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PREVIEW: Indianapolis 500 (Predictions, Weather, Starting Grid)

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Credit: Travis Hinkle/Penske Entertainment

As they do every May, the eyes of the racing world fall on Indianapolis this weekend. The Indianapolis 500 is set to go green for the 108th time on Sunday, and it comes at one of the most exciting times for the series in recent memory.

Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin roared to the fastest-ever pole speed on last weekend, setting the pace around IMS at an average of 234.220 miled per hour over a four-lap run. Teammates Will Power and Josef Newgarden will join the Kiwi on the front row, becoming the first team to lock out the front row at Indy since the Penske squad in 1988. That performance comes after one of the most tumultuous times in team history – a situation which still leaves the team shorthanded for Sunday’s race.

Kyle Larson qualified fifth for the race, and will attempt to run both the Indy 500 and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte later Sunday night. While weather may affect Larson’s timing, Nolan Siegel is the backup option should Larson not be able to compete in part or all of the race at Indianapolis. Siegel’s No. 51 car for Dale Coyne Racing was the sole car that failed to qualify last weekend.

Eight former Indianapolis winners are in the field this week, and five of them are starting on the first four rows. Marcus Ericsson is the lowest qualifying past winner in the field, as he struggled after a crash in practice over a week ago. Helio Castroneves has the chance for a record fifth 500 win after capturing his fourth in 2021.

A Lap around Indianapolis

Indianapolis Motor Speedway was constructed by Carl G. Fisher in 1909. The first Indianapolis 500 was held in 1911, and the rest, they say, is history. Over the years, IMS has built a legacy so strong that it is now known as “The Racing Capital of the World”, making motorsports synonymous with the city of Indianapolis and the state of Indiana. Besides the 500, IMS has hosted NASCAR’s Brickyard 400, Formula 1’s United States Grand Prix, and many other racing and non-racing events over the years.

A lap around Indianapolis starts at the “Yard of Bricks”, the only bricks left on the 2.5-mile track that was once covered entirely by the material. After that, it’s a hard left turn into Turn 1, known as one of the most daunting in all of racing due to its narrow width and relatively shallow banking of nine degrees, along with the massive grandstands that seem to stand directly on top of the track.

Drivers then speed through the first of the 0.125-mile “short chutes” before turning into Turn 2, which is also banked at nine degrees. The 0.625-mile long back stretch allows drivers to reach speeds of up to 240 miles per hour and is the site of many overtakes before Turn 3 turns drivers toward another short chute.

Turn 4 whips drivers back around to the front stretch, with hundreds of thousands of fans lining both sides of the track as drivers pass over the Yard of Bricks to complete a lap at Indianapolis.

Sunday’s race will consist of 200 laps, spanning 500 miles.

Starting Grid

  1. Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske – 234.220 mph (Average qualifying speed)
  2. Will Power, Team Penske – 233.917 mph
  3. Josef Newgarden, Team Penske – 233.808 mph
  4. Alexander Rossi, Arrow McLaren – 233.090 mph
  5. Kyle Larson, Arrow McLaren – 232.846 mph
  6. Santino Ferruci, A.J. Foyt Racing – 232.692 mph
  7. Rinus VeeKay, Ed Carpenter Racing – 232.610 mph
  8. Pato O’Ward, Arrow McLaren – 232.584 mph
  9. Felix Rosenqvist, Meyer Shank Racing – 232.305 mph
  10. Takuma Sato, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing – 232.171 mph
  11. Kyle Kirkwood, Andretti Global – 230.993 mph
  12. Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing/Cusick Motorsports – 230.567 mph
  13. Colton Herta, Andretti Global – 232.316 mph
  14. Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing – 232.306 mph
  15. Callum Ilott, Arrow McLaren – 232.230 mph
  16. Marcus Armstrong, Chip Ganassi Racing – 232.183 mph
  17. Ed Carpenter, Ed Carpenter Racing – 232.017 mph
  18. Kyffin Simpson, Chip Ganassi Racing – 231.948 mph
  19. Marco Andretti, Andretti Global – 231.890 mph
  20. Helio Castroneves, Meyer Shank Racing – 231.871 mph
  21. Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing – 231.851 mph
  22. Agustin Canapino, Juncos Hollinger Racing – 231.847 mph
  23. Sting Ray Robb, A.J. Foyt Racing – 231.826 mph
  24. Christian Rasmussen, Ed Carpenter Racing – 231.682 mph
  25. Tom Blomqvist, Meyer Shank Racing – 231.578 mph
  26. Romain Grosjean, Juncos Hollinger Racing – 231.514 mph
  27. Linus Lundqvist, Chip Ganassi Racing – 231.506 mph
  28. Christian Lundgaard, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing – 231.465 mph
  29. Conor Daly, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing/Cusick Motorsports – 231.243 mph
  30. Pietro Fittipaldi, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing – 231.100 mph
  31. Katherine Legge, Dale Coyne Racing – 230.092 mph
  32. Marcus Ericsson, Andretti Global – 230.027 mph
  33. Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing – 229.974 mph
  • Drivers listed in bold indicate past Indy 500 winners.
  • Drivers listen in italics indicate Indy 500 rookies

Championship Standings

Reigning series champion Palou has gained the advantage over Power, but with qualifying points to be added in addition to race points this weekend, things can change quickly.

  1. Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing – 152 points
  2. Will Power, Team Penske – 140
  3. Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing – 127
  4. Colton Herta, Andretti Global – 127
  5. Felix Rosenqvist, Meyer Shank Racing – 107

Race Predictions

Given the weather forecast for Sunday, there is a decent chance part or all of the race will be run on Monday, where winds of 20 miles per hour or more are expected. That will make it harder for those further back in the field to pass, which is why I believe Scott McLaughlin will win from pole.

  1. Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske
  2. Josef Newgarden, Team Penske
  3. Felix Rosenqvist, Meyer Shank Racing

Weekend Schedule

  • Final Practice (Carb Day): Friday, 5/24 – 11:00 a.m. EST/15:00 GMT on Peacock/Sky Sports F1
  • Pit Stop Competition: Friday, 5/24 – 2:30 p.m. EST/18:30 GMT on Peacock/Sky Sports F1
  • 108th Running of the Indianapolis 500: Sunday, 5/26 – 11:00 a.m. EST/15:00 GMT on NBC/Sky Sports F1 (200 laps, green flag at 12:45/16:45)

All IndyCar sessions are covered live by IndyCar Radio, which can be found on the official IndyCar mobile app or on SiriusXM Channel 160.

For a list of international broadcasters, click here

Weather Forecast

On-track action at the Indy 500 hasn’t been affected by rain since 2007, when Dario Franchitti won a rain shortened race. Sunday’s forecast isn’t the most promising, with the National Weather Service giving an 80% chance of gain for the area on Sunday, with a shower and a potential thunderstorm coming through during the afternoon.

Per IndyCar Series rules, a 200-lap race can be declared “official” once more than 50% of the race is run, with the discretion of the race director. If 101 laps aren’t completed, the race will be restarted the day after, or the next available time, weather permitting.

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About author
Born and raised in the suburbs of Indianapolis, Gabe joined the TCF team in 2023 to cover the IndyCar Series. He currently studies Broadcast and Digital Journalism at Syracuse University. You can follow him on Twitter @gabe_perrin.
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