice next Monday.
Here are five things to watch this Saturday:
1. THE RETURN OF JUAN PABLO
As was always the plan when it was announced he wouldn't return to Team Penske full-time in 2017, Juan Pablo Montoya is back for the month of May at Indianapolis.
Following a successful May of 2015 in which he finished third in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and won his second Indianapolis 500, Montoya struggled through the month a year ago. His last-place finish in the 500 following an eighth-place effort in the Grand Prix was a disappointment for the 41-year-old Columbian.
Montoya tested last month in preparation for the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and will get plenty of track time on the oval beginning Monday. Expect the 15-time Indy car race winner to be up to speed quickly and a threat to win both races at Indy this month.
2. PENSKE SUPERTEAM
Adding Montoya to the already-impressive foursome of drivers in the Team Penske paddock makes "Roger's Army" even more formidable this month.
Through the first four races of the IndyCar season, Team Penske has captured two victories and all four poles with its stable of four drivers — Will Power, Simon Pagenaud, Helio Castroneves and Josef Newgarden.
Like nearly every other stop on the IndyCar schedule, Team Penske has a history of success on the Indianapolis road course. Power and Pagenaud have won the last two runnings of this event, with Castroneves finishing second in 2016.
When Newgarden joined the team in the off-season, it gave Team Penske the top four finishers in the 2016 season points standings. That dominance has continued into 2017.
3. GETTING THROUGH TURN 1
The opening lap has not been kind to IndyCar so far this season, with three of the first four events seeing a caution wave due to contact on lap 1, including the multi-car crash at Phoenix that took out nearly half of Honda's contingent of drivers.
Chances are, that trend will continue on Saturday afternoon. Turn 1 on the Indianapolis road course is one of the more perilous in the series, with cars decelerating at the end of the frontstretch into a funnel-like turn 1 that is ripe for contact. Last year, it was Tony Kanaan who saw his day end in some first-turn mayhem.
Conventional wisdom would make you believe that drivers will place nice in the first turn of the first race of the month, but that is rarely the case.
4. ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT'S HOPEFUL MONTH
Twice in the last three years, Michael Andretti's race team has celebrated in Victory Lane with milk as Indianapolis 500 winners. With struggle after struggle during the opening four races of this season, Andretti Autosport is hoping that this May brings about more fruitful results.
Entering this weekend, Ryan Hunter-Reay is the top Andretti Autosport driver in the points standings in ninth, 77 points behind the first-place Pagenaud. Takuma Sato, Alexander Rossi and Marco Andretti are even further down in the standings, mere afterthoughts in the race for the championship at this point.
The frustrating thing for Andretti Autosport is that its drivers have had pace, but a combination of mechanical issues, miscues and bad luck have mired the quartet to the middle of the standings, or worse.
5. SCOTT DIXON ON THE CUSP
Despite two podiums and no finish worse than fifth through four races, 2017 signifies the deepest into a season that Scott Dixon has gone without a win since 2014.
Dixon and Chip Ganassi Racing enter this weekend with something to prove as the race team has not yet won this season. Dixon in particular is looking to have a solid finish on the Indianapolis road course, with his average finish being 10th in the first three runnings of this event.
Honda Performance Development has shown increased power on the street and road circuits this year compared to the last few seasons. That should be showcased again on Saturday through the Indianapolis Motor Speedway infield. Look for Dixon to be a player in attempting to get May started off right.
GRAND PRIX OF INDIANAPOLIS, Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ABC.
Type: 13-turn 2.534-mile temporary road course
First race: 2014
Lap record: 1:09.4886 (Will Power, 2015, IndyCar Series)
Distance: 199.998 miles
IndyCar on Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course
Winningest driver: Simon Pagenaud (2)
Winningest team: Team Penske (2)
Winningest engine manufacturer: Chevrolet (2)
Recent race winners on Indianapolis road course
2014 - Simon Pagenaud
2015 - Will Power
2016 - Simon Pagenaud
Points standings (after 4 of 17 races)
1. Simon Pagenaud, 159
2. Scott Dixon, -18
3. Josef Newgarden, -26
4. Sebastien Bourdais, -31
5. James Hinchcliffe, -39