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2021 Indianapolis 500 Presented by Gainbridge Field Notes
By INDYCAR | Published: May 23, 2021
Scott Dixon earned his fourth career Indianapolis 500 pole, tied with Rex Mays, A.J. Foyt and Helio Castroneves for the second-most of all time. Rick Mears holds the record with six poles. Dixon’s previous poles came in 2008, 2015 and 2017. He won the race from the pole in 2008.
This is the sixth Indianapolis 500 pole for Chip Ganassi Racing, the second-most of all time. Scott Dixon has won poles for the team in 2008, 2015, 2017 and 2021. Arie Luyendyk won CGR’s first pole, in 1993, and Bruno Junqueira won the pole for the team in 2002.
The last time the No. 9 car won the pole was in 2017, with Scott Dixon at the wheel. This is the fifth pole for car No. 9.
This is the fastest starting field in Indianapolis 500 history, with an average speed of 230.294. The previous fastest starting field came in 2014, with an average speed of 229.382 mph.
This is the third-closest field in Indianapolis 500 history, by time. The gap between pole winner Scott Dixon and slowest qualifier Dalton Kellett is 2.288 seconds. The record is 1.8040 seconds between pole winner Simon Pagenaud and slowest qualifier Kyle Kaiser in 2019. The second-closest gap is 2.1509 seconds, in 2014.
Rinus VeeKay is the youngest front-row starter in Indianapolis 500 history. He will be 20 years, 261 days old on Race Day. The previous record was 21 years, 144 days old by Carlos Munoz in 2013.
There are nine former Indianapolis 500 winners in the starting field: Juan Pablo Montoya (2000, 2015), Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002, 2009), Scott Dixon (2008), Tony Kanaan (2013), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2014), Alexander Rossi (2016), Takuma Sato (2017, 2020), Will Power (2018) and Simon Pagenaud (2019). Between them, they have 13 victories. The record for most former winners in the field is 10, in 1992. The fewest, other than the inaugural race in 1911, is zero in 1912.
There are two rookies in the field. This year’s rookies are Pietro Fittipaldi and Scott McLaughlin. Last year there were five rookies in the race. Fittipaldi is the grandson of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Emerson Fittipaldi.
In addition to the two rookies in the race, there are five drivers (Sebastien Bourdais, Simona De Silvestro, Ed Jones, Juan Pablo Montoya, Stefan Wilson) who did not start in last year’s race. Bourdais’ last start came in 2019, De Silvestro’s last start came in 2015, Jones’ last start came in 2019, Montoya’s last start came in 2017, and Wilson’s last start came in 2018.
Helio Castroneves is the most experienced driver in the field, with 20 previous Indianapolis 500 starts. The record is 35, set in consecutive years from 1958-1992 by A.J. Foyt.
Scott Dixon has led 563 career laps in the Indianapolis 500, more than any other driver in this year’s field. Other drivers in the field who have led more than 200 laps are Tony Kanaan (346) and Helio Castroneves (305).
The oldest driver in the starting field is Tony Kanaan, 46 years, 150 days on Race Day. The youngest drivers is Rinus VeeKay, 20 years, 261 days on Race Day. A.J. Foyt is the oldest driver to start the Indianapolis 500. He was 57 years, 128 days old when he made his last start in 1992. A.J. Foyt IV is the youngest driver to start the Indianapolis 500. His 19th birthday was on Race Day, 2003.
Twenty-two different drivers in this year’s field have led a total of 2,523 laps in previous Indianapolis 500-Mile Races.
There is a combined 237 previous Indianapolis 500 starts among the 33 drivers in this year’s field. The record is 260 years of experience, set in 1987 and 1992. There were 211 years of combined experience in last year’s field.
The most-experienced row in this year’s starting lineup is Row 2, with a combined 37 career starts (Ed Carpenter 17, Tony Kanaan 19, Alex Palou 1). The least-experienced row is Row 10, with seven combined career starts (Stefan Wilson 2, Max Chilton 4, Dalton Kellett 1).
There are nine former Indianapolis 500 Rookies of the Year in this year’s field, an event record. The previous record was eight, in 1990.
This is the second time a Team Penske car will start from the back row of the Indianapolis 500. The other time was in 1978, when Mario Andretti started 33rd. But there’s a catch: Andretti was forced to start in the rear of the field when he missed qualifying due to racing in the Belgian Grand Prix in Formula One. Mike Hiss qualified the car eighth, but the driver switch forced Andretti to start from the rear. He finished 12th.
Sage Karam will start 31st for the third consecutive year in a Dreyer & Reinbold Racing entry.
Twenty of the 33 starters in this year’s field are veterans of Road to Indy. The veterans are Marco Andretti, Ed Carpenter, Helio Castroneves, Max Chilton, Conor Daly, Scott Dixon, Jack Harvey, Colton Herta, JR Hildebrand, James Hinchcliffe, Ed Jones, Tony Kanaan, Sage Karam, Dalton Kellett, Josef Newgarden, Pato O’Ward, Graham Rahal, Felix Rosenqvist, Rinus VeeKay and Stefan Wilson.
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