Starting lineup for the 104th Indy 500

0 Comments

The 33-driver field of the 104th Indy 500 will take the green flag Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a competitive starting lineup that ranks with among the best in its history.

Eight drivers are previous Indy 500 winners led by Helio Castroneves with three victories (2001, ’02 and ’09). Scott Dixon (2008), Tony Kanaan (’13), Ryan Hunter-Reay (’14), Alexander Rossi (’16), Takuma Sato (’17), Will Power (’18) and Simon Pagenaud (’19) also have their faces etched on the Borg-Warner Trophy.

Two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso also is making his second start in the Brickyard, trying to join Graham Hill as only the second driver to win the “Triple Crown” of the Indianapolis 500, 24 Hours of Le Mans and Monaco Grand Prix.

THE 104TH INDY 500How to watch Sunday’s race on NBC

In addition to the eight Indy 500 winners, there are eight drivers who have victories in the NTT IndyCar Series: Marco Andretti, Ed Carpenter, James Hinchcliffe, Colton Herta, Charlie Kimball, Josef Newgarden, Graham Rahal and Felix Rosenqvist.

There are also six past IndyCar champions: Dixon, Hunter-Reay, Kanaan, Newgarden, Pagenaud and Power.

Here is the Indy 500 starting lineup by row for Sunday’s race (1 p.m. ET on NBC, 2:30 p.m. green flag):


ROW 1

  1. Marco Andretti (Nazareth, Pennsylvania), No. 98 Andretti Autosport Dallara-Honda, 231.068 mph: First member of famed racing family on Indy 500 pole since 1987; nearly won in 2006 but lose lead off final corner
  2. Scott Dixon (Auckland, New Zealand), No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara-Honda, 231.051: The five-time IndyCar series champion spun in practice after qualifying but avoided significant damage
  3. Takuma Sato (Tokyo, Japan), No. 30 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara-Honda, 230.725: The 2017 Indy 500 winner finished third last year and crashed while trying to take the lead late in the 2012 race

ROW 2

  1. Rinus VeeKay (Hoofddorp, Netherlands), No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara-Chevrolet, 230.704: Rookie and lone teenager (19) in field was the only Chevrolet driver to crack the Fast Nine in qualifying
  2. Ryan Hunter-Reay (Fort Lauderdale, Florida) No. 28 Andretti Autosport Dallara-Honda, 230.648: In his 14th start, the 2012 IndyCar champion is seeking his first Indy 500 podium since a thrilling victory in 2014
  3. James Hinchcliffe (Toronto, Canada), No. 29 Andretti Autosport Dallara-Honda, 229.234: Making his third and final scheduled start this season but hoping to add races while also working for IndyCar on NBC this year

ROW 3

  1. Alex Palou (Barcelona, Spain), No. 55 Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh Dallara-Honda, 229.676: Rookie never raced an oval until the June 6 season opener at Texas but has acquitted himself quite well
  2. Graham Rahal (New Albany, Ohio), No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara-Honda, 229.380: The son of 1986 winner Bobby Rahal drives for his father and is making his 13th Indy 500 start
  3. Alexander Rossi (Nevada City, California), No. 28 Andretti Autosport Dallara-Honda, 229.234: Since winning 100th Indy 500 as a 2016 rookie, has finished seventh, fourth and second in race

ROW 4

  1. Colton Herta (Belleair, Florida), No. 88 Andretti Autosport Dallara-Honda, 230.775: Two-time winner as a 2019 rookie but was finished last in Indy 500 because of mechanical problems
  2. Marcus Ericsson (Kumla, Sweden), No. 8 Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara-Honda, 230.566: Formula One veteran joined Ganassi for his second full season in the NTT IndyCar Series
  3. Spencer Pigot (Orlando, Florida), No. 45 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara-Honda, 230.539: Running partial schedule after two full-time seasons with Ed Carpenter Racing

ROW 5

  1. Josef Newgarden (Nashville, Tennessee), No. 1 Team Penske Dallara-Chevrolet, 230.296: Defending and two-time series champion is the only current Penske driver without an Indy 500 victory
  2. Felix Rosenqvist (Varnamo, Sweden), No. 10 Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara-Honda, 230.254: The 2019 IndyCar rookie of the year became a first-time NTT Series winner last month at Road America
  3. Pato O’Ward (Monterrey, Mexico), No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Dallara-Chevrolet, 230.213: After failing to qualify last year at Indy, he’s enjoyed breakout IndyCar season, nearly winning at Road America

