“I think we can pretty much guarantee there will be 33 cars in the field,” says Mark Miles. “I wouldn’t rule out maybe even one more beyond that” A look here

INDIANAPOLIS — Weather permitting, the NTT INDYCAR Series will have 32 cars on track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this week for the two-day test. Notice, I said 32 not 33. The field is not yet full as of mid April. However, expect things to change here soon.

There’s been rumors of a 33rd entry on the horizon and CEO of Penske Entertainment Corporation, Mark Miles put cold water on the fire of the possibility of not having a full field of 11 Rows of 3 on May 29.

“Let me just say a lot has been written about having secured 32 cars. I think we can pretty much guarantee there will be 33 cars in the field,” Miles said on Tuesday afternoon when announcing the Paretta Autosport deal at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I wouldn’t rule out maybe even one more beyond that.

“I think it’s going to be a full field and I think it’s going to be a hugely exciting race.”

So, where does that car come from? It’s likely from the Juncos Hollinger Racing stable. They purchased Carlin and have everything in place for that car to be run. However, it’s not likely to come from them. It would be them leasing it out.

JHR doesn’t have the man power to run that team. They barely have enough for their Road to Indy program. With that said, who does?

Team Penske is tapped out at 3. So is Arrow McLaren SP. So is Ed Carpenter Racing. Each have 3 cars ready to go but no real way to run a fourth. Dreyer & Reinbold has 2 cars and no possible way to go to a 3rd.

So, does that leave AJ Foyt Racing? They ran four cars last year and are housed right down the street from Juncos. The thing is, they’ve not always had the best of luck getting all four cars in the race. In fact, Foyt 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?

If there’s only 33 cars on the entry list though, they can. Charlie Kimball makes the most sense here.

You also have another Chevy car sitting there ready to go with the Top Gun/RC Enerson saga. It’s also ready to go. That could be car 34.

Honda has 1 entry ready too. Vasser Sullivan owns an engine and chassis. Everything is set to run. They just don’t want to use it as a standalone team. I still can sense that this car could be used. 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.

That’s 35 cars now too.

As far as Honda teams, who’s able to expand?

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.

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.

Cusick partnered with them last year and they say they have a budget ready to run by themselves this year. The thing is, time has ran out so they’ve been exploring a partnership. Is this the other most viable one in the paddock right now?

Can Andretti or Coyne make an alliance happen with Cusick and take that final Honda engine? Seems like if they want it to badly enough they will figure out a way.

This entry list could end right back up to 35 by a month from now which is why I’m not closing the door on bumping either.

As far as where the cars from last year went?

Paretta gave theirs back to Juncos. Carlin, sold theirs to Juncos. Penske scaled back a car but DRR also expanded a car. Top Gun/Enerson’s still have theirs. Foyt’s 4th is the only one out there left.

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.

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 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.

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. 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:

Cusick – They have a driver and money but need an alliance to get a car and engine. Andretti, DCR/RWR or Foyt could make this happen.

Rick Ware Racing/Dale Coyne Racing – They can get their hands on that Honda so long as a driver with funding brings money for it.

Top Gun – Never ruling out a surprise entry. They did so last year.

AJ Foyt Racing – A 4th car makes no sense for them but if Cusick has money and a driver and a 33rd spot is sitting there, I wouldn’t rule it out. Foyt still, isn’t likely to expand back to a fourth. 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?

Team Penske – If all else fails, he could give Ricardo Juncos a call to lease that 2nd car/engine from him and put a driver in it.

Ryan Hunter-Reay (pictured) is a former Indy 500 champion and a free agent for May – Photo Credit: INDYCAR Media Site

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. Make 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.

Stefan Wilson — Tied to Cusick. 3 starts, best finish 15th (2018). Ran with Andretti in 2018 and an alliance car with Andretti/Cusick last year.

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 bein a Haas test driver, could he come back over with F1 in Monaco?

Kyle Kaiser – 2 starts, best finish 29th (2018). Both with Juncos.

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