May 26, 2013, 9:45 AM EST
The deeper analysis of this year’s Indianapolis 500 has already occurred. Now, MotorSportsTalk’s IndyCar writers offer their final say on each of the 33 drivers ready to take the green flag at noon today. This year’s field is one of the deepest in recent memory, and it’s hard to be too high or low on anyone. So, without further adieu, our final take on the field of 33:
20-Ed Carpenter (Ed Carpenter Racing/Chevrolet)
Tony DiZinno: He’ll be up front over the course of the race; for him, it comes down to positioning for the final 100 miles.
Chris Estrada: The Indiana native was a threat to win late last year, and if he can stay out of trouble, I see no reason why he can’t contend for at least a top five once more.
26-Carlos Munoz (Andretti Autosport/Chevrolet)
TDZ: With clean lines and a patient drive, a top-10 finish and perhaps Rookie-of-the-Year honors could follow.
CE: A Top-10 result would be a nice ending to a great month for the Colombian youngster, who has turned a lot of heads with his efforts.
25-Marco Andretti (Andretti Autosport/Chevrolet)
TDZ: He’s never had a better chance to win, and his improved race focus and mentality should see him in contention until the end.
CE: The third-generation racer has grown considerably in maturity and in race craft, and he could definitely be in the mix for the win if he’s in position late.
5-E.J. Viso (Andretti Autosport + HVM/Chevrolet)
TDZ: Viso is happier, cleaner and driving within himself, and should not be overlooked within the Andretti camp – a top-five would be a great result.
CE: Things have been coming together nicely for Viso this season, and his confidence should grow even more with a good finish.
2-A.J. Allmendinger (Team Penske/Chevrolet)
TDZ: Has everything to gain in terms of future full-time IndyCar prospects from a great race, and has the benefit of Roger Penske on his radio.
CE: I have the sense that ‘Dinger will be steady in his first ‘500’ and have a moment or two to really shine on Sunday. Give him credit for quickly embracing this race’s traditions.
12-Will Power (Team Penske/Chevrolet)
TDZ: In bizarro world, Power wins this year’s 500 to catapult himself back into title contention from the doldrums of the standings; in reality, his best case result is probably a solid top-10 finish.
CE: He could be the wild card in the Penske deck. He certainly has a chance with the team and talent he has, but hasn’t had the greatest luck here (or ovals, in general).
1-Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Autosport/Chevrolet)
TDZ: He’s too good a driver to have not had better results in Indy, and might have the strongest of the Andretti cars in race trim.
CE: That same thing about luck at Indy goes for the reigning IZOD IndyCar Series champion, too. But like Power, he’s definitely aiming for the front.
3-Helio Castroneves (Team Penske/Chevrolet)
TDZ: He needs a comeback from the abyss of anonymity in the last three years, and he hasn’t looked particularly strong in race trim.
CE: Barring trouble on the track or in the pits, racing’s original “Spider-Man” stands a shot at joining some very illustrious company as a four-time ‘500’ winner.
27-James Hinchcliffe (Andretti Autosport/Chevrolet)
TDZ: Would be a popular winner, but more likely to finish from fifth through 10th given the level of competition around him.
CE: The Canadian has been part of a noteworthy month for Andretti Autosport, and he has the potential to be a dark horse late in the going.
4-J.R. Hildebrand (Panther Racing/Chevrolet)
TDZ: A win – or being in the top-five late on merit – would do wonders to vault him into the spotlight for something other than his last lap accident in 2011.
CE: Few seem to be talking about the 2011 “500” runner-up, but his team has shown time and again that it knows the Brickyard very well. Watch that No. 4 car.
98-Alex Tagliani (Barracuda-BHA/Honda)
TDZ: As good a sleeper pick to win as you can make in this field – this team won two years ago and Tagliani has gotten everything and then some out of his Barracuda Honda this month.
