The Indianapolis 500 is expected to be postponed amid a storm warning

INDIANAPOLIS — The start of the Indianapolis 500 was expected to be delayed as a powerful storm moved into the area, forcing Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials to evacuate about 125,000 fans who had already arrived for the “greatest spectacle in racing.”

Video boards inside the interstate flashed that a severe thunderstorm warning was in effect as the storm approached from the west. It was expected to cause heavy rain accompanied by lightning and dangerous winds.

The brunt of the storm was expected to arrive around 12:45 PM ET, which is when the race was scheduled to begin. There was no word on how long the delay would last, but speedway president J. Douglas Boles said officials hope the window after the initial rain will allow enough time for the track to dry and at least 101 laps to be completed, making the race official. .

The track takes about 90 minutes to dry, depending on a number of factors. Indianapolis Motor Speedway brought in NASCAR’s track drying equipment to use alongside its own equipment in hopes of speeding up the process.

If rain persists or the race window does not last long enough, the entire 200-lap race will be run on Monday.

“Whatever decision we make at this point, it will be a difficult decision for some of our fans,” Pauls said. “Our hope is still, depending on what the weather looks like, that we can start drying the track around 2:30 or 3 a.m. and be able to get going.”

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There were also doubts about Kyle Larson’s plans to run the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Sunday night.

The NASCAR star is trying to become the fifth driver in history to complete the “double” by running both races on the same day. The last person to do so was Kurt Busch in 2014, and the only driver to complete the 1,100-mile distance was Tony Stewart in 2001.

Larson qualified fifth in his Indy 500 debut in a joint effort between Arrow McLaren and Hendrick Motorsports.

“I think our plan is to keep this as a priority,” said Larson, who will need a waiver from NASCAR to miss the Cup Series race at Charlotte, shortly before the grandstands emptied. “I think I’ll be here racing.”

The defending Indy 500 winner is Josef Newgarden, who is joined by Penske teammates Will Power and Scott McLaughlin on the front row. McLaughlin broke the qualifying record with four laps at an average of 234.220 mph.

Newgarden was trying to rebuild his reputation on the track after IndyCar discovered an illegal push-and-pass program on the three Team Penske cars and annulled Newgarden’s win and McLaughlin’s third-place finish in the season opener. President Tim Cindric, Newgarden’s strategist, is one of several team employees suspended over the race.

Only five drivers in 107 races have won the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” in consecutive years.

Chevrolet clearly had the speed advantage in qualifying when the engine manufacturer claimed the top eight positions on the grid. But Honda showed its ability to maintain its position in the race, meaning there was no clear favorite when the green flag dropped.

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