INDIANAPOLIS — The focus right now may be on the start of the 2021 NTT IndyCar Series season last weekend at the Barber Motorsports Park, but part of our attention is always to May with the annual Indianapolis 500. This year’s race will take place in 41 days. With that said, we have now officially returned to bumping again in order to make the 105th Running on May 30.
Due to the pandemic last year, we had 33 cars for 33 spots. Now, for the first time since 2019, we have 34 cars for 33 spots with more to come.
Last week, JR Hildebrand became the 33rd car entered in a fourth car brought out by AJ Foyt Racing. That car didn’t test in the two day session at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Another car not on the official entry list yet did though. That car was Dreyer & Reinbold Racing’s No. 24 Chevrolet which was being driven by Sage Karam.
Coincidentally enough, Hildebrand was Karam’s teammate at DRR for Indy the last couple of years. But, DRR is going to go back to a focus on a singular entry which allowed Hildebrand to go race for Foyt and Karam to come back to DRR for the seventh time in eight years at Indy.
That brings us to 34 cars on the entry list with 33 drivers. The only car entered without a driver in the No. 52 Honda for Rick Ware/Dale Coyne Racing with all signs pointing to this being Cody Ware’s ride. Ware, completed Rookie Orientation in that ride at Indy to go along with testing the car at Texas prior. James Davison was rumored to be in play for that seat but he’s since announced that he won’t be running at Indy this year but rather racing in the Coca-Cola 600 for RWR. Ware, isn’t among the four drivers for Charlotte, which leads us even more to believe that’s all due to him being in Indy that day for the ‘500.
With that said, that’s all the ride accounted for with a couple of options left.
We know Andretti Autosport is likely bringing out a sixth car with several drivers in play for it. There’s also the long rumored team at Top Gun Racing who keep saying that they’re entering the race with RC Enerson but for whatever reason, haven’t officially announced their intention of doing so.
Right now, Honda and Chevy each have 17 cars entered but Andretti is all but certain to bring out a sixth car which would push Honda’s allotment to 18. That means Chevy would be the one in play for Top Gun, but Chevy officials have not confirmed yet that they’re pairing with Top Gun.
It’s getting late in the game and I’m honestly not sure what they’re waiting for. I get waiting to see how many fans that can come, but either you’re in or you’re out. By waiting longer and longer, the aspirations of showing up to race are slimmer and slimmer.
Nothing against this team, but they’re a victim of past teams that have expressed Indy entries only to flame out and never show. They can say they have cars and engines and sponsors and a driver in place, but until they make this “official” I’m going to wait to count them because I can say that they have not “officially” entered this year’s race yet and it’s mid April.
If they do end up working it out, that’s 36 cars. Carlin has ran a second car in the past and was working on that again for this year, but I’ve since heard that those plans have fizzled out with the new intention of running just Max Chilton in the No. 59 Chevrolet. Never say never though as if someone with funding shows up, then they’d run the second car. Right now, the funding is short for that program which is why Carlin is focusing on 1 car.
If they do show up, they’d be the 37th entry, but is Chevy willing to supply 19 engines?
Buhl Citrone ran in conjunction with RLL last year but that isn’t happening this May. Are they still around anymore? Do they team up with an existing team?
35 cars is the safe bet for May with potential for 36-37.
For those drivers that are on it, we know that every Indy 500 winner since 2013 is here again. There’s 13 Indy 500 wins already on the entry list. Also, the entire top 14 of last years finishing order is back. Plus, you add a two-time Indy 500 champion back to the fold that wasn’t here a year ago too.
That could make this one of the toughest fields to get into this 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 weren’t 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 this year with the best field to ever grace us at the Brickyard.
With the 34 cars on the list, 25 of them are full time and the other 9 part time rides.
AJ Foyt Racing has Hildebrand and Charlie Kimball as their part time drivers. Rick Ware Racing will have an additional car with DCR again. Pietro Fittipaldi will drive one of them, the full time entry in a shared role with Romain Grosjean with the second car a TBA at the moment. ECR has a third for Daly. AA has a fifth for Marco Andretti and a potential sixth coming soon. Arrow McLaren SP has hired Juan Pablo Montoya in a third ride. Paretta Autosport brings Simona de Silvestro and DRR with Karam.
That’s 33 drivers for 34 confirmed cars.
Entries So Far
Team Penske (4) – Josef Newgarden (No. 2), Scott McLaughlin (No. 3), Will Power No. 12), Simon Pagenaud (No. 22)
AJ Foyt Racing (4) – JR Hildebrand (No. 1), Dalton Kellett (No. 4), Charlie Kimball (No. 11), Sebastien Bourdais (No. 14)
Arrow McLaren SP (3) – Pato O’Ward (No. 5), Felix Rosenqvist (No. 7), Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 68)
Ed Carpenter Racing (3) – Ed Carpenter (No. 20), Rinus VeeKay (No. 21), Conor Daly (Number TBA)
Carlin (1) – Max Chilton (No. 59)
Paretta Autosport (1) – Simona de Silvestro (No. 16)
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (1) – Sage Karam (No. 24)
Andretti Autosport (5) – Colton Herta (No. 26), Alexander Rossi (No. 27), Ryan Hunter-Reay (No. 28), James Hinchcliffe (No. 29), Marco Andretti (No. 98)
Chip Ganassi Racing (4) – Marcus Ericsson (No. 8), Scott Dixon (No. 9), Alex Palou (No. 10), Tony Kanaan (No. 48)
Dale Coyne Racing (3) – Ed Jones (No. 18 Honda), Pietro Fittipaldi (No. 51 Honda), No. 52 Honda (open)
Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan Racing (3) – Graham Rahal (No. 15), Takuma Sato (No. 30), Santino Ferrucci (No. 45 Honda)
Meyer Shank Racing (2) – Helio Castroneves (No. 06), Jack Harvey (No. 60)
Part Time (5)
No. 88 (or No. 25) Honda – The car is there, do they have the funding to go back to part time with maybe and Indy only entry? Could be part of the additional Andretti entry.
Top Gun Racing? – Was supposed to show up last year but ran out of time. Do they try again this May? They say all the right things but have no made official announcement for them or RC Enerson yet.
Carlin – They own a 2nd car but do they use it? Time is running out.
DRR – 2nd car (ran this car for 3 straight years) but word is that they’re focusing on 1 car this May.
Buhl Cirtrone – ran Pigot with RLL last year. Do they run on their own or team up with another existing team for an extra car?
Notable Non Rookie Drivers Available
Oriol Servia – 11 starts, best finish 4th (2012), last start came in 2019
Spencer Pigot – 5 starts, best finish 14th (2019)
Zach Veach – 4 starts, best finish 15th (2020)
Oliver Askew – 1 starts (2020) – finished 30th. Won the 2019 Freedom 100