INDIANAPOLIS — Not that it was really ever in doubt, I wrote extensively that we’d get to 33 entries for this months 106th Running of the Indianapolis 500 (11 a.m. ET, NBC, INDYCAR Radio Network) but with the announcement that Stefan Wilson will be back in the race for a second straight year with Cusick and this time a partnership too with DragonSpeed, here we are.
Now, will we see any more cars entered to create bumping?
Not likely, but there’s still a possibility as the Top Gun/RC Enerson saga that’s on going. There’s everything there to run. A chassis, an engine, all the parts, etc. That’s why while I’m not sold on this entry happening, but I’m also not closing the door on it either and them just all the sudden settle and show up.
They didn’t test last April either and showed up in May to make an attempt at making the race. Then you have the Honda car just sitting there. Vasser Sullivan has a car, an engine, an engineering trailer, etc too. They just don’t want to use it as a standalone team.
For a while, it was assumed this was going to be used but now that it’s not, it left a lot of Honda teams scrambling. It’s a good ride just sitting there unused. I mean it qualified 11th last year and finished 4th in 2020, so it has speed in it if it lands in the right set of hands. It’s just too late to do so.
Chip Ganassi Racing, Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan Racing and Meyer Shank Racing are tapped out but that doesn’t stop Andretti Autosport from running a sixth or even Dale Coyne Racing/Rick Ware Racing getting a third.
Really, this car was with DCR last year anyways.
DCR ran three cars at Indy in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019 and 2020 before scaling back to two in 2021. They did attempt four cars in 2018 but one of them (Pippa Mann) didn’t make the field. So, just running two cars once in the last 7 years make it viable for them to run a third if they choose.
Andretti ran six cars last year so could in theory do so again. They’ve actually ran 6 cars here in 3 of the last 6 years (2017, 2018, 2021). They ran 5 cars in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2019 and 2020.
I doubt this Honda gets used but if it does, Andretti or DCR would be the ones to jump on it.
That’s why this entry list could end right back up to 35 which is why I’m not totally closing the door on bumping either even though it seems very unlikely.
As far as where the cars from last year went?
Each manufacturer has enough for 18 cars/engines each. Right now, Chevy is using 16 of their 18. Penske, AMSP, ECR and AJ Foyt Racing have 3 each while Dreyer & Reinbold Racing has 2. That’s 14. JHR has 1 and so does this new entry. That’s 16.
As far as how we got there for the bowties?
Paretta wanted to run more races last year and use it again for 2022 but Juncos needed it back. See, Juncos owned the chassis but Penske leased it from them and handed the keys over to Paretta for the Month of May. Then, Juncos found a partner in Hollinger and formed Juncos Hollinger Racing. They needed their car back.
That’s why Juncos is on the list and Paretta is not.
Then, Carlin sold their car that Max Chilton used over the last several years to Juncos Hollinger this offseason. That car is sitting idle.
AJ Foyt Racing and Team Penske each scaled back from 4 cars to 3 but Dreyer & Reinbold Racing added 1. Throw in Top Gun’s still sitting in litigation and you get 16 Chevy engines and why 2 aren’t being used. JHR and Top Gun have them.
A 4th car for Foyt made no sense this year. It never works for them when they do. They ran 4 cars in 1985 (1 didn’t make it), 1987, 1996 (1 didn’t make it), 2000 (1 didn’t make it) and last year (1 didn’t make it). In the 5 years of showing up to Indy with 4 cars, 4 of them 1 of the 4 didn’t make it. So, why stretch yourself thin?
So, that 4th car from last year which right now is operating as the road/street course car for the No. 11 Dallara-Chevrolet will now be rebranded to the No. 25 Dallara-Chevrolet for the new joint Cusick/DragonSpeed entry.
For Honda, Andretti scaled from 6 to 5 but Ganassi went up from 3 to 4. The others stayed the same with VSR holding onto their car/engine still but willing to give it up to the right buyer.
The final piece to this puzzle is for Juncos and Foyt on the Chevy side and anyone else on the Honda side, there’s just not enough people out there to run these cars. The cars are there. The engines are there. If there were enough people, Juncos and Foyt could run those cars. There’s just no one there to help.
Same for the Honda teams. I’m sure Andretti would be able to figure out a 6th team again, but who will pit the car? Who will be the engineer? With both IMSA and NASCAR both expanding too, the amount of people to work on the cars are getting slimmer.
Chevrolet (16) – 2 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 in the 33.
- 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.
- Cusick/DragonSpeed (1) – Stefan Wilson will be in the No. 25 for them.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
Notable Non Rookie Drivers Available
Ryan Hunter-Reay — 14 straight Indy starts, best finish 1st (2014), has 3 top 10’s in his last 4 tries including 5 of the last 9 years. RHR has 4 top 10 starting spots in the last 6 years including 5th in 2020 and 7th last year.
James Hinchcliffe — 9 starts, best finish 6th (2012), 3 top 11’s in his last 5 starts. Pole winner in 2016. Made the Fast Nine in 2020.
Sebastien Bourdais — 9 starts, best finish 7th (2014). 2 of last 3 attempts he qualified in the Fast 9 and was on a pole run before his crash in qualifying in 2017 or this would be 3 of the last 4.
Charlie Kimball — 10 starts, best finish 3rd (2015). Was the 4th Foyt car last year and a DNQ. All 10 starts were consecutive prior to last year’s miss. Had 4 top 10’s in his last 6 Indy tries prior.
Oriol Servia – 11 starts, best finish 4th (2012), last start came in 2019
James Davison – 6 starts, best finish 12th (2019), last start came in 2020. 4 of his last 5 starts came with DCR as he always showed up unexpectedly and qualified the car in the race.
Max Chilton – 5 starts, best finish 4th (2017). He led the most laps in that 2017 race but has qualified 20th or worse in 4 of his 5 tries.
Spencer Pigot – 5 starts, best finish 14th (2019). 2 of last 3 he made the Fast 9 and qualified in the top 2 Rows at that.
Zach Veach – 4 starts, best finish 15th (2020)
Oliver Askew – 1 start (2020) – finished 30th. Won the 2019 Freedom 100
Ed Jones — 4 starts, best finish 3rd (2017). Among his 4 appearances, they came with 3 different teams. Qualified in top 11 in 3 of the 4 years including last year.
Pietro Fittipaldi – 1 start (2021) – finished 25th. Qualified 13th as a rookie and being a Haas test driver, could he come back over with F1 in Monaco?
Kyle Kaiser – 2 starts, best finish 29th (2018). Both with Juncos.