IndyCar's Dutch answer to F1's Max Verstappen

Scott Dixon will lead the field at the start of the 105th running of the Indy 500 later today, but the Chip Ganassi Racing veteran will be followed like a shadow by a pair of young guns whose cumulated age almost equals that of the 40-year-old Kiwi!

Dixon will be flanked on Row 1 by Andretti Autosport's Colton Herta, 21, and Ed Carpenter Racing's Rinus Veekay, 20.

And the whisper in Gasoline Alley is that the latter is the favourite to pull off a mighty upset despite his significant lack of experience.

VeeKay's path to IndyCar and burgeoning talent has often been compared to Max Verstappen's early days in F1, an analogy that hasn't been lost on the young charger's mentor, two-time Indy 500 winner Arie Luyendyk who has taken his countryman under his wing.

"It’s already a pleasure to have him giving me advice," said VeeKay. "Sometimes it’s a little tough because he’s a steward, he’s in race control.

"I met Arie in 2016, when he heard about a Dutch kid trying to make it to IndyCar. Then in my first year [in the Road to Indy] I made some cool moves, I won some races.

"He was like, ‘Well, I’m quite impressed.’ He started to get at little more involved. Right now I think he’s as excited as I am.

"It’s a healthy relationship we have. I’m very proud of what he has done in the past. I think he’s starting to get proud of me, too."

Rinus admits to "living the dream" in IndyCar, but winning the blue riband event and imposing his youth and talent over the experience of many of his front-running rivals will be a tall order on Sunday afternoon.

But after he qualified third at the Brickyard last week, Luyendyk reminded him of a personal worthy Indy 500 stat that sounded like a good omen.

"Arie came to me after my run. He told me, ‘It took me five years to get to the front row. Once I started third, I won the race.’

"Let’s hope I can do the same as Arie."