A month away from the oval-track aero kit test and the entry list for the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500 is closing in on 33 cars. There’s even a shot at some real bumping in qualifying.
As it stands today, there are 26 confirmed driver-car combinations, with at least a half dozen that are solid but haven’t officially been announced and another handful of potential starters.
Andretti Autosport leads the way with five cars and team manager Rob Edwards said that would be it. “We’re happy with the five we’ve got,” he said, dismissing the rumor a sixth car was in the works.
Team Penske and Chip Ganassi are each fielding four cars with no plans to add any more while KVSH Racing is also at four with an asterisk. USAC star Bryan Clauson will make his second Indy appearance as part of KVSH with backing from the Byrd family. As RACER’s Marshall Pruett reported last week, Alex Tagliani will also be in a KVSH car but it could be farmed out to another team.
Putting J.R. Hildebrand in the third car for CFH Racing alongside Ed Carpenter and Josef Newgarden seems to be set, as does Pippa Mann in a third car for Dale Coyne, although it’s not yet clear if rookie Franceso Dracone will be participating.
A.J. Foyt Racing fields cars for Takuma Sato and Jack Hawksworth while Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson are campaigning James Hinchcliffe and James Jakes. And Jay Howard joins rookie Gabby Chaves in May for Bryan Herta Autosport.
Bob Lazier says son Buddy is planning to return in their own car and Townsend Bell is reportedly headed to Dennis Reinbold’s team.
There’s a good possibility veteran Oriol Servia (BELOW with Bell) will be back next month to team with Graham Rahal at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing like he did last year, so that would bring the total to 32 or 33, depending on Coyne’s situation.
Sebastian Saavedra, the polesitter of the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis last May and four-time Indy 500 starter, sounds like a sure thing. “I’m confident Sebastian will be in both races next month and I’ll be behind him,” said longtime owner Gary Peterson on Sunday afternoon.
Saavedra would be 32 or 33 and it’s believed Conor Daly, James Davison, Katherine Legge and Stefan Wilson all have some sponsorship but need help.
Ryan Briscoe, the 2012 Indy 500 polesitter and nine-time starter, is also interested with the right situation and it could be with veteran Keith Wiggins running an extra car for an existing team.
What might still be available?
Larry Foyt said he wasn’t against fielding a third ABC car if the funding could be found but he had to run the idea by A.J., and Schmidt Peterson running another car is never out of the question.
So, even though 33 is only a number, it’s going to be reached again for May 24.
INDY 500 ENTRIES & BEST GUESSES
Andretti Autosport (5)
Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti, Justin Wilson, Carlos Munoz and Simona De Silvestro.
Chip Ganassi Racing (4)
Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball, Sage Karam.
Team Penske (4)
Helio Castroneves, Will Power, Juan Montoya, Simon Pagenaud.
KVSH Racing (4)
Sebastien Bourdais, Stefano Coletti, Bryan Clauson, *-Alex Tagliani.
CFH Racing (3)
Ed Carpenter, Josef Newgarden, *-J.R. Hildebrand.
Dale Coyne Racing (3)
Carlos Huertas, *-Francesco Dracone, *-Pippa Mann.
Schmidt Peterson Motorsport (2)
James Hinchcliffe, James Jakes.
A.J. Foyt Racing (2)
Takuma Sato, Jack Hawksworth.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (2)
Graham Rahal, *-Oriol Servia.
Bryan Herta Autosport (2)
Gabby Chaves, Jay Howard.
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (1)
Lazier Partners Racing (1)