2015 Indianapolis 500 entry update, Round 2

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A handful more changes have occurred to this year’s Indianapolis 500 entry list over the last couple weeks. Here’s what’s developed since our first update earlier this month:

WHAT’S BEEN CONFIRMED

  • Chip Ganassi Racing Teams: The confirmation of Sebastian Saavedra in an AFS-backed fifth car for the month of May was a surprise. Notable in the team release was the phrase “with an additional race at the Indianapolis 500 through a fifth entry overseen by CGRT,” not necessarily confirming it as a CGRT-entered car. Watch the team name for Saavedra’s entry for the race. Sage Karam has been formally confirmed in the team’s fourth car, the No. 8 car.
  • CFH Racing: JR Hildebrand (No. 6 Preferred Freezer Chevrolet) joins the all-American pairing of Ed Carpenter and Josef Newgarden for the month of May. No word on if a photo shoot involving “Old Glory” and/or a bald eagle will follow.
  • Dreyer & Reinbold/Kingdom Racing: NBCSN IndyCar analyst Townsend Bell is confirmed in Dennis Reinbold’s single No. 24 Robert Graham Chevrolet. The livery will be unveiled on the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis weekend, and the team will retain many of its same DRR personnel, including engineer Jeff Britton.
  • Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing: Veteran Oriol Servia will saddle up in the team’s second car for a second straight year.
  • Dale Coyne Racing: Pippa Mann will be back for her third straight Indianapolis 500, and second with Susan G. Komen. The identity of her teammates, however, is now a mystery.
  • KVSH/Jonathan Byrd’s Racing: Bryan Clauson will run the No. 88 for the team this year. The No. 82, the original number listed, was a placeholder.
  • Bryan Herta Autosport: Jay Howard’s second entry has been withdrawn, leaving BHA as the lone full-season team running a single car at the 500 for rookie Gabby Chaves.

WHAT’S STILL TBD

  • Dale Coyne Racing: As mentioned above, Mann is the only confirmed driver in what is still on target to be a three-car lineup for Coyne’s squad. Carlos Huertas and Francesco Dracone ran the opening two races, Rocky Moran Jr. and then Conor Daly filled out the No. 18 car in Long Beach, and Dracone is due to run the fourth of his four-race program at Barber. If one seat was already a question mark, now it’s two.
  • Honda’s potential 17th engine: Steve Eriksen, Honda Performance Development COO and vice president, said Honda is still on track to supply 17 engines at Indy. “Our plan from the very beginning has always been for 17 cars at Indy. We always planned to support more than half the field. At 17 cars, that’s a good number for us from a resource standpoint. Based on what I’m hearing from each of our teams, I fully expect we’ll be at 17 cars for the month of May. I’ve also heard Chevy’s at 17. So, if that’s true, that gives us at least one car for Bump Day.” The expected breakdown of Hondas as it stands is: 5 Andretti, 3 Schmidt Peterson, 3 Coyne, 2 RLL, 2 Foyt and 1 Herta. That would mean a 17th – if it happens – could go to a potential Foyt third car, which hasn’t been on the radar for a while.
  • Drivers in play: The five names linked to potential opportunities but currently without confirmed rides are Daly, James Davison, Ryan Briscoe, Alex Tagliani and Katherine Legge. The first two have one ‘500 start apiece, Legge has two and Briscoe and Tagliani is the best of the bunch in terms of experience and stat levels; both are past Indianapolis 500 polesitters. It’s possible to see up to three or perhaps four of those five in seats. Others are possible, but these five have been mentioned by several paddock insiders.

ENTRY LIST AS IT STANDS (Italics denote highly likely but not officially confirmed)

CHEVROLET (17)

  • Team Penske (4): 1-Will Power, 2-Juan Pablo Montoya-W, 3-Helio Castroneves-W, 22-Simon Pagenaud
  • KV Racing Technology (1): 4-Stefano Coletti-R
  • KVSH Racing (1): 11-Sebastien Bourdais
  • KVSH/Jonathan Byrd’s Racing (1): 88-Bryan Clauson
  • Chip Ganassi Racing Teams (5): 8-Sage Karam, 9-Scott Dixon-W, 10-Tony Kanaan-W, 83-Charlie Kimball, 17-Sebastian Saavedra (team name may be different)
  • CFH Racing (3): 6-JR Hildebrand, 20-Ed Carpenter, 21-Josef Newgarden
  • Dreyer & Reinbold/Kingdom Racing (1): 24-Townsend Bell
  • Lazier Partners Racing (1): 91-Buddy Lazier-W

HONDA (16-17)

  • Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (3): 5-James Hinchcliffe, 7-James Jakes, TBA-third car
  • A.J. Foyt Enterprises (2-3): 14-Takuma Sato, 41-Jack Hawksworth, TBA-possible third car
  • Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (2): 15-Graham Rahal, 16-Oriol Servia
  • Dale Coyne Racing (3): 18-TBA, 19-TBA, 63-Pippa Mann
  • Andretti Autosport (5): 25-Justin Wilson, 26-Carlos Munoz, 27-Marco Andretti, 28-Ryan Hunter-Reay-W, 29-Simona de Silvestro
  • Bryan Herta Autosport (1): 98-Gabby Chaves-R

Indianapolis Motor Speedway can have 10,000 fans for IndyCar races

Indianapolis Motor Speedway fans
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
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Indianapolis Motor Speedway will have crowds for its NTT IndyCar Series race weekend next month, the first time fans are allowed at the track this year.

The track announced Friday that up to 10,000 fans will be allowed in the grandstands daily from Oct. 1-4. The IndyCar Harvest GP race doubleheader will be held on the track’s road course Oct. 2-3.

IMS has played host to several events this year without fans, including the 104th Indianapolis 500 on Aug. 23 and a NASCAR-IndyCar weekend July 4-5 that included the Brickyard 400. Plans originally were made to have fans at the Indy 500 before reversing course a few weeks ahead of the race. In a letter last month, Roger Penske vowed that fans would return for the 2021 Indy 500.

“We can’t wait to see fans come through our gates for the first time in 2020,” IMS president Doug Boles said in a release. “They’ll be greeted by a vastly improved facility, featuring significant upgrades to the spectator experience. We’re also extremely grateful to have a presenting sponsor with the expertise and resources of GMR as we look to implement our detailed and comprehensive health and safety plan.”

Fans will undergo temperature screenings upon entry and also be required to wear face coverings at all times on property. The track said each attendee will receive a mask and bottle of hand sanitizer.

The Friday, Oct. 2 race will be shown at 3:30 p.m. ET on USA, and NBC will broadcast the Saturday, Oct. 3 race at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Here’s the release from Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020 – For the first time in 2020, Indianapolis Motor Speedway will welcome fans to the Racing Capital of the World for the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR weekend. Up to 10,000 spectators can be in the grandstands each day of racing action Oct. 1-4, per approval from the Marion County Public Health Department.

Tickets are available now via IMS.com and will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis.

The massive facility, which holds more than 300,000 people, will provide two spectator zones with up to 5,000 fans in each. The zones will be located in Turns 1 and 4 of the oval, offering strong sightlines of the road course. Strict health and safety rules will be in place, including the following:

  • Face coverings must be worn throughout the property at all times;
  • All fans will receive temperature screenings before gate entry;
  • Grandstand seats will be marked for distancing;
  • Attendees must use pre-assigned gates and remain in their designated zones.

Global Medical Response, the world leader in compassionate, quality emergency medical and patient relocation services, will be the presenting sponsor of the penultimate weekend of INDYCAR racing this season.

“We can’t wait to see fans come through our gates for the first time in 2020,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “They’ll be greeted by a vastly improved facility, featuring significant upgrades to the spectator experience. We’re also extremely grateful to have a presenting sponsor with the expertise and resources of GMR as we look to implement our detailed and comprehensive health and safety plan.”

The plan, which includes each attendee receiving a mask and a bottle of hand sanitizer upon entering the track, was developed in consultation with state and local health officials.

This event weekend is highlighted by an NTT INDYCAR SERIES doubleheader, with races Friday, Oct. 2 and Saturday, Oct. 3. It will be the penultimate event of the series’ season as the field pursues the champion’s prestigious Astor Challenge Cup to be awarded Sunday, Oct. 25 at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The INDYCAR Harvest GP will pay tribute to a storied IMS event, the Harvest Classic in September 1916. The Harvest Classic was the only racing event held outside of May at IMS from 1911 through 1993. The event featured three races, all won by legendary driver Johnny Aitken.

Fans also will see a host of facility improvements during the event weekend, including more than 30 new LED video boards, refreshed concession stands and restrooms, and 5G wireless connectivity throughout the facility.

The first race will air at 3:30 p.m. (ET) Friday, Oct. 2 on the USA Network. NBC will broadcast the second race at 2:30 p.m. (ET) Saturday, Oct. 3, with WTHR-13 airing the action live in Central Indiana.

Also racing that weekend will be the first pairing of two major sports car series — the Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli and its North American counterpart, GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS. Former Indianapolis 500 pole winner Ryan Briscoe is among the drivers in the Indianapolis 8 Hour event held Sunday, Oct. 4.

The event also will showcase drivers in SRO America’s Pirelli GT4 America, GT Sports Club America and the TC America series.

The full on-track schedule is available at IMS.com.