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Indy 500 Qualifying 2021: Weekend Race Schedule, TV Coverage and Live Stream

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMay 22, 2021

Scott Dixon, of New Zealand, leaves the pits during practice for the Indianapolis 500 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Friday, May 21, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Darron Cummings/Associated Press

The starting grid for the 2021 Indianapolis 500 will be set on Saturday and Sunday. 

Thirty-five drivers will be fighting for 33 spots spread across 11 rows on the grid, starting with Saturday's session at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

On Saturday, the middle portion of the grid will be locked in, and then on Sunday, the first three rows and the final three positions will be settled. 

Six-time IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon will be the first driver on the track on Saturday. He drew the first qualifying position and turned in the fastest practice time on Friday.

         

Indy 500 Qualifying Information

Dates: Saturday, May 22 and Sunday, May 23

Times: Saturday (Noon-5:50 p.m. ET); Sunday (Last Chance qualifying, 1:15-2:30 p.m. ET; Fast Nine, 3-3:45 p.m. ET)

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TV: NBC (Saturday 2-3 p.m. ET, Sunday 3-3:45 p.m. ET); NBCSN (Saturday, 3-6 p.m. ET, Sunday, 1:15-2:30 p.m,. ET)

Live Stream: Peacock Premium for all hours, NBC Sports app and NBCSports.com for TV windows.

       

Preview

Some of the Indy 500 favorites will be on the track first on Saturday. 

Dixon, Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Helio Castroneves drew the first four qualifying spots. Andretti claimed pole in 2020. 

The goal for everyone in the field is to make it into the "Fast Nine" on Sunday, where the first three rows will be determined.

Dixon and others will have clean air to run in, which was not the case on Friday during a practice session that ended up as a bit frustrating to some, as Dixon outlined to NBCSports.com's Nate Ryan.

"Obviously, it was really tough out there today; just really tough to get a clear track," Dixon said. "You had some guys doing some pretty silly stuff out there. Teams should have been held responsible for some of those runs as well. I know it's difficult. I know everybody wants to try to get a run. Some of those closing speeds when you have people doing cooldown laps at 150 mph, you're coming in at 240, gets pretty hairy." 

Despite the issues with other cars on the track, Dixon posted the only Friday practice speed above 233 miles per hour. 

That bodes well for Dixon's chances of earning the pole since he will have a fresh track to work with at the start of Saturday's qualifying session. 

Colton Herta, Tony Kanaan, Marcus Ericsson and Alex Palou rounded out the top five fastest cars on Friday. Kanaan was the only one of the four to draw a top-10 starting spot in qualifying. 

If the practice session is a sign of things to come, Honda machines should dominate the "Fast Nine" spots, as the top six cars and nine of the top 10 speeds came from Hondas. Pato O'Ward had the only Chevrolet inside the top 10 practice speeds. 

Conversely, the nine slowest cars in practice were Chevrolet machines. If that trend extends into Saturday, we could see Chevrolet drivers fighting it out on Sunday to make it on to the last row. 

Once the starting grid is set on Sunday, the drivers will have to wait until Friday's practice session to fine-tune things before the race takes place on May 30 at 12:45 p.m. ET on NBC. 

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