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Indy 500 begins with Alex Palou on pole, Graham Rahal having problems


The 107th running of the Indianapolis 500 began with the usual pageantry Sunday before a crowd of more than 300,000 people inside Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and with Graham Rahal left on the starting grid when his car wouldn't fire up after Roger Penske's command to start the engines.

IndyCar points leader Alex Palou, the series champion two years ago, led the race to green from the powerful quartet of Chip Ganassi Racing. Palou was the betting favorite at 4-1 odds, according to FanDuel Sportsbook, ahead of Pato O'Ward, the Mexican star for the equally stout Arrow McLaren, and Ganassi teammate Scott Dixon, who is still searching for a second Indy 500 win.

Palou and Dixon have two more teammates capable of winning in defending champion Marcus Ericsson and two-time winner Takuma Sato, while O'Ward has McLaren teammates Felix Rosenqvist and former winners Alexander Rossi and Tony Kanaan.

Then there was Rahal, who failed to qualify his own car for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. He stepped into the No. 24 car of Stefan Wilson after he was injured in a wreck in practice. Wilson showed up at the speedway just four days after having surgery to stabilize a fractured vertebrae, walking slowly into the Dreyer & Reinbold garage to greet his team.

But when Penske, who closed on the sale of the track in January 2020, gave the command to start the engines, Rahal's car wouldn't fire up and the rest of the grid pulled away. It tried to go once but stalled again, and the team had to push him to pit road.

By the time the car started, the green flag had flown and Rahal already was a lap down.

Things rarely go according to script in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” The chaos of 33 cars flying down the front stretch and into that infamous first turn at more than 230 mph, and the ensuing 200 laps, often produces unexpected results.

Asked for a surprise contender, Colton Herta of Andretti Autosport replied: “Canapino.”

That would be Agustin Canapino, one of the most popular athletes in Argentina, who is making his Indy 500 debut. He has been fast in practice and, despite qualifying in the ninth row, showed plenty of speed in Friday's final shakedown.

Santino Ferrucci is another driver who has come out of nowhere in May. He joined A.J. Foyt Racing, which has struggled for years but underwent an operational overhaul in the offseason, and along with rookie Benjamin Pedersen has turned some heads.

Two of the more high-profile teams have had quiet Indianapolis 500 preps before making a statement in final practice.

Andretti Autosport has flown under the radar but sent a warning shot on Friday when Kyle Kirkwood was fifth-fastest on the speed chart, with Herta two spots behind him and Romain Grosjean giving the team a third car in the top eight.

Meanwhile, the Penske team seemed to find some speed during final practice after putting just one driver in the first four rows in qualifying. Will Power turned the third-fastest lap in practice while Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin were in the top 10. Top Stories


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