In accordance with Indiana state health guidelines regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, track owner and IndyCar owner Roger Penske has had to exclude the fans, 250,000-plus of whom traditionally make this the biggest one-day sporting event in the world. The grandstands have been eerily empty through last week’s practice and qualifying days.
And seeing the inside of the track lacking fans on Carb Day (two days ago) was particularly odd. Traditionally, that is the day when not only does the NTT IndyCar Series run its final pre-race practice, there is also the Pitstop Challenge, the Indy Lights’ series gala event (the Freedom 100), and concerts.
The absence of fans has thrown the emphasis on NBC/NBCSN/NBC Sports Gold to broadcast the activities, and they have come through in style. We expect them to do the same today.
NBC Live coverage begins at 1.00pm and the prerace buildup will include: feature stories and interviews surrounding pole-sitter Marco Andretti and his iconic grandfather, 1969 Indy 500 winner Mario Andretti; interviews with 2019 Indy winner Simon Pagenaud and 2016 winner Alexander Rossi; a live interview with NBC Sports analyst Dale Earnhardt Jr. from Charlotte; the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by the “Singing Surgeons,” former Mayo Clinic orthopedic surgery residents Dr. Elvis Francois and Dr. William Robinson; and the singing of “Back Home Again in Indiana” by Chicago Blackhawks anthem singer Jim Cornelison.
Mike Tirico hosts live pre-race coverage alongside guest analyst and former IndyCar driver Danica Patrick from the Yard of Bricks. Pre-race coverage will include NBC Sports’ lead IndyCar commentary team of Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy, who will also call the race on NBC, as well as pit reporters Marty Snider, Kelli Stavast and Kevin Lee. Rutledge Wood will provide reports from around the track, and engaging with fans via social media throughout the broadcast.
SCHEDULE: (All times Eastern)
1.00pm: All Cars on Grid
1.00pm: NBC Live Coverage Begins
1:20pm: “On the Banks of the Wabash”
1:47pm: Indianapolis 500 Driver Introductions
2:08pm: Presentation of Colors, Military Joint Services
2:09pm: Invocation – Archbishop Charles C. Thompson, Archdiocese of Indianapolis
2:10pm: Rifle Volley
2:12pm: National Anthem
2:14pm: First Flyover – U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds
2:14pm: “Drivers, To Your Cars”
2:20pm: “Back Home Again in Indiana”
2:22pm: Second Flyover – U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds
2:22pm: Command to start engines from Roger Penske
2:30pm: Green Flag, 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge (200 laps) Flag waved by Dan Towriss, President and CEO, Gainbridge.
How the grid lines up
Photo by: IndyCar