The 72nd Indianapolis 500 is a series of questions, which will all be answered Sunday after the checkered flag flies.

A sampling:Will pole-sitter Rick Mears, as his record single lap and four-lap average qualifying speeds of 220.453 and 219.198 mph indicate, run away from the field?

Will May 29 go down in Indy history as the "Penske Holiday," because all three members of that team - Mears, Danny Sullivan and defending champ Al Unser Sr. - started from the first row?

Will Mario Andretti, whose speed duels with Mears earlier this month drew record crowds to the track, finally win his second Indy 500, a victory that has eluded him for 19 years?

Will Al Unser Jr. or Michael Andretti etch his name in the Indy 500 victory column?

Will the Chevrolet V-8 engine, which is powering the top five cars in this race, finally prove that it can win an Indy 500.

Will Bobby Rahal's Judd engine prove that fuel economy means more in a 500-mile race than pure speed?

Will Cosworth's engines surprise everyone? Anyone?

Can Johnny Rutherford win No. 4, or A.J. Foyt No. 5? Can A.J.'s car even last 100 miles?

Will one of the shoestring teams, the unsponsored hopefuls Gary Trout and Steve Chassey, or sentimental favorite son Phil Kruger experience a miracle?

Whatever the answers to those questions, the Indy 500 legend, which annually draws between 350,000 and half-a-million fans, will prevail.

"Just remember," Rutherford said, "the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has one thing the other tracks and other races, even in Europe, do not have - 72 years of tradition.

"You don't buy tradition; you build it. That's what makes it the greatest race in the world."

One question that none of the drivers, team-owners or fans will be asking here, is what will happen when 33 cars thunder out of Turn Four down the main straightaway at 200 mph to take the green flag.

The rookie drivers were counseled Saturday by veteran drivers to beware of an experience that is as frightening to Mario Andretti, a veteran of 25 years on the Indy-car circuit, as it is breathtaking, even awe-inspiring to the fans.

"That's why I love to sit on the pole," Andretti said. "That way you don't have to worry about somebody's dirty air. It's like going into a vortex."

"It's like being sucked into a black hole," said Rahal, the 1986 champ. "Just getting through Turn One is half the battle."

Sullivan, the 1985 champion, puts it more simply: "You can't win the race in the first corner, but you sure can lose it."

Defending champion Al Unser Sr. adds: "There isn't anything that worries a guy so much as qualifying back in the pack, because so much can happen in front of you on that first turn, like Josele (Garza) in front of me last year (when Unser Sr. started 20th)."

Garza spun out on the first lap in Turn One, hit the wall and bounced back into the center of the track, where Unser was fortunate to avoid him.