2015 Indianapolis 500 entry update, Round 1


With the first race of the Verizon IndyCar Series season in the books, the next round of entry list stories you tend to focus on from that point is the Indianapolis 500 and the month of May.

Here’s where things stand at the moment, one month out from the opening day of oval aero kit testing on May 3, with confirmed and expected entries:


  • Team Penske (4): 1-Will Power, 2-Juan Pablo Montoya-W, 3-Helio Castroneves-W, 22-Simon Pagenaud. Four is plenty for Team Penske, as the team seeks its first ‘500 win since 2009.
  • KV Racing/KVSH Racing (3-4): 4-Stefano Coletti-R, 11-Sebastien Bourdais, 82-Bryan Clauson. Bourdais is a KVSH entry, Clauson a Byrd Racing with KVSH entry in his ‘500 return, and Coletti a KV entry. Team ran four cars last year and could do so again, although there’s only three confirmed cars right now.
  • Chip Ganassi Racing Teams (4): 8-Sage Karam, 9-Scott Dixon-W, 10-Tony Kanaan-W, 83-Charlie Kimball.  Karam has not yet been confirmed beyond St. Petersburg, but would figure to race CGR’s fourth car for the month of May.
  • CFH Racing (3): 20-Ed Carpenter, 21-Josef Newgarden. The team will add a third car beyond the all-American pairing of Carpenter and Newgarden, who will be in the renumbered No. 21 entry. JR Hildebrand is the leading candidate to drive, and was spotted in the team’s pit at St. Petersburg.
  • Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (1): 24-TBA. The Dennis Reinbold-led team is expected to join the party once again, albeit with a different car number (22 has since gone to Team Penske for Pagenaud) and with an Indianapolis 500 veteran set to make his team return.
  • Lazier Partners Racing (1): 91-Buddy Lazier-W. The 1996 Indianapolis 500 champion is expected to return with his family operation for the third consecutive year, although the program has not been formally announced.

HONDA (15-17)

  • Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (3): 5-James Hinchcliffe, 7-James Jakes. “Team James” will have another teammate for the month of May, but per the Indianapolis Star‘s Curt Cavin, it won’t be 1995 Indianapolis 500 champion Jacques Villeneuve.
  • A.J. Foyt Enterprises (2): 14-Takuma Sato, 41-Jack Hawksworth. Foyt’s usually been a team that adds a second car for the month of May but with Hawksworth now added for the full season, this year won’t have an extra car.
  • Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (1-2): 15-Graham Rahal. Right now, RLL would be the only single-car lineup for the month of May, and it stands to reason the team would add a second as they have in past years. There’s been no word on whether that will happen, though.
  • Dale Coyne Racing (2-3): 18-Carlos Huertas, 19-TBA. Ever the survivor, Dale Coyne has expanded to three cars each of the last two Indianapolis 500s. Provided the i’s are dotted and t’s crossed, he’d likely do so again for race veteran Pippa Mann. It’s the second car – one driven by Francesco Dracone in the opening four races – that has the driver question mark at this juncture.
  • Andretti Autosport (5): 25-Justin Wilson, 26-Carlos Munoz, 27-Marco Andretti, 28-Ryan Hunter-Reay-W, 29-Simona de Silvestro. Michael Andretti’s squad will have at least five cars, with de Silvestro confirmed Thursday alongside the previously announced four. While some talk of a potential sixth emerged at St. Petersburg, since multiple names have been floated in connection with an Andretti seat, another extra car is highly unlikely at this juncture.
  • Bryan Herta Autosport (2): 97-Jay Howard, 98-Gabby Chaves-R. Announced in November, Howard would be making his IndyCar return for the first time in four years as BHA expands to two cars for the month of May.

With throaty roar, NASCAR Next Gen Camaro is taking Le Mans by storm on global stage

Le Mans 24 Hour Race - Car Parade
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

LE MANS, France — The V8 engine of the NASCAR Chevrolet Camaro has a distinct growl that cannot go unnoticed even among the most elite sports cars in the world at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

When the Hendrick Motorsports crew fired up the car inside Garage 56, NASCAR chairman Jim France broke into a huge grin and gave a thumbs up.

“The only guy who didn’t cover his ears,” laughed seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson.

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France has been waiting since 1962 – the year his father, NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., brought him to his first 24 Hours of Le Mans – to hear the roar of a stock car at the most prestigious endurance race in the world.

A path finally opened when NASCAR developed its Next Gen car, which debuted last year. France worked out a deal to enter a car in a specialized “Innovative Car” class designed to showcase technology and development. The effort would be part of NASCAR’s 75th celebration and it comes as Le Mans marks its 100th.

