New Albany native will race in the 108th Indianapolis 500

INDIANAPOLIS (WCMH) — The defending champion looks to avoid the shadow of a cheating scandal. Another NASCAR driver is trying to pull double duty. And a Central Ohio native back in the field after missing out last year.

There’s plenty of storylines to follow in this year’s edition of the Indianapolis 500. Here’s a look at who to watch for in this year’s race.

Former sports reporter looks to end stigma of mental health one podcast at a time

New Albany’s Graham Rahal (barely) makes the cut

Graham Rahal remembers what it was like to be on the outside looking in when he failed to make the cut for last year’s Indy 500. So the New Albany-native took little comfort in how he made the field for this year’s race.

Rahal drove an average speed of 229.974 during last chance qualifying on Sunday, good enough to grab the 33rd and final spot in the field. The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver didn’t solidify his place in the race until Nolan Siegel crashed on his final qualifying attempt. The 19-year-old rookie hit the wall off the first turn after his first lap.

“It’s never good to see anyone lose it like that. Nolan’s a young kid, he’s got a bright future. I expect to see him back here and doing great things,” Rahal said. “I’ve been there. Last year, it still stings. It’s not much better being 33rd, I can tell you that. But at least we’re in the field and we’re going to go racing.”

Rahal will start on the outside of the 11th row seeking his seventh career IndyCar victory and his first at the Indy 500.

Meyer Shank Racing well represented in Indy

All three Meyer Shank Racing drivers will be at the Brickyard racing to get into victory lane on Sunday. The Central Ohio-based team is led by Felix Rosenqvist, who will start on the outside of row 3 after averaging 232.305 mph in qualifying. Rosenqvist sits fifth in the standings with two top-five finishes so far this season.

Helio Castroneves will start in 20th after averaging 231.871 mph in qualifying last weekend. The four-time Indy 500 champion would set a record with a win on Sunday but the part-time driver has been mentoring MSR’s other drivers this season including Rosenqvist and series rookie Tom Blomqvist, who will start 25th on the grid. The driver of the No. 66 car brings a winning resume to IndyCar, including an IMSA championship and two Rolex 24 Hour victories.

McLaughlin leads all-Penske front row

Scott McLaughlin will have the coveted pole position in Sunday’s race after running the fastest four-lap average at 234.220 mph. The New Zealand-native leads his Penske teammates in the front row with Will Power and defending champion Josef Newgarden starting second and third, respectively.

“Car feels good, been happy with it since we showed up. There’s been a lot of work put into this race car all year from everybody,” Newgarden said. “We’re gonna see how things shape up. Gotta be ready for I think everything. We’re gonna make a plan. We might follow the plan or we might change the plan. You never know with the Indy 500.”

Newgarden and Penske look to turn the page after a cheating scandal earlier this season engulfed the IndyCar team. Roger Penske suspended two senior leaders and two engineers ahead of the Indianapolis 500 after Newgarden’s illegal use of his car’s push-to-pass system during the season opener at St. Petersburg, Florida on March 10. Newgarden was stripped of the win and all three Penske drivers were hit with points losses and fines.

Larson looks to complete IndyCar-NASCAR double

Kyle Larson will look to be the first driver in ten years to race in both the Indy 500 and the Coca Cola 600 in Charlotte on the same day. Larson will start in fifth position after averaging 232.846 mph during qualifying. But weather won’t be on his side on Sunday.

The potential for rain threatens Larson’s bid to complete motor racing’s ultimate endurance test as he looks to the fifth driver in drive in both races. The Hendrick Motorsports driver partnered with Arrow McLaren to make his Indy 500 debut and will drive the No. 17 Chevrolet.

Coverage of the Indianapolis 500 starts at 11 a.m. on NBC4.

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to NBC4 WCMH-TV.