American Legion, Be the One to be seen by millions during Indy 500
(CoForce LLC photo and photo by Walk Kuhn/Penske Entertainment)

American Legion, Be the One to be seen by millions during Indy 500

The No. 8 American Legion Honda and it’s Be the One messaging will be on full display globally this weekend, with more than 200,000 fans in attendance and millions watching across the world during the 108th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) rookie Linus Lunqvist will be driving the car at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in his first oval race behind the wheel of the No. 8 car. He’ll start the race 27th 27th and this week talked about the overall experience at the IMS oval.

“This whole experience has been amazing,” Lundqvist said. “You've been watching this race for so many years as a kid growing up. I've been a fan many, many years. The past four or five years. You get goose bumps when you watch the start of the race as a fan. I can only imagine what it's going to be like to actually do it.”

Lundqvist currently sits in 13th place overall in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES points standings and is leading the Rookie of the Year standings, sitting eight points ahead of CGR teammate Kyffin Simpson.

He said this week has been somewhat bittersweet. “I'm a little bit torn, actually. Kind of two camps within me,” Lundqvist said. “One is you've been chasing your whole life and career towards this one dream. It's kind of upon you right now. You're going to start the Indianapolis 500. But I'm also a very competitive guy, which means that I'm not really happy until we're fighting at the front and being competitive. I just haven't been this week.

“At the same time I still want to enjoy this because I'm extremely privileged to be one of very few people to get to experience the Indianapolis 500. There's a little bit of two camps within myself.”

But Lundqvist also said he’s been able to draw from the experience of fellow CGR drivers like Alex Palou and Scott Dixon as he prepares for Sunday’s race.

“I mean, that's one of the many privileges of driving with Chip Ganassi Racing is having teammates like Scott and Alex to kind of lean on,” he said. “I kind of alluded to that earlier throughout the week, as well. Obviously, we have three rookies now going into this race with myself, Marcus (Armstrong) and Kyffin. I think it takes a little bit of pressure off of us in the sense that we don't have to focus too much on developing the car and extracting performance. You can leave that to Alex and Scott. You can take your time.

“It's not like we're doing laps and doing it for the fun of it. You're still learning and developing, but you don't need to push it to the absolute limit and try to find another 10th of a mile an hour. You can leave that to Scott and Alex, which I think has been good for us.”

Palou, the defending NTT INDYCAR SERIES champ, will start in the 14th position driving the No. 10 DHL Honda that also features American Legion branding. Palou leads the series points race and finished the 500 fourth last year after dropping all the way down to 28th after being put into the wall coming out of a pit stop.

“Last year we were super comfortable on (race day), and I would say it was pretty easy to pass,” Palou said. “I think this year, we still are able to pass, but it's not as easy. You need to work a lot more. You need to wait a lot more. So yeah, we're struggling a little bit more. That doesn't mean that we're completely off, and especially at this race. But yeah, we have some work to do.”

Palou talked about what he looks forward to on race weekend. “I would say my most favorite probably is driver intros,” he said. “We've been here for two weeks or almost three weeks, and it's empty most of the days. Then when it's driver intros, they say your name, it's pretty special seeing everybody.

“Then I would say the parade on Saturday, it's also one of the best moments because you share more with the family and all that stuff. Yeah, it's a really special week for the drivers that get to do this race.”

A reminder that The American Legion’s activation display will be open for business Friday and Sunday this weekend. At the display, visitors can learn about The American Legion’s Be the One veteran suicide prevention program, as well as take the pledge to Be the One for a veteran. Those who do are given a lanyard and a badge with the words “I Will Be the One” on it; those who take the pledge and are seen by Legion staff and volunteers around the track have a shot at winning a prize that could include autographed items, seat upgrades or a Victory Lane photo with the race winner.

And veterans can get assistance with filing or following up on U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ benefits claims. American Legion Department of Indiana Rehabilitation Assistant Director Bryce Hullett already has assisted with approximately 50 veterans with their benefits claims already this month.

This weekend’s broadcast schedule (all times ET):

Friday, May 24 – Carb Day practice, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.; Pit Stop Challenge, 2:30-4 p.m. (both Peacock).

Sunday, May 26 – 108th running of the Indianapolis 500, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. (NBC, Universo and Peacock).

On-track race day schedule (all times ET):

·       9:00-9:20 a.m. – cars to pit lane.

·       10:30 a.m. – cars to grid on front stretch.

·       11:47 a.m. – driver introductions.

·       12:21 p.m. – “God Bless America”.

·       12:24 p.m. – National Anthem.

·       12:36 p.m. – “Back Home Again in Indiana”.

·       12:45 p.m. – 108th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Facts and figures about the Indianapolis 500 starting field

·       Scott McLaughlin earned his first career Indianapolis 500 pole. He is the first New Zealand native and the second New Zealand citizen to win a pole for “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Scott Dixon, who is a New Zealand citizen but was born in Australia, has won five Indianapolis 500 poles.

·       Scott McLaughlin’s best qualifying position in three previous Indianapolis 500 starts was 14th in 2023.

