Scott Dixon dominated the qualifying sessions for the 2021 Indianapolis 500. His No. 9 Honda was the fastest car during initial qualifying, then he again posted the best four-lap average speed during the Fast Nine Shootout, as the top nine qualifiers battled it out for the pole position.
Because of that, Dixon will lead the 33-car field to the green flag at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, as he'll be looking to win the marquee race for the second time. His lone Indy 500 victory came back in 2008, which was the first time he started on the pole for the race.
As Dixon looks to race to an Indianapolis 500 victory, he'll have to hold off some strong challengers in the rest of the field. But it helps to have a strong starting position, as the past four Indy 500s have been won by a driver who started fourth or better.
Here's a look at the full starting lineup for this year's Indy 500, along with qualifying speeds.
Indy 500 Starting Lineup, Qualifying Speeds
Row 1: Scott Dixon (231.685 mph), Colton Herta (231.655), Rinus VeeKay (231.511)
Row 2: Ed Carpenter (231.504), Tony Kanaan (231.032), Alex Palou (230.616)
Row 3: Ryan Hunter-Reay (230.499), Helio Castroneves (230.355), Marcus Ericsson (230.318)
Row 4: Alexander Rossi (231.046), Ed Jones (231.044), Pato O'Ward (230.864)
Row 5: Pietro Fittipaldi (230.846), Felix Rosenqvist (230.744), Takuma Sato (230.708)
Row 6: James Hinchcliffe (230.563), Scott McLaughlin (230.557), Graham Rahal (230.521)
Row 7: Conor Daly (230.427), Jack Harvey (230.191), Josef Newgarden (230.071)
Row 8: JR Hildebrand (229.980), Santino Ferrucci (229.949), Juan Pablo Montoya (229.891)
Row 9: Marco Andretti (229.872), Simon Pagenaud (229.778), Sebastien Bourdais (229.744)
Row 10: Stefan Wilson (229.714), Max Chilton (229.417), Dalton Kellett (228.323)
Row 11: Sage Karam (229.156), Will Power (228.876), Simona De Silvestro (228.353)
Dixon's average speed of 231.685 mph during the Fast Nine Shootout marked the fifth-fastest qualifying time in the history of the Indianapolis 500. It wasn't a personal record for the 40-year-old, though, as he had an average speed of 232.164 mph when he earned the pole in 2017.
But Dixon will be hoping to have better results in the race than he did in 2017, when he ended up 32nd, his worst career Indy 500 finish. He's performed better in recent years, though, as he finished third in 2018 and second last year.
Now, Dixon will look to keep his fast car at the front of the field all day Sunday. And maybe he'll finally end up back in Victory Lane 13 years after his first Indy 500 win.
"I didn't expect the speed that we had on the first day," Dixon said after qualifying, per Matt Weaver of Autoweek. "It's been a little while since I had a pole, so it's nice to get it here."
This will be Dixon's 19th time racing the Indianapolis 500. The two drivers starting alongside him on the front row have much less experience.
Herta (21 years old) is making his third appearance at the Indy 500, and he's started in the top 10 in all of them. However, he finished 33rd in his debut in the race in 2019. He produced a better result in 2020, when he ended up eighth.
VeeKay (20 years old) will be competing in his second Indianapolis 500. He made his debut last year, when he started fourth and finished 20th. But this year, he's coming off his first career IndyCar Series victory, as he won the Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the road course at the track on May 15.
"I'm not surprised that our age group is winning," Herta said, per Jenna Fryer of the Associated Press. "I think we grew up with a very talented age group. We had a lot of young, rising stars that we raced against when we were younger that have made it to professional motorsports. I wouldn't be surprised if one of us won the Indy 500."
Don't count out the old guard, such as Dixon and others, though. There are plenty of experienced drivers in this year's field who know what it takes to win this illustrious race.
Kanaan is starting fifth and is looking to earn his second Indy 500 win (and his first since 2013). He's now racing a part-time IndyCar Series schedule, but he could still find a way to be near the front of the field near the end of the race.
Castroneves is a three-time Indy 500 champion and will be starting eighth. If he can get to Victory Lane in the race for the first time since 2009, he'd join A.J. Foyt, Al Unser Sr. and Rick Mears as the only drivers to win the Indianapolis 500 four times.
Montoya may be starting 24th, but he's contended for the win nearly every time he's shown up for the Indy 500. He's only competed in the race five times, yet he's won it twice (2000 and 2015) and finished in the top six four times. This will be his first Indianapolis 500 appearance since 2017.
Although it's clear who should be among the top Indy 500 contenders by looking at the qualifying speeds, things can quickly change once the race arrives. So it's impossible to know for sure which driver will be first to the checkered flag on Sunday.