Drivers gather for autograph session and meeting at IMS

The field of 33 gathers for the public drivers' meeting the day before the 101st Indianapolis 500. (WXIN May 27, 2017)

SPEEDWAY, Ind. – The 500 field of 33 drivers got together one last time at the Speedway before the 101st running at the annual drivers meeting Saturday morning.

It’s a chance to get the last instructions in a public setting before taking to the track.  Defending champion Alexander Rossi thinks his car and team are getting close to feeling the sweet spot.

“We’re getting there,” said the Andretti Autosport driver.  “It builds day by day during the month.  Tomorrow’s the big one and I’m very much excited about finally getting in the car and running.”

Ganassi Racing’s Tony Kanaan, at age 42, is feeling great, but the race can wait.

“This is so much fun, being with the fans,” added the 2013 500 champion. “This Saturday is great with the parade and the drivers meeting, but tonight we’ll start having butterflies for sure.”

Fans lined up for hours to get autographs of their favorite drivers, with rookie and two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso drawing a huge crowd again. The Spaniard says all the attention all month has been fun and unexpected.

“It’s different, but I’m enjoying because it’s just one race of the year,” said the McLaren Andretti driver. “How you guys deal with this is interesting, but I enjoy it.  I think it’s good to be close to the fans.”

The green flag flies for the 101st running at 12:19 Sunday afternoon, weather permitting.