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Indy 500 weather update Sunday: Rain has stopped, track hoping to start by 5 p.m.

INDIANAPOLIS — After a storm delayed the start of the 108th Indy 500, track drying has begun with hopes of a green flag by 5 p.m. ET.

As a nearly two-hour storm had abated at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, track president Doug Boles said during a 2:30 p.m. ET news conference that he hoped the 2.5-mile surface would be dry within two hours.

Boles said the track would begin doing elements of its elaborate and tradition-steeped prerace ceremonies as track drying was under way. IMS has rented a fleet of NASCAR’s Air Titan drying system.

The Memorial Day-themed ceremonies and other famous elements of Indy 500 prerace (such as “Back Home Again in Indiana” and the playing of “Taps”) would go on as scheduled. The Thunderbirds also will participate in a double flyover.

Sheets of rain began drenching Indianapolis Motor Speedway at 12:45 p.m. ET, which had been the originally scheduled time for the green flag.

The inclement weather had been expected since early this morning with the 33-car field kept in the garage all morning as the prerace schedule for opening ceremonies was placed on an indefinite weather hold.

With lightning expected, IMS officials began clearing the grandstands by 11:20 a.m. ET. IMS clears the grandstands when lightning strikes within 8 miles of the track.

In an earlier 10:45 a.m. news conference, Boles estimated about 125,000 of an expected crowd of 345,000 were inside the track.

“This is a challenging day for us,” Boles said. “We have a lot of passionate fans here. No matter the decision, the most important thing is thinking about the fans.

“The hope is that on the backside of (the storm), we can begin drying the track by 2:30 to 3 p.m. and still start the Indianapolis 500 and get the race in today.”

Boles remainined hopeful later that the race would run full distance. Sunset is around 9 p.m. ET, and it takes about three hours to complete 500 miles.

Coverage of the Indy 500 began at 11 a.m. ET on NBC and Peacock.

Here are the start times, full schedule, TV and streaming information for watching the 108th Indy 500 on May 26 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

In addition to clearing the grandstands, Boles said the EDM music festival (which draws about 30,000 to the Snake Pit in Turn 3) also was halted. It was expected to restart at 3 p.m.

Boles said during a 6:20 a.m. news conference that the track considered moving the start ahead by 30 minutes but decided at 4:45 a.m. ET to stay with the original schedule.

“There was consideration of moving the start time up to 12:15, but it didn’t make any sense to do that,” Boles said. “The last thing we want is to move it up to 12:15 and have customers waiting and then ask them to leave because of the weather. Because of where (the storm is) tracking, that doesn’t make sense and maybe would put us in a worse situation.”

The start of the race being in doubt also cast a pall of uncertainty on Kyle Larson’s bid to become the fifth driver to run the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day.

The green flag for the Coke 600 was set for 6:22 p.m. ET, meaning Larson likely would be unable to make the start if he and Hendrick Motorsports elect to remain at the Brickyard.

The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion remains committed to his IndyCar debut even if it means missing the start of the Coca-Cola 600.

In a prerace interview with NBC Sports’ Marty Snider, Larson reiterated that making his Indy 500 debut was a priority. “It’s not just my decision, it’s everybody within Hendrick, Rick Hendrick, Hendrick Automotive Group (the sponsor), Hendrick Motorsports all that,” Larson said.

“I think we ‘re all part of the decision. Jeff Gordon, Jeff Andrews. There’s just been so much time and investment to make this Indy 500 happen. It’s been a buildup for over a year. We need to run it, and I want to; I feel like I have a really good shot to have a good run and potentially win.

“I just wish it would all work out, and we could get both races in the full distance. I don’t care if it’s on the same day. I just want to be able to race both races the full distance. But we’ll see.”