What you need to know for tomorrow’s 105th Indianapolis 500
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IndyCar – 105th Indianapolis 500
Sunday, May 30 – 12:30 p.m. ET – NBC – Streaming on the NBC Sports app
Pre-race coverage begins at 11:00 a.m.ET on NBC
The 105th Indianapolis 500, 110 years after the first, promises to be a classic. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has often produced the best IndyCar race since the series switched to its current specification base chassis in 2012, and changes made after a test session in April should make overtaking easier than the relatively tame affair from last year. The race is also expected to be improved by weather conditions, as the race is back to its traditional May date after last year’s race, altered by a pandemic, in late summer.
The estate, however, is the highlight. The 2021 Indianapolis 500 is the most important race in the IndyCar series, a category that has seen some sort of talent renaissance in its past three seasons. This huge influx of young and old talent has led to an area with a clear narrative divide between veteran drivers with championship-level resumes and young talent ready to turn racing wins into greater achievements. No driver personifies this better than the two while ahead of the peloton for tomorrow’s race.
On pole, Scott Dixon is IndyCar’s gift. Last season marked his incredible sixth career series championship, while his 51 career wins make him the third all-time in the long history of American open wheel racing. However, his four career Indianapolis 500 poles resulted in just one victory in 18 attempts, and he spent the 2010s finding new ways to be disappointed with his races in the biggest racing spectacle. Last year he finished second after a sensational late charge from Takuma Sato, but he still had time and speed to come back to Sato; a warning flew, however, and the race ended under the yellow.
Dixon’s pace and experience clearly make him the favorite, but next in line is Colton Herta. The third-year IndyCar driver has had a meteoric rise to serial stardom, and a third place finish at last year’s championship makes him think 2021 may be the year he wins his first series championship. First, however, comes his first big shot at winning Indianapolis. Herta has spent the month talking about how much he enjoys driving a car on the edge of razor control, but his most impressive performance of the month came when he showed incredible patience to preserve his tires and assemble them. third and fourth fastest laps one of him. a qualifying round in the nine-pole shootout last weekend.
At 21, Herta represents a much younger movement within IndyCar than Dixon. However, the two share a key trait: calm. Both aren’t afraid of aggression, but both have shown an uncanny ability to refocus in times of chaos rare among racing drivers. Fittingly, Herta told reporters earlier this weekend that her plan to get ready for Sunday’s race was simply to quietly and peacefully scroll through her phone for a bit before the pre-race ceremonies started.
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Behind them, the favorites on the field are largely the other Honda riders. Dixon’s Chip Ganassi Racing and Herta’s Andretti Autosport teams use Honda’s power, and their car loadouts (four four CGRs, six for Andretti) are expected to be quick on Sunday. Chevrolet, however, is not without its own contenders.
Simon Pagenaud, 2019 race winner and former series champion for Penske Racing, has been named by many as a driver who should be in a much better position on race day than he was in qualifying. Penske Racing had a disastrous qualifying session, but its four cars made 33 places, and the impressive race pace of Pagenaud and his teammates gives the group the confidence that a victory is still on the line on Sunday.
Two other Chevrolet programs, Ed Carpenter Racing and Arrow McLaren SP, have a much more obvious reason for optimism. ECR’s Rinus VeeKay is the final race winner of the series, and his stellar qualifying performance got him to start third, last on the front row. He and AMSP star Patricio ‘Pato’ O’Ward were the two fastest Chevrolets for most of last year’s race, and impressive performances in race finishing practices have both been optimistic that ‘they can go from IndyCar winner to Indianapolis winner. O’Ward’s No.5 was among the fastest Chevrolets in race finishing practice, while ECR’s third car, Conor Daly’s No.47, boasted a much more impressive speed in the race finish. race than in qualifying.
But some of the best stories are more distant on the pitch. JR Hildebrand, the first qualifier of a four-car entry AJ Foyt Racing (three raced), drove 1,100 miles on the track in his 1960 Cadillac. Stefan Wilson, driving Andretti Autosport, found a way to return to Indianapolis after two consecutive years without being able to find an opportunity to participate in the race. This time before last year’s race he spoke with Road and track on what it meant to fight all year round to make this race and miss the opportunity; now he will drive for a team that has won this race five times. And Simona de Silvestro’s new Paretta Autosport team, the last car to race in qualifying, makes history as the very first female-owned team to race in the event, a story that goes much further. away than the owner. and the driver.
You can find the full 33-car starting grid here. Each entry represents a career development at a time like this, a chance to win the highest honor in one race in American auto racing, arguably the highest in the world.
The race begins at 12:30 p.m. ET tomorrow afternoon and can be captured on NBC. A small but exhausted crowd of 135,000 will be in person for what promises to be a day of racing to remember.
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