INDYCAR has announced 35 drivers will be in the running to compete during the month of May, vying for a spot in the traditional 33-car Inadianapolis 500 event.
If more than 33 cars are able to qualify, ‘Bump Day’ will feature for the first time since 2011 where the slowest drivers outside the 33 positions will need to ‘bump’ back into the field by outqualifying their rivals based on their average lap speed.
Six winners feature in this year’s field with three-time winner Hélio Castroneves the most successful of any present driver in the line-up. The Brazilian is only one win away from equalling the most wins at the Indy 500 currently held by three Americans: A. J. Foyt, Sr., Al Unser and Rick Mears.
New Zealand’s Scott Dixon, the 2008 winner, also makes an appearance in the Chip Ganassi Team powered by Honda alongside last year’s winner of the event, Takuma Sato, likewise in a Honda-powered machine of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
With a staggering six cars, Andretti Autosport’s line-up features two former winners in five-time Grand Prix racer Alexander Rossi, who won as a rookie in 2016 partnering Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Three drivers enter the Indy 500 as rookies in American Kyle Kaiser, Brazilian Matheus Leist and Canadian Robert Wickens. While the trio are full-time competitors in this year’s IndyCar Series, all three had to complete the compulsory Rookie Orientation Program in order to be able to qualify on the 2.5-mile super speedway.
Grandson of F1 legend Emerson Fittipaldi, Pietro Fittipaldi was also due to make his debut at the Indy 500 but his dreams were cut short after suffering two broken legs in a horrifying crash during qualifying for the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.
Fourteen American drivers fill the entry list, headlined by Marco Andretti – son of Mario Andretti – and Danica Patrick who will contest in her farewell race after announcing her retirement at the end of last year. She makes a return to the Indy 500 after spending six seasons in NASCAR. Twenty-one drivers feature from outside of the United States with five hailing from the United Kingdom.
2014 IndyCar Series champion Will Power along with James Davison – brother of Supercars talent Will Davison – will fly the flag for Australia. Power contests in his eleventh Indy 500 this year with his best result being second, while Davison will work the track for his fourth time.
Along with the aforementioned Sato and Rossi, this year’s entry list features other ex-F1 drivers in the form of Max Chilton and former Toro Rosso talent Sébastien Bourdais. The Frenchman makes his comeback to the Brickyard after suffering multiple pelvic fractures that kept him out for much of the season last year when he was involved in tremendous 370km/h head-on collision in qualifying last year.
The newly redesigned Dallara DW12 aero kit that all teams must adhere will also be a hot topic for the upcoming event. The changes made involved removing key downforce components greatly reducing grip levels compared to previous years. Nineteen Honda engines will supply the field of 35 while the remaining 16 will be stocked by Chevrolet.
Fernando Alonso, who raced and nearly won the Indy 500 last year (pictured above), will not return to the field for 2018. Continuing his ambition to win the ‘Triple Crown’, the Spaniard is committing to his Formula 1 duties at McLaren and competing in the World Endurance Championship this year with Toyota.
2018 ENTRY BREAKDOWN
Winners (6): Hélio Castroneves, Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Tony Kanaan, Alexander Rossi, Takuma Sato
Rookies (3): Kyle Kaiser, Matheus Leist, Robert Wickens
American drivers (14): Marco Andretti, Ed Carpenter, Conor Daly, JR Hildebrand, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Kyle Kaiser, Sage Karam, Charlie Kimball, Josef Newgarden, Danica Patrick, Spencer Pigot, Graham Rahal, Alexander Rossi, Zach Veach
International drivers (21): Max Chilton, Jack Harvey, Jay Howard, Pippa Mann, Stefan Wilson – England; Helio Castroneves, Pietro Fittipaldi, Tony Kanaan, Matheus Leist – Brazil; James Davison, Will Power – Australia; James Hinchcliffe, Robert Wickens, Canada; Gabby Chaves, Carlos Munoz – Colombia; Sebastien Bourdais, Simon Pagenaud – France; Takuma Sato – Japan; Oriol Servia – Spain; Scott Dixon – New Zealand; Ed Jones – United Arab Emirates
Engines (35): Honda 19, Chevrolet 16
Image via LAT