Official Indy 500 entry list is out, with your likely field of 33

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The official Indianapolis 500 entry list was released Sunday morning. It’s got 64 total cars, with 33 car/driver combinations – all bar 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier and rookie James Davison have a backup listed.

Lazier is one of six prior winners entered, and one of two from the 1990s with Jacques Villeneuve also on as he prepares for his first ‘500 start since that 1995 win. The other winners? Defending champion Tony Kanaan (2013), his teammate and defending series champion Scott Dixon (2008), and Roger Penske’s pair of Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002, 2009) and Juan Pablo Montoya (2000). With Dario Franchitti retired, Castroneves is the lone multiple ‘500 winner entered in this year’s race.

Davison is one of seven rookies entered. The others are full-season shoes Mikhail Aleshin, Jack Hawksworth and Carlos Huertas, the extra cars at Andretti Autosport (Kurt Busch) and A.J. Foyt Racing (Martin Plowman), and Indy Lights champion Sage Karam in the DRR Kingdom Racing Chevrolet. Andretti’s Carlos Munoz, a series rookie, is obviously not a 500 rookie after his runner-up finish in 2013.

The remaining Indy 500-only, for now, one-offs include the previously announced: Townsend Bell (KVRT), Oriol Servia (RLL, although this is race four for him this season), JR Hildebrand (Ed Carpenter Racing), Pippa Mann (Dale Coyne Racing) and Alex Tagliani (Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing).

As for a 34th car and the bumping potential, one driver exists for that role if he or she can strike a deal to add an extra car with an existing team.

Otherwise the 34th driver this year might just be E.J. Viso, who will fill-in as needed for James Hinchcliffe at Andretti’s team. Hinchcliffe was diagnosed with a concussion in yesterday’s Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

OFFICIAL 98TH INDIANAPOLIS 500 ENTRY LIST

Michael Andretti looking forward to new Australian Supercars venture

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If it seems like Michael Andretti is out to conquer the world, he is – kind of.

The former IndyCar star turned prolific team owner has won three of the last four Indianapolis 500s and five overall, second only to Roger Penske’s 16 Indy 500 triumphs.

Along the way, in addition to expanding his own IndyCar and Indy Lights operation, the son of Mario Andretti and the primary shareholder of Andretti Autosport has also branched out into Global RallyCross and Formula E racing in recent years.

And now, Andretti has further expanded his brand internationally, following Penske to the world down under — as in the world of Australian V8 Supercars.

Andretti has teamed with Supercars team owner Ryan Walkinshaw, along with veteran motorsports marketer and executive director of McLaren Technology Group and United Autosports owner and chairman, Zak Brown.

Together, the three have formed Walkinshaw Andretti United, based in suburban Melbourne, Australia. The new team kicks off the new season with the Adelaide 500 from March 1-4.

“It’s just extending our brand and putting it out there,” Andretti told NBC Sports. “The Supercars are such a great series.

“It all started with Zach Brown calling me and said ‘You have to talk to Ryan Walkinshaw. He’s got something interesting to talk to you about.’

“We talked and literally in like a half-hour, we said, ‘Let’s figure out how we’re going to make this work.’ And then Zack was like, ‘Hey, what about me?’ And then Zack came in as a partner and it’s cool now that we have the Walkinshaw Andretti United team.

“I’m really excited about that program, the guys at the shop are excited about it, we’ve been doing a lot of things to try and help it because it’s such a cool series and the cars are so cool.

“I went down there to Bathurst, which was to me one of the coolest tracks in the world. I wish I could have driven it, I really do. It looks like a blast.

“It’s amazing how big that series is when you go down there. It’s one of the biggest sports in Australia. It was just a great opportunity for us to extend our portfolio.”

Admittedly, Andretti had some extra incentive to want to get involved in the Supercars world: Penske joined forces with legendary Dick Johnson Racing in September 2014.

The organization came together quickly and the rebranded DJR Team Penske went on to win the 2017 V8 Supercars championship.

“Roger was down there the last few years,” Andretti said, adding that fact as incentive to get his own organization into the series. “So it’s cool to go race head-to-head with Roger. That was also in the back of our minds.”

This is no start-up venture for Andretti. The roots of the new venture began in 1990 as the Holden Racing Team, which went on to become one of the most successful organizations in Australian V8 Supercar racing, having won the drivers’ championship six times and the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship’s top race, the Bathurst 1000 (essentially Australia’s version of the Indy 500), seven times.

Last season, Holden Racing team morphed into Triple Eight Race Engineering and was renamed Mobil 1 HSV Racing.

And now the company has been renamed once again for the 2018 campaign under the Walkinshaw Andretti United banner.

The team will be composed of two Holden ZB Commodores with drivers James Courtney and Scott Pye, as well as a Porsche 911 GT3-R in the Australian GT championship.

What’s next for Andretti’s motorsports portfolio? Right now, it’s pretty full, but you can bet running for championships from Australia (Supercars) to globally (GRC) to Indianapolis (Indy 500) to the U.S. (Verizon IndyCar Series) are at the top of this year’s list.