ROW 6

  1. Ed Carpenter (Indianapolis), No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara-Chevrolet, 230.211: Three-time Indy 500 pole-sitter is a member of the Hulman-George family that owned Indianapolis Motor Speedway for 74 years
  2. Zach Veach (Stockdale, Ohio), No. 26 Andretti Autosport Dallara-Honda, 229.961: An avid camper and hiker,  he has been building a custom van that he plans to live out of full time
  3. Conor Daly (Noblesville, Indiana), No. 47 Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara-Chevrolet, 229.955: Teamed with former NASCAR championship crew chief Cole Pearn, who is making a one-off IndyCar debut

ROW 7

  1. Santino Ferrucci (Woodbury, Connecticut), No. 18 DCR with Vasser Sullivan Dallara-Honda, 229.924: Finished seventh as top rookie in 2019 Indy 500; traveling country by driving between all races this season
  2. Jack Harvey (Bassingham, England), No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing Dallara-Honda, 229.861: First full IndyCar season for team, which has a technical alliance with Andretti Autosport
  3. Oliver Askew (Jupiter, Florida), No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Dallara-Chevrolet, 229.760: Last year’s Indy Lights and Freedom 100 champion has shown flashes (third at Iowa) as an IndyCar rookie

ROW 8

  1. Will Power (Toowoomba, Australia), No. 12 Team Penske Dallara-Chevrolet, 229.701: The 2018 winner was blunt about lack of speed in qualifying but feels Chevys can compete in race setup
  2. Tony Kanaan (Salvador, Brazil), No. 4 A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara-Chevrolet, 229.154: Though this was branded his ‘Last Lap’ season, 2013 winner has vowed to return to race the Brickyard next year
  3. Dalton Kellett (Stouffville, Canada), No. 41 A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara-Chevrolet, 228.880: Indy 500 rookie and part-time driver for Foyt is an advocate for STEM education

ROW 9

  1. Simon Pagenaud (Montmorillon, France) No. 22 Team Penske Dallara-Chevrolet, 228.836 mph: After a career-saving victory sweep at Indy last year, he earned a new contract that goes beyond this season
  2. Fernando Alonso (Oviedo, Spain), No. 66 Arrow McLaren SP Dallara-Chevrolet, 228.768 mph: Two-time F1 champion says it’s his last chance for at least two years to win Indy and complete Triple Crown
  3. James Davison (Melbourne, Australia), No. 51 DCR/RWR Dallara-Honda, 228.747 mph: Sixth Indy 500 start is part of a multiseries deal to run three Cup races with Rick Ware Racing

ROW 10

  1. Helio Castroneves (Sao Paulo, Brazil), No. 3 Team Penske Dallara-Chevrolet, 228.373 mph: The 20th and perhaps final start with Penske for the three-time Indy 500 winner, who is seeking a new full-time ride
  2. Charlie Kimball (Camarillo, California) No. 4 A.J. Foyt Racing Dallara-Chevrolet, 227.758 mph: Returned to a full-time schedule this season in the NTT IndyCar Series
  3. Max Chilton (Reigate, England), No. 59 Carlin Dallara-Chevrolet, 227.303 mph: Only oval start of the season who runs road and street courses for the team

ROW 11

  1. Sage Karam (Nazareth, Pennsylvania), No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Chevrolet, 227.099 mph: Won the first iRacing Indy Challenge race at virtual Watkins Glen International in April
  2. J.R. Hildebrand (Susalito, California), No. 67 Dreyer & Reinbold Dallara-Chevrolet, 226.341 mph: His 10th start but still remembered most for the first in 2011 when he crashed leading off Turn 4
  3. Ben Hanley (Manchester, England), No. 81 DragonSpeed Dallara-Chevrolet, 222.917 mph: Entry was confirmed Aug. 8, and team has scrambled to find speed for Hanley’s second start

The Thermal Club wants an IndyCar race, and series executives liked its initial impact at test

1 Comment

THERMAL, Calif. – Many teams in the NTT IndyCar Series questioned the relevancy of having a two-day preseason test at The Thermal Club.