Once he had the approval, France persuaded Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet and Goodyear – NASCAR’s winningest team, manufacturer and tire supplier – to build a car capable of running the twice-around-the-clock race.

The race doesn’t start until Saturday, but NASCAR’s arrival has already been wildly embraced and France could not be more thrilled.

“Dad’s vision, to be able to follow it, it took awhile to follow it up, and my goal was to outdo what he accomplished,” France told The Associated Press. “I just hope we don’t fall on our ass.”

The car is in a class of its own and not racing anyone else in the 62-car field. But the lineup of 2010 Le Mans winner Mike Rockenfeller, 2009 Formula One champion Jenson Button and Johnson has been fast enough; Rockenfeller put down a qualifying lap that was faster than every car in the GTE AM class by a full three seconds.

The Hendrick Motorsports crew won its class in the pit stop competition and finished fifth overall as the only team using a manual jack against teams exclusively using air jacks. Rick Hendrick said he could not be prouder of the showing his organization has made even before race day.

“When we said we’re gonna do it, I said, ‘Look, we can’t do this half-assed. I want to be as sharp as anybody out there,” Hendrick told AP. “I don’t want to be any less than any other team here. And just to see the reaction from the crowd, people are so excited about this car. My granddaughter has been sending me all these TikTok things that fans are making about NASCAR being at Le Mans.”

This isn’t NASCAR’s first attempt to run Le Mans. The late France Sr. brokered a deal in 1976, as America celebrated its bicentennial, to bring two cars to compete in the Grand International class and NASCAR selected the teams. Herschel McGriff and his son, Doug, drove a Wedge-powered, Olympia Beer-sponsored Dodge Charger, and Junie Donlavey piloted a Ford Torino shared by Richard Brooks and Dick Hutcherson.

Neither car came close to finishing the race. McGriff, now 95 and inducted into NASCAR’s Hall of Fame in January, is in Le Mans as France’s guest, clad head-to-toe in the noticeable Garage 56 uniforms.

“I threw a lot of hints that I would like to come. And I’ve been treated as royalty,” McGriff said. “This is unbelievable to me. I recognize nothing but I’m anxious to see everything. I’ve been watching and seeing pictures and I can certainly see the fans love their NASCAR.”

The goal is to finish the full race Sunday and, just maybe, beat cars from other classes. Should they pull off the feat, the driver trio wants its own podium celebration.

“I think people will talk about this car for a long, long time,” said Rockenfeller, who along with sports car driver Jordan Taylor did much of the development alongside crew chief Chad Knaus and Greg Ives, a former crew chief who stepped into a projects role at Hendrick this year.

“When we started with the Cup car, we felt already there was so much potential,” Rockenfeller said. “And then we tweaked it. And we go faster, and faster, at Le Mans on the SIM. But you never know until you hit the real track, and to be actually faster than the SIM. Everybody in the paddock, all the drivers, they come up and they are, ‘Wow, this is so cool,’ and they were impressed by the pit stops. We’ve overachieved, almost, and now of course the goal is to run for 24 hours.”

The car completed a full 24-hour test at Sebring, Florida, earlier this year, Knaus said, and is capable of finishing the race. Button believes NASCAR will leave a lasting impression no matter what happens.

“If you haven’t seen this car live yet, it’s an absolute beast,” Button said. “When you see and hear it go by, it just puts a massive smile on your face.”

For Hendrick, the effort is the first in his newfound embrace of racing outside NASCAR, the stock car series founded long ago in the American South. Aside from the Le Mans project, he will own the Indy car that Kyle Larson drives for Arrow McLaren in next year’s Indianapolis 500 and it will be sponsored by his automotive company.

“If you’d have told me I’d be racing at Le Mans and Indianapolis within the same year, I’d never have believed you,” Hendrick told AP. “But we’re doing both and we’re going to do it right.”

Le Mans 24 Hour Race - Car Parade
Fans gather around the NASCAR Next Gen Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 that is the Garage 56 entry for the 100th 24 Hours of Le Mans at the Circuit de la Sarthe (Chris Graythen/Getty Images).

General Motors is celebrating the achievement with a 2024 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Garage 56 Edition and only 56 will be available to collectors later this year.

“Even though Chevrolet has been racing since its inception in 1911, we’ve never done anything quite like Garage 56,” said GM President Mark Reuss. “A NASCAR stock car running at Le Mans is something fans doubted they would see again.”

The race hasn’t even started yet, but Hendrick has enjoyed it so much that he doesn’t want the project to end.

“It’s like a shame to go through all this and do all this, and then Sunday it’s done,” Hendrick said. “It’s just really special to be here.”