Day 1, Indy 500 quals: Spencer Pigot fastest; Alonso, Hinchcliffe outside

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It was a wild Saturday afternoon at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with long-shot entries locking themselves into the field while fan favorites Fernando Alonso and James Hinchcliffe remain in danger of being bumped.

Spencer Pigot set the fastest lap of the day with a four-lap average of 230.083 mph that puts him on the provisional pole going into Sunday’s Fast Nine Shootout. However, rain is forecast for tomorrow.

Should qualifying go on as planned, Pigot will join Will Power, Simon Pagenaud, Josef Newgarden, Colton Herta, Ed Jones, Ed Carpenter, Alexander Rossi and Sebastien Bourdais in the session to set the first three rows of the Indianapolis 500 starting grid.

However, INDYCAR officials have stated that finalizing the 33-car starting grid will take priority over Fast Nine qualifying, meaning Pigot’s fast four laps on Saturday may have been the run for the pole.

THE 103RD INDIANAPOLIS 500: Click here for how to watch, full daily schedules

Sunday’s Last Row Shootout will feature two notable names who were not expected to be in trouble when Indianapolis 500 practice began on Tuesday.

Two-time Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso, who led 27 laps in his debut Indy 500 in 2017, has been slow all week, and spent Sunday afternoon making five qualifying attempts to try and post a fast enough average to lock his No. 66 McLaren Racing entry into the field.

Alonso did make it into the top 30 with his fifth and final attempt, but JR Hildebrand bumped him with minutes remaining in Day 1, when he made a four-lap average run of 227.908 mph (qualified 21st).

James Hinchcliffe is also facing a tense Sunday as he tries to avoid missing the Indy 500 for the second straight year. After wrecking his primary car earlier today, he was unable to get his backup car into the field.

Sage Karam, Patricio O’Ward, Max Chilton and Kyle Kaiser are also on the outside looking in.

Click here for full day 1 qualification results. 

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IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.