The team owners, drivers and engineers believed the 17-turn, 3.067-mile race course that winds and twists its way through a gated private community (about 45 minutes southeast of Palm Springs) had no relevance to any track on the 17-race schedule.

To the leaders of IndyCar, however, there was plenty of relevance to hosting its “Spring Training” at a sort of motorsports country club that caters to extremely wealthy residents who also are automotive enthusiasts.

“Both with our stakeholders and the media that covers IndyCar, we wanted them to know that we are going to do things differently,” Penske Entertainment CEO Mark Miles told NBC Sports from the private VIP viewing area that overlooks the long straights and twisting turns of the course. “This is going to be a year when we expect our growth to go to a whole new level.

“What better way to send that message than to be at a place we have never been that is exceptional?

“The quality of this place; the facilities are off the charts. The customer service, the welcoming feeling you get from the staff here. The track itself is fast. The drivers are having a great time on it.

FRIDAY SPEEDSThird session l Fourth session l Combined

‘AN AMAZING PLACE’: IndyCar and its big plans for Thermal

“It really sent a message to our other promoters and our drivers and team owners that something is up. We want fans around the country and the sports industry to know that something is going on with IndyCar this year.”

The Thermal Club is a concept driven by Tim Rogers, who made his fortune by supplying gasoline to 7-Eleven stores in 36 states. He wanted to create a private community that mixed multimillion-dollar homes and luxury villas with a high-speed race course.

The two-day IndyCar “Spring Training” was the most ambitious motorsports project yet for The Thermal Club.

Rogers wants it to be the first step in a long-term goal for the community.

“Our endgame is we want to host an IndyCar Series race at The Thermal Club one day,” Rogers told NBC Sports as IndyCar hit the track again Friday morning. “This was a good trial to see how the facility can handle it and if the facility works for them.”

Felix Rosenqvist makes laps in the No. 6 Arrow McLaren Dallara-Chevrolet during the first day of NTT IndyCar Series testing (Andy Abeyta/The Desert Sun / USA TODAY Sports Images).

The two-day test was closed to the general public. It was open only to credentialed news media, members of the Thermal Club and a limited number of their guests.

With the spectacular backdrop of the Coachella Valley that is rimmed with snow-capped mountains, The Thermal Club could provide a great setting for an NBC telecast of an IndyCar Series race (and possibly line up a big sponsor for a return on its investment with a larger than normal audience during a ripe time such as the first weekend of February).

NASCAR is using that same model Sunday at the Los Angeles Coliseum by hosting the Busch Light Clash. The National Football League’s AFC and NFC Championship games were last weekend and next Sunday is the Super Bowl.

“That could work, but we have room where we could separate the public and the private members area, too,” Rogers said. “We could accommodate 4,000 or so of the general public.

“This would be a premium event for a premium crowd.”


Rogers’ dream of The Thermal Club began 11 years ago. He will talk to IndyCar about a return for Spring Training next year with hopes of getting a date on the schedule for 2025.

“Whatever fits,” Rogers said.

Miles and Penske Entertainment, the owners of IndyCar, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the Indianapolis 500, realize Rogers has an ambitious dream of getting a race on the schedule.

Miles, however, isn’t ready to indicate that a race at Thermal is part of IndyCar’s future (though drivers seem open to the concept).

“Tim and everybody at The Thermal Club have done a phenomenal job of being hosts here for this test,” Miles said. “Everybody is very happy we are here, and I expect we will find a way to continue to be here. Whether that means a race and when is really a bridge we aren’t ready to cross yet.

“We really like opening the championship season each year in St. Petersburg, Florida. We’ll have to see. But it’s a great way to start the season in this way, and right now, we are happy to be here.”

Indycar Series Test - Day 1
Defending IndyCar champion Will Power takes laps at The Thermal Club during the first day of the track’s first test (Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images).

On track, it was a successful two-day test session with 27 car/driver combinations that will compete in IndyCar in 2023. It’s the largest field for IndyCar since the 1990s. There were a few spins here and there but no major incidents across 2,560 laps.

Kyle Kirkwood led the final session Friday while getting acquainted with his new No. 27 team at Andretti Autosport. Kirkwood has replaced Alexander Rossi at Andretti, whom Kirkwood drove for in Indy Lights.

His time of 1 minute, 38.827 seconds (111.721 mph) around the 3.067-mile road course was the fastest of the fourth and final session. But the fastest speed over two days was defending Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson of Chip Ganassi Racing in the Friday morning session (1:38.4228, 112.182 mph in the No. 8 Honda).

