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Indy 500: When it starts, how to watch, betting odds for 'The Greatest Spectacle in Racing'

Kyffin Simpson (4) passes Kyle Larson (17) as he drives into the second turn during the final practice for the Indianapolis 500 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Friday, May 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

The 108th running of the Indianapolis 500 takes place Sunday, when a field of 33 cars will thunder across the famed yard of bricks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, though rain is in the forecast for “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

Scott McLaughlin of Team Penske will be on the pole after breaking the four-lap qualifying record with an average of 234.220 mph. Next to him are teammates Will Power and defending winner Josef Newgarden, whose last-lap pass of Marcus Ericsson during a controversial finish a year ago gave team owner Roger Penske his record-extending 19th win.

Team Penske arrived at Gasoline Alley this year under scrutiny, though. The team owner suspended two senior leaders and two engineers as punishment for a cheating scandal centered on Newgarden’s illegal use of his push-to-pass system in his March 10 win in St. Petersburg, Florida. IndyCar stripped Newgarden of the win and McLaughlin of a third-place finish.

Beyond the controversy, storylines abound: How will Larson, who qualified fifth, fare in his Indy 500 debut , and will he be able to complete “The Double” by also finishing the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte the same night? Will Alex Palou finally be able to win the Indy 500 after coming close the past three years? Can Helio Castroneves win a record fifth Indy 500?

WHEN IS THE INDY 500?

The green flag falls for the Indy 500 at 12:45 p.m. EDT on Sunday. The forecast calls for rain much of the day, but there could be a window to get at least 101 of the 200 laps completed. That would make the race official. It takes roughly 90 minutes to dry the track if it becomes wet. If the race cannot be finished Sunday, it would be pushed to Monday.

HOW WILL THEY LINE UP?

The final car on the track among six in the pole shootout, McLaughlin ripped around the old speedway to post a four-lap average of 234.220 mph last Sunday. Power and Newgarden joined him in giving Team Penske its first front-row sweep since 1988, when polesitter and eventual race winner Rick Mears was joined by Danny Sullivan and Al Unser Sr.

Larson will start in the middle of the second row with Arrow McLaren teammate Alexander Rossi inside and Santino Ferrucci of A.J. Foyt Racing to his outside, giving Chevrolet-powered cars the first two rows on the starting grid.

The teams with Honda power were fast on Carb Day, the final practice before the race. Scott Dixon had the fastest single lap on Friday for Chip Ganassi Racing, just ahead of Castroneves, while Colton Herta was also fast in his Andretti Global entry.

HOW CAN I WATCH THE INDY 500?

Race coverage begins Sunday at 11 a.m. with pre-race festivities on NBC, Peacock and Universo.

WHO SHOULD I WATCH IN THE INDY 500?

There will be plenty of eyes on Larson, the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion, who is trying to join Tony Stewart as the only drivers ever to complete “the double,” finishing every lap of the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 the same day. Several have tried over the years, most recently Kurt Busch a decade ago. If rain should cause a delay in Indianapolis, it remains unclear whether Larson would stay — and potentially miss the Cup Series race — or abandon the Indy 500 and leave for Charlotte.

Newgarden and 2018 winner Power will be trying to give team owner Roger Penske his 20th victory at the track he now owns, along with the IndyCar Series itself. Their teammate, McLaughlin, would love just as much to win for the first time.

Castroneves can break a tie with Foyt, Unser and Mears for the most wins with his fifth. Palou is chasing his first win. So are Marco Andretti and Graham Rahal, who survived a tense bump day and qualified last in the 33-car field.

WHO ARE THE INDY 500 FAVORITES?

McLaughlin was installed as the 9-2 favorite Monday after qualifying on the pole, according to BetMGM Sportsbook . Newgarden was the second choice at 11-2, followed by Power (13-2), Larson (27-4) and Pato O'Ward (19-2).

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AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing

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