Friday, April 6, 2012

Updated Indy 500 Car Count Projections

(Note: I'm on vacation, so I probably won't respond to email or comments as quickly as usual).

With the news of both Jean Alesi at Newman/Haas and Ana Beatriz with Andretti/Conquest confirmed for the Indianapolis 500 this year, I thought it might be time to go through and do my best Indy 500 car count projections based on what we know now.

Confirmed Indy 500 Entrants (Italics note Indy rookie)

#2 Ryan Briscoe, Team Penske, Chevrolet

#3 Helio Castroneves, Team Penske, Chevrolet

#4 JR Hildebrand, Panther Racing, Chevrolet

#5 EJ Viso, KV Racing Technology, Chevrolet

#6 Katherine Legge, Lotus-Dragon Racing, Lotus

#7 Sebastien Bourdais, Lotus-Dragon Racing, Lotus

#8 Rubens Barrichello, KV Racing Technology, Lotus

#9 Scott Dixon, Target Chip Ganassi Racing, Honda

#10 Dario Franchitti, Target Chip Ganassi Racing, Honda

#11 Tony Kanaan, KV Racing Technology, Chevrolet

#12 Will Power, Team Penske, Chevrolet

#14 Mike Conway, A.J. Foyt Enterprises, Honda

#15 Takuma Sato, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, Honda

#17 Sebastian Saavedra, AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport, Chevrolet

#18 Justin Wilson, Dale Coyne Racing, Honda

#19 James Jakes, Dale Coyne Racing, Honda

#20 Ed Carpenter, Ed Carpenter Racing, Chevrolet

#22 Oriol Servia, Lotus-DRR, Lotus

#25 Ana Beatriz, Andretti Autosport/Conquest Racing, Chevrolet

#26 Marco Andretti, Andretti Autosport,Chevrolet

#27 James Hinchcliffe, Andretti Autosport, Chevrolet

#28 Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport, Chevrolet

#30 Luca Filippi, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, Honda

#38 Graham Rahal, Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing, Honda

#67 Josef Newgarden, Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, Honda

#77 Simon Pagenaud, Schmidt Hamilton Racing, Honda

#78 Simona de Silvestro, Lotus-HVM Racing, Lotus

#83 Charlie Kimball, Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing, Honda

#98 Alex Tagliani, Bryan Herta Autosport w/ Curb-Agajanian, Lotus

#TBA (02/06?) Jean Alesi, Newman/Haas Racing, Lotus

That's 30 cars right there: 13 Chevy, 11 Honda, and 6 Lotus engines, as confirmed entries stand. Hold on, because here comes the hard part. Here are my informed guesses/wild stabs at what we have left to get us to between the 34-35 cars we should have trying to make the field at Indy:

Projected/Probable (All car numbers speculative until final)

2nd Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing:
#57/66? Bryan Clauson, Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, Honda

2nd Panther Racing*
#44 Buddy Rice, Panther Racing, Chevrolet

2nd AJ Foyt Enterprises:
#41 Wade Cunningham, AJ Foyt Enterprises, Honda

2nd Schmidt Hamilton Racing:
#99 Townsend Bell, Schmidt Hamilton Racing, Honda

*-I know John Barnes is on record as saying this won't happen this year. Let's wait and see, shall we?

Humor me for a moment, and let's assume those are at least close to the mark. That brings us to 14 Chevy, 14 Honda, and 6 Lotus, for a total of 34 cars. Chevy and Honda probably won't go much past 14-15 engines, so at most we're probably looking at two more potential serious entries: for Chevy, a second Ed Carpenter Racing car, and for Honda, the middling possibility of a third Rahal Letterman Lanigan car (I've also heard of the possibility of one other ride that would in some manner be associated with Schmidt Hamilton Racing, but am pretty hesitant on that one right now). If you're asking about Michael Shank Racing, my gut feeling is they're a no-show right now. No engine, no budget, from the sound of things.

For those entries, I'll leave it to you to speculate on which driver will be in those seats, or if those seats will even be available. After all, some mystery has to remain in the 500 silly season. But with Alex Lloyd, Pippa Mann, Tomas Scheckter, Bertrand Baguette, John Andretti, and Jay Howard still floating around out there, not all items are settled yet. Suffice it to say, there are going to be some tremendous drivers qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, and some tremendous ones sitting on the sidelines, helmet in hand.


