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IndyCar Indianapolis 500

2024 Indy 500 weather forecast: will it rain on Sunday?

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway will host round five of the 2024 IndyCar season with its world-famous Indianapolis 500.

Excitement is at an all-time high with the build-up to the Indy 500 well underway - but the weather is not looking so kind. 
Rain is forecasted for race day, which could severely impact proceedings as the Indy 500 does not run in the wet, due to the threat of aquaplaning around the brickyard’s banked oval. 
So does this mean the 108th edition of what’s dubbed as ‘the greatest spectacle in racing’ could be postponed? Here is all to know about this year’s event. 

When is the Indy 500?

  • Scheduled date: Sunday 26 May
  • Scheduled start time: 5:45pm BST/12:45pm local time
The Indy 500 is scheduled to start on Sunday 26 May at 5:45pm in the United Kingdom and 12:45pm local time in the American state of Indiana. It takes approximately three hours to complete, as drivers tackle 200 laps of the prestigious four-turn, 2.5-mile speedway.
But weeks of preparation have gone into the Indy 500, as practice began on Tuesday 14 May with qualifying taking place that weekend on the 18th and 19th. This was part of the Month of May tradition, which refers to the weeks leading up to race day when the track opens up and the city celebrates its blue-riband event with things like the 500 Festival Parade.

What is the weather forecast for the Indy 500 in 2024?

There is approximately an 80-90% chance of rain in Indianapolis on Sunday, while thunderstorms are also forecasted with wind gusts of up to 18mph.
Dario Franchitti

Dario Franchitti

Photo by: IndyCar Series

The rain and thunderstorms are expected to occur all day, which has caused concern that the race might not go ahead as planned - despite projected temperatures of up to 25C.
This is because the Indy 500 uses Firestone’s slick tyres, which are not suitable for wet conditions. And if they were to race in the rain, that would cascade water onto trailing cars making racing around the tight oval even more dangerous. 
But IndyCar will not make any announcement until Sunday, as it will do all it can to run the race as planned with the speedway taking around 80 minutes to dry.

Has the Indy 500 ever been postponed because of rain?

There have been three complete postponements of the Indy 500 since its debut in 1911 due to bad weather.
The first time it happened was in 1915, when Indianapolis was hit by rainstorms in the days leading up to the race. This caused flooding at the speedway and made some of its surrounding roads impossible to drive on. 
It was therefore moved to Monday 31 May - two days after its original date, because back then track policy stopped the Indy 500 from running on a Sunday. The race was eventually won by Ralph DePalma from second in his Mercedes. 
The Indy 500 then went 71 years without a complete postponement, until on-and-off rain periods prevented the 1986 edition from running on Sunday 25 May. It was therefore scheduled for the following day, but rain continued - causing the circuit’s infield to be practically a sea of mud with many spectators having already departed.
Cars are covered during red flag

Cars are covered during red flag

This postponed the race again, so workers had a week to clean everything up before race day on Saturday 31 May. Fortunately, the 31 May was dry and sunny as Bobby Rahal won by just 1.441s ahead of Kevin Cogan.
Another complete postponement happened 11 years later, when the 1997 Indy 500 was scheduled for Sunday 25 May. Although rain fell that morning, it appeared to be passing so cars were taken to the grid at 11:45am until the skies opened up again just 15 minutes later. 
This postponed running until the following day. It then got underway as planned, but the rain turned heavy after 15 laps causing another postponement. The race was eventually completed on Tuesday 27 May, with Arie Luyendyk claiming his second Indy 500 victory.
The 1997 Indy 500 is not the only edition to have received a partial postponement though, as in 1967 drivers completed 18 laps before finishing the race the next day (Wednesday 31 May) because of rain. 
In 1973, meanwhile, the Indy 500 started after a four-hour delay. But on the opening lap, a traffic jam caused Salt Walther to suddenly move to his right and collide with Jerry Grant, which catapulted his car into the catch fence - all drivers were fortunately unharmed.
It caused a red flag, during which time rain fell meaning a restart was not possible. So, running carried into the following day (Tuesday 29 May) but rain appeared again on the second parade lap, meaning the race was not completed until the Wednesday.
But after 129 laps, rain began to fall before getting much heavier. So, the race was run to a shortened distance where Gordon Johncock was victorious after 332.5 miles and not the traditional 500. 
The 1973 race is one of seven Indy 500s to have been run to a shortened distance due to heavy rain:
  • 1926 Indy 500: 160 laps (400 miles)
  • 1950 Indy 500: 138 laps (345 miles)
  • 1973 Indy 500: 133 laps (332.5 miles)
  • 1975 Indy 500: 174 laps (435 miles)
  • 1976 Indy 500: 102 laps (255 miles)
  • 2004 Indy 500: 180 laps (450 miles)
  • 2007 Indy 500: 166 laps (415 miles)

Who is the defending Indy 500 champion?

Josef Newgarden is the defending Indy 500 champion after overtaking 2022 winner Marcus Ericsson during a controversial end to the race. 
Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet

Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

Lap 198 witnessed a third red flag of the day after a multi-car collision towards the back, just as Ericsson overtook Newgarden for the lead with four tours remaining. This left time for just a single-lap, green-white-chequered flag finish which allowed Newgarden to retake the lead and win the event. 
Ericsson criticised the ending, as he thought the race shouldn’t have been restarted without a full warmup lap. 
“It was an unfair and dangerous end to the race,” he said. But Newgarden was obviously “happy they did it to give a good finish”.

