IndyCar start time: qualifying and race times ahead of Indianapolis road course

Jake Nichol August 13, 2021
IndyCar start time: qualifying and race times ahead of Indianapolis road course
Photo by Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After the chaotic, yet successful inaugural event last weekend in Nashville, the IndyCar Series returns to familiar ground this weekend. For the second time in 2021, it will race on the road course at Indianapolis, but when is the on-track action this weekend?

Grosjean leads returns to Indy

In May, ex-Formula 1 driver Romain Grosjean claimed his maiden series pole position on his first visit to the road course at Indianapolis.

The Frenchman was unable to convert the pole into a win around the 14 turn 2.4-mile circuit.

But he took a credible second place in his #51 Rick Ware Racing Honda-powered machine, behind first-time winner Rinus VeeKay.

Owing to restrictions around the covid-19 pandemic, some usual venues are unable to host IndyCar races.

This includes Toronto in Canada, meaning the additional race at Indianapolis will once again feature, having debuted in 2020.

IndyCar will not be the only series racing at Indy this weekend.

For the first time, it and the NASCAR Cup Series will run a double-header.

Cup has run on the oval since it started racing at Indy in 1994, but will switch to the road course for 2021.

When is IndyCar qualifying?

There will be a slight change to the qualifying format usually used by IndyCar.

The usual two group segment qualifying that whittles the field down to 12 runners before the top six for pole has been done away with.

Instead, the fastest six runners from each group advance through to a 12 car battle for pole.

Qualifying is scheduled to begin at 7pm ET on Friday evening. It will be broadcast on NBCSN.

For viewers in the UK, the start time for qualifying will be at 12am Saturday morning on SkySportsF1.

What about the race?

Scheduled for 85 laps, the green flag is expected to drop at 1pm ET on Saturday afternoon, again broadcast on NBCSN.

This translates to 6pm for UK viewers, with SkySportsF1 continuing to broadcast the NBC feed as per its deal.

Providing no driver withdraws or fails to qualify, 28 cars will take the green flag.

Outside the Indy 500, which is capped at 33 starters, it will be the biggest field since 29 cars took the start at Kentucky in 2011.

Helio Castroneves, who won a record-equaling fourth Indy 500 in May will once again be racing.

He will be competing, as he was in the 500 for Meyer Shank Racing in a part-time deal for 2021.

Elsewhere, Alpine Formula One junior Christian Lungaard will make his series debut.

The current Formula 2 racer will compete for Rahal Letterman Laningan Racing in the #45 machine.

Cody Ware will be the only driver attempting double-duty across both IndyCar and NASCAR.

He will again compete as Grosjean’s Rick Ware Racing team-mate, before switching to his Petty Ware Racing for the Cup race.

Ganassi trio hunt the title

Coming into the weekend, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou sits atop the standings after 11 rounds of 16.

The Spanish driver has taken two wins and sits on 410 points, comfortably ahead of his team-mate and team-leader, Scott Dixon.

The six-time champion is 42 back on 368 having finished runner-up to the third Ganassi pedaler Marcus Ericsson at Nashville.

Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward (362) and Penske’s Josef Newgarden (335) are the only other drivers along with Ericsson (331) with plausible title aims.

Explained: The fight for NASCAR’s ‘second’ Cup title

Photo by Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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Jake can usually be found writing about or watching anything to do with motorsport – from Formula 1 to NASCAR to British Truck Racing. His work as a motorsport journalist has been published by the likes of Autosport, and Motorsport News – all highly respected names. Away from racing he is a keen amateur astronomer, podcast listener and enjoys long walks in the park with his three dogs.