INDIANAPOLIS — It’s never too early to start looking ahead at the upcoming Indianapolis 500. Brighter days are coming at some point, right? When we are in the midst of a global pandemic while also in the dog days of winter, why not think of warmer thoughts like a sun filled day in May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Yes, we may still be a little more than five months away from the 105th Running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, but with an announcement like we saw on Wednesday, you can’t help but to think forward to what’s ahead.
Juan Pablo Montoya will race for Arrow McLaren SP in their third car for the 2021 race. He essentially is taking over the Fernando Alonso car. That’s a splash still. Nothing against Alonso, but he was facing a tall task at Indy. Montoya, has won two of his five starts in that race and despite not having raced in it since 2017, I feel like he’s going to have a say in who wins next year’s race.
You also have Helio Castroneves in the second Meyer Shank Racing car which has an alliance with Andretti Autosport. Then, you get Tony Kanaan back in a Chip Ganassi Racing entry again. Does Jimmie Johnson jump in the fray in a fifth car at CGR?
Also, we have Scott McLaughlin joining Team Penske too and Sebastien Bourdais back again, this time with AJ Foyt Racing.
Just look at that star power. Montoya, Castroneves, Kanaan, Bourdais, McLaughlin and maybe Johnson?
That doesn’t even mention the fact that you’ll have Alexander Rossi, Colton Herta, Takuma Sato, Graham Rahal, Josef Newgarden, Will Power, Simon Pagenaud, Scott Dixon, Alex Palou, Marcus Ericsson, Ed Carpenter, Rinus VeeKay, Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist already signed.
Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and James Hinchcliffe should find rides too.
Every Indy 500 winner since 2013 is here again. There’s 12 Indy 500 wins already on the entry list and 13 when Hunter-Reay is confirmed.
Now, with that said, where does this land on the car count factor? Andretti is planning on five full time cars again. If the fifth isn’t James Hinchcliffe, does he find funding to make six at Indy?
MSR is set at two. CGR will be set at four unless Johnson decides to run. RLL has run three lately with an alliance. Do they do so again? Dale Coyne Racing will have at least two, but do they get a third for Indy again?
Penske is set at four. McLaren/SPM should stand pat at three. ECR has had three lately and I expect them to have a third again. Foyt will have at least two. DRR should show back up with two again and what about Carlin?
It’s going to be the new teams that propel us to a bump day but to what extent. Honda has 15 at the very minimum right now with the potential for 18-19. Chevrolet has 13 at their minimum but can grow to 17 or 18.
This field may get to 35-38 but that’s going to be a high quality 35-38 too. This could be one of the toughest fields to get into next year in the 105 year history of this event. I know the glory years saw more cars go home than starting spots, but their depth from top to the bottom wasn’t like this. The speeds were as close to each other then either. The disparity from first to last over four laps now can be separated by a slight bobble on one of your laps.
Throw in high class drivers in every ride and you get what should be a memorable Month of May next year with the best field to ever grace us at the Brickyard.