32 drivers, 32 cars so far for Indy 500, where it stands with what’s next

INDIANAPOLIS — Over 150k of tickets were stuffed into blue envelopes on the west side of Indianapolis on Thursday and mailed out to anxiously awaiting customers in all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and 36 countries around the world as race fans eagerly await Indy 500 Race Day on Sunday, May 29.

As we sit right now, we just picked up our 32nd driver for the field with JR Hildebrand being announced as the pilot of the No. 11 Chevrolet for AJ Foyt Racing during all ovals for the 2022 NTT INDYCAR Series campaign. Tatiana Calderon is driving that same car on all road/street courses herself to complete the program. Hildebrand, is back for a second straight year with Foyt as he’ll be joining Kyle Kirkwood (No. 14 Chevrolet) and Dalton Kellett (No. 4 Chevrolet) in this year’s race.

The last two signings for the Month of May prior to him were Ed Carpenter (No. 33 Chevrolet) for his own team at Ed Carpenter Racing and Marco Andretti (No. 98 Honda) for his family team of Andretti Autosport.

That’s 32 car and driver combos for 32 spots. What’s left?

We’re going for a max of 36 cars again. 18 each for Honda and Chevrolet. Right now, Chevy has 15 engines spoken for with three left for the taking. Honda has less room with 17 of their 18 accounted for.

Essentially, there’s four rides left (3 Chevrolet, 1 Honda). Who gets them? Will they even all get filled.

Last Fall, 33 cars seemed imminent. Heck, we were heading towards upwards of 40 entries. But, with 36 engine and chassis packages available plus at the time new engine regulations coming for 2023, it didn’t make dollars and cents to expand past that magic number of 36.

However, now that we’re closing in on the Month of May, it’s basically stalled out. We expected these recent announcements. It’s the final ones that get tricky.

Last year, Top Gun, Paretta and Carlin all had cars at Indy as single car entries. Now, the aspirations seem lower and lower by the week.

Juncos has basically taken over Carlin’s operation but they don’t seem willing to run that car so that takes you from 36 to 35. Paretta is still lacking the funding and resources to make their program work. While they have some, it’s not enough.

Top Gun lost most of their equipment as driver RC Enerson took it with him. He’s struggling to put those pieces together to make an attempt so that’s now takes you from 35 to 34.

AJ Foyt Racing ran a fourth car last year but I sense that’s not happening this. That’s 34 to 33…

Dale Coyne Racing and Rick Ware Racing had a second joint entry last year for three overall DCR cars. There’s been no word yet on if they’ll do so again. That’s the final Honda piece of the puzzle here.

Ganassi expanded to five which forced Andretti to scale back from six to five themselves. RLL and MSR may have expanded full time programs but they each had the same Indy entries this year as last too making that 18th Honda engine being the one from the DCR/RWR camp.

That’s No. 33. I hear Honda wants to run it but who gets it?

Then, do we eclipse that number? Can Chevy find suitors for the three engines available? They are out there but part of the problem is 2 of the 3 aren’t fully able to be used.

Chevrolet (15) – 3 Left

  • Team Penske (3) – Josef Newgarden, Will Power, Scott McLaughlin are back as they’re scaling down from four cars to three.
  • Arrow McLaren SP (3) – Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist are back full time. Juan Pablo Montoya is in the No. 6 Chevrolet for the Month of May only.
  • Ed Carpenter Racing (3) – Rinus VeeKay is back in the 21. Conor Daly will be in the 20 while Ed Carpenter will be in the third seat for Indy.
  • AJ Foyt Racing (3) – Kyle Kirkwood will be in the 14 full time. Dalton Kellett will return to the seat of the 4 car. Tatiana Calderon will race the 11 car on all road/street courses with JR Hildebrand now on ovals.
  • Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (2) – They’ll have two cars this May for Indy only and Sage Karam (No. 24) and Santino Ferrucci (No. 23) will drive them.
  • Juncos Hollinger Racing (1) – Callum Ilott will be in the car again as an Indy rookie.

Is Paretta back or was that a one off year? Is Foyt going to snag a four entry? They did last year but one of the cars failed to make the show. What about Carlin? Rumor is they sold everything to Juncos and are done. The caveat is, Juncos Hollinger sounds like they may not be willing to run a second car for Indy though. Top Gun says they’ll be back but it will be without RC Enerson.




Honda (17) – 1 Engine Left

  • Chip Ganassi Racing (5) – All five drivers (Scott Dixon, Alex Palou, Marcus Ericsson, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Kanaan) return but with Jimmie Johnson racing full time, they needed a fifth car for Tony Kanaan. That car and engine package comes from Andretti Autosport’s inventory of six that they had last year.
  • Andretti Autosport (5) – They’ll run four cars full time (Colton Herta, Alexander Rossi, Romain Grosjean and Devlin DeFrancesco) with Marco Andretti as Indy only.
  • Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (3) – Graham Rahal, Jack Harvey and Christian Lundgaard make up this team as they’ll expand from two full time cars to three.
  • Dale Coyne Racing (2) – HMD Racing replaces Vasser Sullivan in the 18 ride and brings David Malukas with them. Rick Ware is back on the 51 Honda and will have Takuma Sato. Is the 52 seat back?
  • Meyer Shank Racing (2) – Here’s another expansion with them growing to two full time cars now too. Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud) will drive them.

Potential Rides:

  • Rick Ware Racing/Dale Coyne Racing – They had the No. 52 Honda last year and the only reason one Honda is left for the taking is due to this ride not being solidified yet. Does this one become available or does the Honda engine end up with someone else. I don’t foresee Ganassi going to a sixth car and RLL moving to a fourth team isn’t likely either. MSR is set a two. So, the only real place this ends up is RWR/DCR, Andretti or a team like Paretta.
  • Paretta – They have the ambition to come back. Can they find the full budget to make this work? Roger Penske can’t really afford for this to be a one-off so helping them get one of the three Chevrolet engines seems like the best option. The thing is, I’ve heard Penske also hasn’t necessarily been involved either. That opens the door for that 18th Honda engine.
  • Top Gun – RC Enerson has everything from last year but the team still says they’ll be back in May. The question is, are they seriously going to be able to pull this off? They had a Chevy engine package last season.
  • AJ Foyt Racing – I don’t really see them stretching themselves thin this year on a fourth car but if the opportunity arose and an engine is just sitting there, never say never.

Alliances

  • Cusick – They’re after an alliance to team with someone to bring Stefan Wilson a ride again. They teamed with Andretti in 2021 for Wilson in the No. 25 Honda in the Indianapolis 500. It seems as if even though engines are there for the taking and Cusick having a budget to run on their own, that they’re eyeing a merger.
  • Vasser Sullivan – Merging with a fifth Ganassi car is the most sense. They’re not going to run on their own this year.
  • Carlin – It seems like they’ve already moved into Juncos’ building so expect this deal to get announced somewhat soon. They kicker here is, does Carlin stay involved or are they done all together.

Free Agent List

Ryan Hunter-Reay

Sebastien Bourdais (part time)

James Hinchcliffe (part time)

Charlie Kimball

Max Chilton

Ed Jones

Spencer Pigot

One comment

  1. Don’t forget the rumor that the 18th Honda is being held for something special, whatever that means. Nascar driver???

    Like

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