INDYCAR: Sizing up the Indy 500 field

The race to land a spot on the entry list for the 100th Indianapolis 500 has been reduced to two teams. KVSH Racing and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports hold the keys to the final seats left for the 100th running of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” and both are expected to be filled within the next week or two.

Indy 5000

There are a few other seats with drivers either penciled in or waiting for final confirmation, which means we could see some additional jockeying for rides before practice starts on May 16, but in most cases, the minimum number of 33 entries has been achieved. We have drivers ready to fill the open seats, and a few who would love to pry their way into any that become available if current deals fall through.

Engine supply is a limiting factor for the race as Chevy and Honda are not expected to support more than 34-35 combined entries. Chassis availability is also keeping the grid size close to 33. After the flights and crashes experience during practice for last year’s Indy 500, teams are less inclined to press all of their spare cars into service, or to lease those cars to one-off Indy 500 entrants in need of equipment.

Many teams have spare cars, but are not willing to risk placing a driver in one of those DW12s and find themselves out of luck if the car is needed by one of their full-time drivers after a crash. Simply put, with no unused or unassigned DW12s to draw from, and a restricted number of engine leases available, the 100th Indy 500 will not see an overabundance of drivers trying to make the show.

Here’s the confirmed (or known) grid as of March 31:

A.J. Foyt Racing
1: Jack Hawksworth, Honda
2: Takuma Sato, Honda
3: Alex Tagliani, Honda

Andretti Autosport
4: Marco Andretti, Honda
5: Townsend Bell, Honda
6: Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda
7: Carlos Munoz, Honda

Andretti Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian
8: Alexander Rossi (Rookie), Honda

NOTES: Andretti Autosport team manager Rob Edwards says there will be no more and no less than five cars from the combined Andretti-Herta effort.

Chip Ganassi Racing
9: Max Chilton (Rookie), Chevrolet
10: Scott Dixon, Chevrolet
11: Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet
12: Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet

NOTES: A rumored fifth Chip Ganassi Racing entry in partnership with Gary Peterson’s AFS Racing program for Sebastian Saavedra, who raced for the team at the 500 last year (RIGHT), has been circulating. CGR managing director Mike Hull says there is nothing in place to run a fifth car. Peterson, who owns his DW12 chassis, is known to have spoken with a few different teams about running his car for the 500. Provided an AFS entry is solidified with CGR or another team, Indy would, in theory, have its 34th car+driver combo.