  1. Don't forget George Snider in the 84.

    1. Also, it simply amazes me that no one talks about Bruno Junquiera. He has been screwed over twice now and no love back by Foyt or Andretti or Conquest? Karma's a you-know-what.

    2. Ziggys making a comeback!!!

  2. The real question for me is if Honda/Chevy are going to move off the 14 engine commitments. In much the way the "10" engines were a roadblock before the season, the mfrs may not move past 14 for indy.
    The most drama might be in the Honda camp...with those you have listed out, throw RLLR and their Columbus based ALMS crew with their ALMS driver Jonathan Summerton (Who has plenty of Atlantics and Lights experience) in the mix and you could have another situation like was brewing before the season with SFHR.
    On the Chevy side, a fourth entry from KV with either Guerieri or Scheckter woul not surprise me.

  3. Ken @AbuelosDeTreceApril 7, 2012 at 2:31 PM

    Personally, I would love to see at least 36-38 cars for qualifications. That makes for a great bump day. And yes there are several names not on the list that should be. If Chevy and Honda can each do 14 for the 500, then Lotus has to come up with 8-10 to get us into that range. It can be done I believe and I am hoping it will be done. I think (hope) KV will probably sponsor/co-sponsor a 4th entry.
    I think it would be a real shame to have a bump day with no bump (only 33 cars), or only one above the 33 limit. So let’s hope that everyone gets together and plays nice this year so that Pippa Mann, Alex Lloyd, Tomas Scheckter, Bertrand Baguette, John Andretti, Jay Howard, Bruno Junquiera, Ho Pin Tung, a few of the Indy Lights drivers and perhaps even Paul Tracy are given the opportunity to have rides this year and a shot at participating in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
    And PLEASE team owners… no driver swapping this year!

    1. Ken @AbuelosDeTreceApril 7, 2012 at 2:39 PM

      Almost forgot... Isn't Townsend Bell in the mix for potential drivers as well?

    2. Yes, Townsend is working on getting a ride for the 500, probably with SHR.

    3. Zachary HoughtonApril 8, 2012 at 7:41 PM

      Yes, I noted Townsend Bell as very likely at Schmidt Hamilton Racing in the article above. I'm pretty sure that's looking pretty good.

  4. Jaques Lazier still in the mix.

  5. Buddy Rice will be in Carpenter's 2nd car, likely with Greg Beck along as well.

    Alex Lloyd could end up being in a 2nd Dreyer and Reinbold car.

    Paul Tracy will be in a Honda ride at Indy.

    Look for either 35 or 36 car/driver combos. And 7 LOTUS's if the 2nd Dreyer & Reinbold car comes together.

    1. Zachary HoughtonApril 9, 2012 at 6:36 PM

      I don't see Rice in Carpenter's 2nd car.

      Lloyd in a 2nd DRR would be great news. Alex is as solid as they come at Indy.

      The good news is, we find out probably in the next week when the entry list comes out. I do agree with you on your 35-36 drivers.

    2. There are ZERO more Honda motors for Indy-No Paul Tracy in a Honda. Chevy-maybe.

      Alex good in a Honda or Chevy.

      Oh there are far more than 35-36 DRIVERS. There are North of 100 drivers. There are only 34 spots.

    3. I agree with you on a surplus of drivers, JD, but I'm not sold on only 34 entries. It could be, but I see 35 as most likely, 36 max. I think we'll have the 3 extra Hondas I listed (14 total), plus another TBA Chevy for Ed Carpenter's team (15 total), plus the 6 Lotus teams.

  6. The Lack of Americans in the Race is Horrifying.
    Bloggers, fans, and the media NEED to address this to the powers that be.

    1. Probably not the blog for it, anonymous. I like American drivers, but like the international guys, too. We've got some great guys in the Mazda Road to Indy pipeline, both from the USA and other places. We'll see how they develop. Nothing happens overnight.

    2. The problem is that not many teams have enough money to provide extra cars, so there's actually an outside shot that we may not even have 33 cars.

    3. I'd say we're pretty solid on having at the worst 1-2 more concrete entries. There's at least enough solid entries that should be announced in the next two weeks to fill the field.