At last year’s Indy 500, as drivers struggled to find their mojo without fans, Scott Dixon led the race for 111 laps before losing steam. Nearing the finish, the New Zealander was overtaken by Japan’s Takuma Sato, who went on to bag his second win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Even in victory, Sato acknowledged it had been tricky to fend off his rival. “Scott was coming right through out of turn four,” he said. “He was screaming coming, and I just held on.”
And so the Chip Ganassi driver was a bridesmaid again in 2020—his third time as a runner-up at Indy. But 2021 just might be his year. At 40 years old, Dixon will be the gray eminence of the 105th running, second only to 46-year-old Tony Kanaan.
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Driver For A Generation
As John Reger notes in his column, 5 Bets to Make This Week, Dixon is the best driver of his generation—good enough to win the pole against kids half his age. And good enough by far to take the trophy this Sunday.
According to U.S. News & World Report, the first three rows in this year’s race account for six Indy 500 wins and eight series championships among four drivers—proof that experience matters. So a win this year would let Dixon “slam the brakes on the youth movement.”
Not the Diaper Derby
And now for the “but.” First, with an average four-lap speed of 231.685 mph, the favorite took the pole by a sliver, 0.03 mph, to edge 21-year-old U.S. driver Colton Herta, of Andretti Autosport.
Then, right behind Herta was Rinus VeeKay of the Netherlands at 231.511 mph for the final spot on the front row. At a whippersnapping 20 years old, the Ed Carpenter driver is the youngest-ever front-row starter. As Kanaan observed of VeeKay, “It’s very weird that the guy starting ahead of me was wearing diapers when I started my first Indy 500.”
Clearly, these upstarts are out to unseat the veterans. For instance, as Herta proclaims in a statement on his website, “I’m excited to be back driving the Gainbridge-backed No. 26 car. … I’m anxious to continue my chase for the championship.”
When it comes to VeeKay, after qualifying he said, “These four laps were the best I’ve ever driven. I’m extremely happy to have hauled the No. 21 Bitcoin Chevrolet onto the front row of the grid. … Now, of course, I want to go for the milk, and the Borg Warner Trophy!”
Adding extra excitement, the roar of the crowd will cheer drivers through the 500-mile, 200-lap marathon; this year, the 33-car field will compete in front of more than 135,000 fans in the 230,000-seat stands. In conclusion, we’re looking at a tense, boys-to-men battle. This time, may the greatest generation win.
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How to Watch
What: The 105th running of the Indianapolis 500
When: Sunday, May 30
Where: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Watch: The prerace show begins at 9 a.m. ET on NBC Sports, with the race to follow from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sirius XM and IndyCar Radio. The post-race show will be broadcast on NBC Sports from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Indy 500 Starting Lineup & Latest Odds
- Scott Dixon, 231.685 mph, +350
- Colton Herta, 231.655 mph, +700
- Rinus VeeKay, 231.511 mph, +1800
- Ed Carpenter, 231.504 mph, +2500
- Tony Kanaan, 231.032 mph, +1400
- Alex Palou, 230.616 mph, +1200
- Ryan Hunter-Reay, 230.499 mph, +2000
- Helio Castroneves, 230.355 mph, +3000
- Marcus Ericsson, 230.318 mph, +2000
- Alexander Rossi, 231.046 mph, +1200
- Ed Jones, 231.044 mph, +6600
- Pato O’Ward, 230.864 mph, +850
- Pietro Fittipaldi, 230.846 mph, +15000
- Felix Rosenqvist, 230.744 mph, +5000
- Takuma Sato, 230.708 mph, +1800
- James Hinchcliffe, 230.563 mph, +5000
- Scott McLaughlin, 230.557 mph, +3000
- Graham Rahal, 230.521 mph, +1800
- Conor Daly, 230.427 mph, +5000
- Jack Harvey, 230.191 mph, +6600
- Josef Newgarden, 230.071 mph, +1200
- R. Hildebrand, 229.980 mph, +15000
- Santino Ferrucci, 229.949 mph, +5000
- Juan Pablo Montoya, 229.891 mph, +3000
- Marco Andretti, 229.872 mph, +5000
- Simon Pagenaud, 229.778 mph, +2000
- Sebastien Bourdais, 229.744 mph, +10000
- Stefan Wilson, 229.714 mph, +12000
- Max Chilton, 229.417 mph, +50000
- Dalton Kellett, 228.323 mph, +50000
- Sage Karam, 229.156 mph, +10000
- Will Power, 228.876 mph, +2500
- Simona de Silvestro, 228.353, +50000