·       Scott McLaughlin produced the fastest four-lap average speed in history for an Indianapolis 500 pole winner, 234.220 mph. The previous record was 234.217 set in 2023 by Alex Palou. Arie Luyendyk set the all-time four-lap qualifying average speed record of 236.986 in 1996, but his run came on the second day of qualifications and wasn’t eligible for the pole.

·       Team Penske earned its record-extending 19th Indianapolis 500 pole. The team’s last pole was delivered by Simon Pagenaud in 2019. Team Penske also has a record 19 Indianapolis 500 victories.

·       Team Penske swept the front row for the Indianapolis 500 for just the second time in Indianapolis 500 history, with Scott McLaughlin on pole, Will Power second and Josef Newgarden third. Team Penske first achieved the feat in 1988 with Rick Mears on pole, Danny Sullivan second and Al Unser third.

·       In 1988, pole sitter Rick Mears drove a yellow Pennzoil-sponsored car, No. 2 starter Danny Sullivan was a one-time winner of the Indianapolis 500, and No. 3 starter Al Unser was the defending winner of the “500.” This year, Scott McLaughlin drives a Pennzoil-sponsored car, No. 2 starter Will Power is a one-time winner of the Indianapolis 500, and No. 3 starter Josef Newgarden is the defending winner of the “500.”

·       Chevrolet-powered drivers earned the first eight starting spots this year. The last time one manufacturer earned as many of the top starting spots was 2013, when Chevy took the top 10 starting positions.

·       This is the 10th time car No. 3 has won the Indianapolis 500 pole. The last time was 2010 with Helio Castroneves of Team Penske. Car No. 1 has won the pole a record 13 times.

·       This is the second-fastest starting field in Indianapolis 500 history, with an average speed of 231.943 mph. The record of 232.184 mph was set last year.

·       This is the second-fastest front row in Indianapolis 500 history, with an average speed of 233.981 mph. The record of 234.181 mph was set last year.

·       Kyle Larson turned the fastest qualifying lap by a rookie in Indianapolis 500 history, 233.453 mph on the first lap of his Top 12 Qualifying attempt. The previous record was 233.297 by Benjamin Pedersen in 2023.

·       Kyle Larson recorded the second-fastest four-lap qualifying average by a rookie in Indianapolis 500 history, 232.846 mph. The record is 233.100 set by Tony Stewart in 1996.

·       There are eight former Indianapolis 500 winners in the starting field: Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002, 2009, 2021), Scott Dixon (2008), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2014), Alexander Rossi (2016), Takuma Sato (2017, 2020), Will Power (2018), Marcus Ericsson (2022) and Josef Newgarden (2023). Between them, they have 12 victories. The record for most former winners in the field is 10, in 1992. The fewest, other than the inaugural race in 1911, is zero in 1912.

·       There are six rookies in the field: Kyle Larson (starting fifth), Marcus Armstrong (16th), Kyffin Simpson (18th), Christian Rasmussen (24th), Tom Blomqvist (25th) and Linus Lundqvist (27th).

·       Other than the six rookies, Pietro Fittipaldi is the only driver in the field who didn’t start the race in 2023. Fittipaldi’s last start was in 2021.

·       Helio Castroneves is the most experienced driver in the field, with 23 previous Indianapolis 500 starts. The record is 35, set in consecutive years from 1958-1992 by A.J. Foyt.

·       Scott Dixon has led 665 career laps in the Indianapolis 500, the all-time event record. The only other driver in the field who has led more than 200 laps is Helio Castroneves (326).

·       The oldest driver in the starting field is Helio Castroneves, 49 years, 16 days on Race Day. The youngest driver is Kyffin Simpson, 19 years, 230 days. A.J. Foyt is the oldest driver to start the Indianapolis 500. He was 57 years, 128 days old when he made his last start in 1992. A.J. Foyt IV is the youngest driver to start the Indianapolis 500. His 19th birthday was on Race Day, 2003.

·       Helio Castroneves will be older on Race Day than Al Unser when he became the oldest winner of the Indianapolis 500 in 1987 at age 47 years, 360 days old.

·       Kyffin Simpson will be younger on Race Day than Troy Ruttman when he became the youngest winner of the Indianapolis 500 in 1952 at age 22 years, 80 days old.

·       Twenty different drivers in this year’s field have led a total of 2,279 laps in previous Indianapolis 500s.

·       There are a combined 222 previous Indianapolis 500 starts among the 33 drivers in this year’s field. The record is 260 years of experience, set in 1987 and 1992. There were 235 years of combined experience in last year’s field.

·       The most-experienced row in this year’s starting lineup is Row 7, with a combined 62 career starts (Marco Andretti 18, Helio Castroneves 23, Scott Dixon 21). The least-experienced rows are Rows 8 and 9, with two combined career starts (Row 8: Agustin Canapino 1, Sting Ray Robb 1, Christian Rasmussen 0; Row 9; Tom Blomqvist 0, Romain Grosjean 2, Linus Lundqvist 0).

·       There are seven former Indianapolis 500 Rookies of the Year in this year’s field. The record is nine, in 1991 and 2021.

To learn more about The American Legion’s Be the One program, click here.