INDIANAPOLIS — Scott Dixon started on the pole for the Indianapolis 500 a year ago, then quickly went to the front and led 95 laps, and there was every reason to believe he would finally kiss the bricks for the second time after 14 years of trying.

Then one of the greatest drivers of his generation was caught speeding on pit road – by 1 mph. The penalty shuffled Dixon to the back of the field, and he only managed to climb back to 21st, well behind teammate and race winner Marcus Ericsson.

Yet it wasn’t that rare mistake that Dixon dwells on the most these days.

“I think it’s always the ones that finish under caution. There’s been three or four of those,” said Dixon, who qualified sixth for Sunday’s 107th running of the Indy 500, and who was a popular voice at Thursday’s annual media day. “You just can’t be in the fight. Those are the tough ones. And some of those strategies, you knew the other cars couldn’t make it.”

Dixon has led an Indy 500-record 665 career laps and won in 2008. He trailed only Dario Franchitti in 2007, when a crash between Dan Wheldon and Marco Andretti brought out yellow. More rain began to fall and the race ended that way on Lap 166 of 200.

Five years later, the race ended under caution when Franchitti and Takuma Sato crashed on the last lap, with Dixon in second.


And just three years ago, Dixon led a race-high 111 laps before a crash by Spencer Pigot with five to go brought out caution. That was how the race ended, with Sato the only one ahead of the six-time IndyCar Series champion.

“You can’t change anything, so you just got to move on,” Dixon said. “I think they’re all tough. Finishing second here, or having a close miss here, is horrible. There’s only one happy person. The seconds under caution, I think, are hardest, to be honest.”

TONY KANAAN has thought a lot about what Sunday will be like, when the winner of the 2013 Indy 500 walks toward the starting grid for the final time. One of the most popular drivers ever to grace Gasoline Alley, Kanaan has talked about retiring many times over the years, but the tears that flowed during his final qualifying weekend underscored that this could be it.

He has a car to make it memorable. Kanaan put his Arrow McLaren ride on the outside of Row 3.

“It’ll stop when I put my helmet on,” he said, “but up until then, I’m going to be a wreck for sure. From the green room to the driver’s intro, I don’t even want to think – it’s one of the times I’ve enjoyed the most in the past, and I’m frightened by it. Because I just know, I mean, the nerves are up there. Every single driver in that green room, we’re ready to go. The emotions are high.

“Then you’re going to add it’s the last one? I’m going to have to drink a couple of extra bottles of water,” Kanaan said with his trademark smile, “because that’s how much I’ll be crying.”


• Driver Stefan Wilson had surgery to repair a fractured vertebrae that he sustained in practice for the Indianapolis 500, and car owner Don Cusick said that he was “in great spirits and feeling better.”

Wilson was about halfway through a two-hour practice Monday when he was hit from behind by Katherine Legge as they went through Turns 1 and 2 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Legge’s car hit the wall with the rear, but Wilson was turned nearly head-on when he made contact. The safety team needed about 10 minutes to remove him from the car.

Wilson was taken to Methodist Hospital and underwent surgery Wednesday for a posterior fusion and internal fixation of the fracture. The procedure took about three hours and it was unclear when Wilson would be released.

“I feel a lot better day,” Wilson said in a video posted from his hospital bed. “The recovery journey starts now and the race recovery for the 2024 Indy 500 starts now. … I’m so thankful to everyone who has reached out. It means a lot. It helps me keep my spirits high. I’m so disappointed I couldn’t race this weekend but the focus is on the future.”

• When Doug Boles took his dream job as Indianapolis Motor Speedway president, he devoted himself to cleaning up the track’s increasingly common race-day blight of empty seats and empty sections.

Sure, that meant selling tickets. But to the lifelong Indianapolis 500 fan, it also meant selling newcomers on the pageantry, pizzazz and purpose of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”


A decade later, Boles has presided over an IndyCar renaissance few saw coming, one that has included the first two announced sellouts since the resumption of the 500 after World War II, what appears to be another near sellout for again this year, and potentially even bigger crowds in the future.

“It was painful because my memories and what made me love this place was coming here in 1977 when the seats were full,” he said, reflecting on the decline that began in the mid-1990s. “I get the question all the time, what’s the Indianapolis 500 like? I don’t even know where to begin. You truly, truly have to experience it to describe it.”

Boles rebranded the event with a years-long campaign to celebrate the 100th anniversaries of the Brickyard’s biggest moments, culminating in 2016 when ticket sales were cut off for what was believed to be the first time in a century of racing.

Race organizers also sold all 135,000 tickets in 2021 when public health officials limited capacity because of the pandemic. Last year’s crowd was the largest since 2000, with the exception of 2016, and this weekend will be even larger. Boles said Thursday fewer than 5,000 tickets are available.

CUP SERIES: NASCAR has opened an investigation into how a derogatory message was broadcast on the radio channel of Bubba Wallace’s race team during last weekend’s All-Star race.

Wallace, the only Black driver in the Cup Series, had just finished Sunday’s race at North Wilkesboro Speedway when a person not on the 23XI Racing team said over the radio, “Go back to where you came from” and then added another non-racial expletive.


NASCAR spokesman Mike Forde said the series immediately had its security and racing electronic teams look into the hack. He said Wallace did not hear the remark.

Forde said NASCAR is trying to determine who cracked Wallace’s radio communications and how it was done, as well as the best method toward preventing it from happening in the future.

• Xfinity has signed on as a founding partner for NASCAR’s inaugural Chicago Street Race Weekend, giving the event another corporate sponsor.

NASCAR announced the agreement, providing Xfinity with presenting, marketing and promotional rights for the July 1-2 race weekend. McDonald’s and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois also are serving as founding partners for the event.

FORMULA ONE: Seven-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton said he’s not been approached by Ferrari and is hopeful a contract extension with Mercedes will be finalized “in the coming weeks.”

The 38-year-old is in a contract year with Mercedes, and recent reports have linked Hamilton to a move to Ferrari. But the British driver said at the Monaco Grand Prix there have been no talks with Ferrari and his personal team is negotiating with Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff.

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