Indy 500 starting grid 2024

Qualifying for the Indy 500 is a spectacle like no other, as it’s split across two days beginning with full-field qualifying. This is when each car is given a four-lap run to set an average speed and determine spots 13 to 30 on the starting grid.
So, the pole shootout and the battle for the final three grid spots all take place on day two. Scott McLaughlin claimed pole for the 2024 Indy 500, pipping Penske team-mates Will Power and Newgarden who set their laps before the New Zealander.
In Last Chance Qualifying, there was big concern that Ericsson would miss the cut after a miscount caused him to back off at the end of lap three during his four-tour run. So, the Andretti driver ran again and claimed second for the session - 32nd on the grid - in a last-gasp effort.
This bumped Nolan Siegel into the elimination zone, who spun in the closing moments thus ending his hopes of qualifying for the Indy 500.
Position
Driver
Team
Time
Mph
1
Scott McLaughlin
2m33.7017s
234.220
2
Will Power
Team Penske
+0.1990s
233.917
3
Josef Newgarden
Team Penske
+0.2709s
233.808
4
Arrow McLaren
+0.7452s
233.090
5
Arrow McLaren/Rick Hendrick
+0.9066s
232.846
6
+1.0093s
232.692
7
Rinus van Kalmthout
+1.0640s
232.610
8
Pato O’Ward
Arrow McLaren
+1.0812s
232.584
9
+1.2669s
232.305
10
+1.3561s
232.171
11
Andretti Global
+2.1473s
230.993
12
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing/Cusick Motorsports
+2.4350s
230.567
13
Andretti Global with Curb-Agajanian
+1.2599s
232.316
14
+1.2665s
232.306
15
Arrow McLaren
+1.3167s
232.230
16
Chip Ganassi Racing
+1.3487s
232.183
17
Ed Carpenter
Ed Carpenter Racing
+1.4591s
232.017
18
Chip Ganassi Racing
+1.5052s
231.948
19
Andretti Herta Autosport with Marco and Curb-Agajanian
+1.5441s
231.890
20
Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian
+1.5570s
231.871
21
Chip Ganassi Racing
+1.5706s
231.851
22
+1.5733s
231.847
23
A.J. Foyt Enterprises
+1.5871s
231.826
24
Ed Carpenter Racing
+1.6835s
231.682
25
Meyer Shank Racing
+1.7537s
231.578
26
Juncos Hollinger Racing
+1.7965s
231.514
27
Chip Ganassi Racing
+1.8017s
231.506
28
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
+1.8291s
231.465
29
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing/Cusick Motorsports
+1.9786s
231.243
30
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
+2.0751s
231.100
31
+2.7573s
230.092
32
Marcus Ericsson
Andretti Global
+2.8020s
230.027
33
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
+2.8379s
229.974

Indy 500 milk choices in 2024 

The Indy 500 winner drinking milk post-race is the most famous tradition of the iconic event. It began in 1936 when Louis Meyer celebrated his victory by drinking buttermilk because he’d allegedly been taught about its refreshing qualities.
As a result, a marketing man in the dairy industry inquired about the Indy 500 winner drinking milk from there on. Although it took 20 years for the notion to stick, the tradition has become so big that before each Indy 500 the drivers are asked for their milk of choice should they emerge victorious. 
Indy 500 drivers are given three choices of milk: whole, two-percent or fat-free. For the 2024 Indy 500, 26 drivers have chosen whole milk with five opting for two percent and only two going for fat-free. 
Starting position
Driver
Milk choice
1
Scott McLaughlin
Whole
2
Will Power
Whole
3
Josef Newgarden
Whole
4
Alexander Rossi
Whole
5
Kyle Larson
Whole
6
Santino Ferrucci
Whole
7
Rinus van Kalmthout
Whole
8
Pato O’Ward
Two-percent
9
Felix Rosenqvist
Whole
10
Takuma Sato
Two-percent
11
Kyle Kirkwood
Whole
12
Ryan Hunter-Reay
Whole
13
Colton Herta
Whole
14
Alex Palou
Whole
15
Callum Ilott
Whole
16
Marcus Armstrong
Whole
17
Ed Carpenter
Whole
18
Kyffin Simpson
Whole
19
Marco Andretti
Whole
20
Helio Castroneves
Two-percent
21
Scott Dixon
Whole
22
Agustin Canapino
Whole
23
Sting Ray Robb
Whole
24
Christian Rasmussen
Fat-free
25
Tom Blomqvist
Whole
26
Romain Grosjean
Two-percent
27
Linus Lundqvist
Whole
28
Christian Lundgaard
Fat-free
29
Conor Daly
Whole
30
Pietro Fittipaldi
Whole
31
Katherine Legge
Whole
32
Marcus Ericsson
Whole
33
Graham Rahal
Two-percent

Who is singing the national anthem at the Indy 500 in 2024?

Jordin Sparks will sing the American national anthem at the 2024 Indy 500. Sparks is a Grammy-nominated and multi-platinum singer-songwriter, who shot to stardom by winning the 2007 American Idol at the age of 17. To this day, she remains the show’s youngest-ever winner.
Since then, Sparks has released four studio albums with her biggest hit ‘No Air’ - sung in collaboration with Chris Brown - reaching number three in the United States charts and top in Australia and New Zealand.
This will be the second time that Sparks has performed The Star-Spangled Banner at the brickyard, after doing so ahead of the 2015 Indy 500.

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