Callum Ilott of Juncos Hollinger Racing was second in the final session at 1:38.8404 (111.707 mph) in the No. 77 Chevrolet. Rookie Marcus Armstrong of New Zealand was third at 1:38.8049 (111.707 mph) in the No. 11 Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing. Alex Palou of Chip Ganassi Racing was fourth at 1:38.8718 (111.672 mph) in the No. 10. Defending NTT IndyCar Series champion Will Power of Team Penske rounded out the top five at 1:38.9341 (111.602 mph) in the No. 12 Chevrolet.

Ericsson was the fastest in combined times followed by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Christian Lundgaard at 1:38.5682 in the No. 45 Honda, Kirkwood, Ilott and Armstrong. Positions 3-5 speeds were from the final practice session on Friday.

Indycar Series Test - Day 1
With members’ houses in the background, Romain Grosjean navigates the turns of The Thermal Club in his No. 28 Dallara-Honda (Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images).

Drivers didn’t know what to expect before hitting the track. After the two-day test was over, NBC Sports asked several drivers what they learned from The Thermal Club.

“I think it’s a first-class facility, no doubt,” two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden of Team Penske said. “I think the entire facility here at Thermal really rolled out the red carpet for us. They did a tremendous job.

“It was a fairly flawless test, I would say, for two days. I think the great thing about this was we had a two-day test, which was fantastic. You got to have this warmup; this preseason build. That was the biggest positive for me, is that we were here, we were running cars. It was a great facility to do it at.

IndyCar Thermal Club test
Josef Newgarden said his No. 2 team (which has a new lead engineer) used The Thermal Club test as an opportunity for building cohesion (Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images).
Indycar Series Test - Day 2
Josef Newgarden (Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images).

“I think the track was a lot more fun than we anticipated. It was challenging, definitely technical. I don’t know how relevant it is. For us, it wasn’t really relevant to anywhere we’re going, but that’s OK.”

But even though the track has no sector particularly similar to any road or street course on the schedule, there still were benefits.

“In a lot of ways, it is relevant,” Newgarden said. “For us it was relevant for building the team up, trying to work in a competitive environment, be competitive together. That’s everything. So regardless of is the setup going to apply to a certain track or another, (it) doesn’t really matter.

“For us, it was applying the principles of how we’re going to work together. From that standpoint, it was very productive for everybody. Raceability-wise, it’s hard to say. It was chewing tires up. Big drop-off from run one to two. I think from a race standpoint, that would be quite positive. You’d have big tire deg here.

“You’d have to do more work on runoff areas if we wanted to race here, but it’s possible. I don’t think it would take much effort to do the things to run an actual race.”


Indycar Series Test - Day 1
Will Power (Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images)

Kirkwood found speed in his Andretti Autosport machine, but he used the test to create a smooth working relationship with his new crew.

“I wouldn’t say that we found something here that is going to translate to anywhere, right?” the 2021 Indy Lights champion said. “This is a very unique track, although it was a lot of fun to drive, and it kind of surprised me in the amount of grip that it actually produced.

“It was quite a bit faster than what we expected.”

Many of the NTT IndyCar Series teams will test later this month at Sebring, Florida, as they prepare for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg to kick off the season March 5.

“It’s a very nice facility, a nice area, it’s pretty cool to have two days of testing here with a lot of high-profile people,” two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Will Power of Team Penske told NBC Sports. “It’s a very technical, tough track.

“It’s pretty good.”

Indycar Series Test - Day 2
IndyCar drivers turns laps on the second day of testing at The Thermal Club, which is nestled in the Coachella Valley that is ringed by mountains in Southern California (Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images).

The Thermal Club received rave reviews, welcomed IndyCar and provided exposure to the movers and shakers of the business community that own the luxury villas and homes in this ultra-rich community.

Could it be a venue of the future for a series that sells lifestyle as much as on-track competition?

“This is a fantastic facility and the circuit is a fast circuit,” team owner Bobby Rahal told NBC Sports. “It’s pretty exciting to watch the cars run around here. I think it would be attractive to people.

“I’ll leave that up to Mark Miles and (IndyCar President) Jay Frye and everybody else whether we have a race here, but why not?

“It’s a great place.”

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500