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Indy 500 Lineup 2021: Starting Grid and Breakdown of Sunday's Thrilling Event

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IMay 27, 2021

Scott Dixon, of New Zealand, waves to fans after winning the pole for the Indianapolis 500 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Sunday, May 23, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Darron Cummings/Associated Press

No starting position has produced more Indianapolis 500 winners than the No. 1 spot. There have been 21 drivers who have raced to victory from the pole in the IndyCar Series' marquee event, with Simon Pagenaud (2019) being the most recent.

Another driver who started first and went on to win was Scott Dixon, who raced to victory from pole in 2008. That's what the 40-year-old will be looking to do again this Sunday, as he'll lead the 33-car field to the green flag for the 2021 Indy 500.

This is the fourth time that Dixon is starting on the pole for the Indianapolis 500, but he hasn't had as much success since earning his only career win in the race 13 years ago. He's come close to getting back to victory lane, though, as he started and finished second last year, when he led a race-high 111 laps but ended up behind Takuma Sato.

As this year's Indianapolis 500 nears, here's a look at the starting grid for the upcoming race.

    

Indianapolis 500 Starting Grid

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Row 1: Scott Dixon, Colton Herta, Rinus VeeKay

Row 2: Ed Carpenter, Tony Kanaan, Alex Palou

Row 3: Ryan Hunter-Reay, Helio Castroneves, Marcus Ericsson

Row 4: Alexander Rossi, Ed Jones, Pato O'Ward

Row 5: Pietro Fittipaldi, Felix Rosenqvist, Takuma Sato

Row 6: James Hinchcliffe, Scott McLaughlin, Graham Rahal

Row 7: Conor Daly, Jack Harvey, Josef Newgarden

Row 8: JR Hildebrand, Santino Ferrucci, Juan Pablo Montoya

Row 9: Marco Andretti, Simon Pagenaud, Sebastien Bourdais

Row 10: Stefan Wilson, Max Chilton, Dalton Kellett

Row 11: Sage Karam, Will Power, Simona De Silvestro

     

Breakdown

Scott Dixon impressed during qualifying for this year's Indianapolis 500, as he was fastest in both the initial qualifying session and the Fast Nine Shootout, which featured the top nine qualifiers battling for the pole. In the latter session, Dixon had an average speed of 231.685 mph over his four laps.

With a fast car and recent Indy success, could this finally be the year Dixon returns to Victory Lane?

"I truly see it as just another race. I think if you treat it any differently then it becomes a bit weird," Dixon said, per Jenna Fryer of the Associated Press. "The problem with the 500 is there are so many emotions. It's just an emotional rollercoaster through the whole event."

If Dixon is going to earn his second career Indianapolis 500 win, he'll have to hold off some talented drivers. And that includes a pair of youngsters starting beside him on the front row.

Colton Herta is competing in his third career Indy 500, and his No. 2 starting spot is the best he's had yet. Last year, he had a solid showing, starting in 10th and ending up eighth, and now the 21-year-old is looking to notch the biggest win of his young career on Sunday.

Although Herta already has four wins over his first three full-time IndyCar Series seasons, an Indianapolis 500 victory would be in a class of its own.

"I just can't wait for next Sunday. We've got a good race car," Herta said, per ESPN.com. "Second place is not too bad of a place to start."

Herta may not have a ton of experience, but he has more than 20-year-old Rinus VeeKay, who will be starting third in his second Indianapolis 500 start. Last year, VeeKay started fourth, but he couldn't stay near the front of the field, as he finished 20th.

VeeKay notched his first career IndyCar Series win on May 15, when he raced to victory at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. So after having success on the track's road course, he'll look to carry that over to the oval at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Another driver to watch near the front of the field will be Tony Kanaan, who is starting fifth and looking to win the Indy 500 for the second time. His lone victory in the race came in 2013, and the 46-year-old is no longer driving a full-time IndyCar Series schedule, so he may not have many more opportunities to win in his career.

Helio Castroneves is starting eighth on Sunday and could potentially join A.J. Foyt, Al Unser Sr. and Rick Mears as the only drivers to win the Indy 500 four times. However, Castroneves hasn't won the race since 2009.

Takuma Sato, who is starting 15th, is a two-time Indianapolis 500 winner, having won the race in 2017 and 2020. Another two-time winner in the field is Juan Pablo Montoya, who won in 2000 and 2015. Montoya is starting 24th in Sunday's race, which will mark his first Indy 500 appearance since 2017.

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