Indy 500: Iconic motorsport race underway after extreme weather delays (2024)

(CNN) — The Indy 500, one of the most prestigious and highly-anticipated events of the motorsport calendar, began four hours late on Sunday afternoon after extreme weather caused organizers to pause pre-race festivities, evacuate fans from the grandstands and wait for rain to pass and the track to be dried.

The race was initially scheduled to begin at 12:45 p.m. ET, but race organizers announced the start was delayed “given the proximity of lightning.” After the rain stopped and track drying efforts were completed, the race finally got underway about 4:45 p.m.

This is the 108th edition of the Indy 500, known as “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Part of the IndyCar Series, a talented field of 33 drivers will navigate 200 laps and 500 miles around the oval at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the ultimate test of speed and stamina.

For the drivers, it’s the big one. The chance to write your name in the history books, the opportunity to participate in iconic traditions – kissing the bricks at the start/finish line and celebrating with a bottle of milk after winning the race.

“It is the biggest sporting event in the world, right?” British driver Katherine Legge told CNN Sport’s Don Riddell ahead of last year’s race. “The whole place just has this feeling about it, this personality that it takes on and when it’s full of fans, it’s just the most incredible feeling, like it has a pulse almost.”

The speedway – known as “the Brickyard” due to the fact that the track was originally paved with bricks rather than asphalt – has a unique aura.

“Indianapolis is about the energy,” said 2023 winner Josef Newgarden told NBC. “You talk to anybody that’s been to the Indy 500 or knows what it’s like – it’s an energy that’s not replicated anywhere else in the world.”

How to watch

The Indy 500 is being broadcast live on NBC and streaming service Peaco*ck.

International viewers will also be able to keep up with the action, and a full list of broadcasters is available here. Those seeking to watch the race in countries without access to IndyCar broadcasting contracts have the option to follow along on INDYCAR LIVE – the series’ subscription streaming service.

The race is typically not broadcast in Central Indiana due to a television blackout that aims to encourage residents to buy tickets and head to the track. However, the blackout was lifted Sunday afternoon due to the storm, according to a post on X from track officials.

The Indy 500 regularly shares a date with the famous Monaco Grand Prix, known as the “crown jewel” of the Formula One calendar. Earlier Sunday, hometown hero Charles Leclerc won the race around the streets of Monte Carlo for the first time.

A front row sweep

For only the second time in the history of the race, one team has locked out the entire front row.

Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin took pole position for the race, setting the fastest four-lap average pole speed in the storied history of the Indy 500 at 234.220 mph.

Australian driver and 2018 ‘500 winner Will Power followed with an average of 233.917 mph while two-time IndyCar champion Newgarden qualified third as Team Penske’s drivers completed a front row sweep.

Team Penske was also the first team to achieve this feat, doing so in 1988, and holds the record for most Indy 500 poles with 19. The team is owned and chaired by Robert Penske, who also owns the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the IndyCar series itself.

It was McLaughlin’s first ‘500 pole, having achieved a best qualifying position of 14th last year.

“Welcome to the party,” said the New Zealander, per the race’s official site. “The Pennzoil Chevy was unreal. There’s so much pride in being able to do it. I’m working hard. Indy hasn’t been kind to me, and a lot of it was my doing. I need to work on things. This is the first step. The Thirsty 3’s, baby, we’re coming.”

Chevrolet-powered drivers qualified in the top eight positions in the 33-car field.

Newgarden is aiming to become only the sixth driver to win back-to-back races in Indianapolis and the first since Hélio Castroneves (who qualified 20th for this year’s race) in 2002.

500 + 600

NASCAR Cup points leader Kyle Larson is attempting to drive the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 in the same day. Despite the rain delay, Larson was still at the track in Indianapolis as the race began so he will be unable to run every lap at the NASCAR race.

The American is making his IndyCar race debut this weekend. Entered as an Arrow McLaren driver, he qualified an impressive fifth and has a shot at winning the ‘500 as a rookie.

After driving in the Indy 500, Larson will head to the Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina in an attempt to finish two major motorsport races in the same day, though he will have to take over from another driver who will take his place for the start of the 600. The green flag for the NASCAR race is scheduled for 6 p.m. ET.

Larson, the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion, was attempting to become the fifth driver to start both races. John Andretti was the first to accomplish this in 1994, with Robby Gordon and Tony Stewart subsequently taking on the Double on five and two occasions respectively. It was most recently attempted by Kurt Busch in 2014.

“The Double” is regarded as one of the toughest challenges in motorsport due to the mental and physical toll of driving 1,100 miles in a single day, navigating the differences between open-wheel and stock cars and the exhausting travel schedule.

“I don’t want to be just referenced as the greatest NASCAR driver of all time or the greatest sprint car driver of all time, I want to be known as somebody who could climb into all different types of cars and be great at what they do,” Larson said in 2021, per NASCAR.

Defying Father Time

One of only four drivers to win the Indy 500 four times, Castroneves is seeking history on Sunday when he lines up at the Brickyard for the 24th time.

A win on Sunday for the Brazilian would see him stand alone as the only person to win the race on five occasions – though it will be a tall task starting from the seventh row.

At 49 years old, Castroneves is aiming to become the oldest ‘500 winner ever and does not plan to hit the brakes any time soon.

“(Racing at 50) was always my goal, but I don’t want to just ‘do it’,” he told Indy Star. “I feel like we’re still very competitive, and not only just to win, but to make people go crazy here, and that’s what I want to do.

“Right now, I want to keep it going, because that’s what I know best. I’m sure this will change, but I don’t think it’s going to be in the near future.”


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Indy 500: Iconic motorsport race underway after extreme weather delays (2024)


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