CE: Outright speed hasn’t been a problem for Tagliani at Indianapolis, but he hasn’t been able to convert quality starts into really good finishes. Still, a top-10 is not out of the realm of possibility.
11-Tony Kanaan (KV Racing Technology/Chevrolet)
TDZ: The people’s champ, but he’s struggled to find a balance in race trim all month, and will need to rely on his usual passing and restart heroics to have a chance to win.
CE: A victory for TK at the Brickyard would trigger some of the loudest cheers this old track will ever hear. He can definitely have a say in how this race ends.
22-Oriol Servia (Panther DRR/Chevrolet)
TDZ: He’s been Indy’s “ghost driver” in years past, coming from nowhere to contention in the dying stages, and will be extra motivated to do so again and potentially add more races to his 2013 schedule.
CE: The Spaniard has been sneaky quick in his last two tries at Indy, and charged from 27th to fourth last year. A steady car can put him in contention again.
19-Justin Wilson (Dale Coyne Racing/Honda)
TDZ: He’s downplayed his chances but some other Honda runners like his car in race trim – Wilson should be a top-10, possible top-five finisher.
CE: Wilson also came from the back of the field to a Top-10 result last year. His overall work on the ovals has improved and another Top-10 could be in the cards for him.
7-Sebastien Bourdais (Dragon Racing/Chevrolet)
TDZ: Despite a flashy chrome and red livery, Bourdais’ pace this month has not gotten the credit it deserves this month; the question is whether his team can keep him in contention for 500 miles.
CE: Nobody doubts the talent of the four-time Champ Car World Series champion but he has definitely been flying under the radar this May. Don’t be surprised if he makes his way toward the front on Sunday, however.
9-Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing/Honda)
TDZ: Never rule him out, and if he isn’t in the top five going into the last 100 miles, it would be a surprise.
CE: Always there, always lurking. He’s won the “500” once before and if he has no issues, you can bet he’ll be fighting for a second victory at Indy.
10-Dario Franchitti (Target Chip Ganassi Racing/Honda)
TDZ: His team found something on Carb Day but otherwise has struggled this month – that said, like Dixon, he’ll be there at the end in some way, shape or form.
CE: Franchitti’s run at Indy over the last few years has been sensational. Remember, he was knocked to 28th last year after an early pit road incident and still came back and won. Never count this guy out.
14-Takuma Sato (A.J. Foyt Racing/Honda)
TDZ: Driving at the top of his game right now, and buoyed by the confidence of his run last year, should once again figure into the top five in the last 100 miles.
CE: His emergence this season has been one of the better stories from the IndyCar paddock. I can see him being up toward the front again at Indy like he was in 2012. Expect a lot of cheers if he is there.
83-Charlie Kimball (Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing/Honda)
TDZ: Has finished 500 miles both of his first two starts, and another in the “sleeper top-10 finisher” category this time around, if not the outright fastest.
CE: He bagged a solid Top-10 finish last year in the “500,” but with this competitive of a field, a Top-15 may be the most likely target this time around for Kimball.
16-James Jakes (Rahal Letterman Lanigan/Honda)
TDZ: All I can say about Jakes is that no one expected Bertrand Baguette and Takuma Sato to be in the winning frame late for RLL the last two years, and if the team again plays the strategy cards right, this is your “über-sleeper.”
CE: The thing that strikes me about Jakesy is that he keeps out of trouble. That could play to his advantage if there’s a higher rate of attrition on Sunday.
77-Simon Pagenaud (Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports/Honda)
TDZ: Very strong in race trim, and with a year’s worth of oval experience behind him, Pagenaud has the confidence and team to contend for a top-10, perhaps top-five, run on Sunday.
CE: He was the fastest man on Carb Day and considering how wide-open the grid is, a top-10 finish is definitely doable for IndyCar’s reigning rookie of the year.
60-Townsend Bell (Panther Racing/Chevrolet)
TDZ: If his pit crew can keep him in the frame for all 500 miles, Bell is the one of strongest of the Indy-only entries.
CE: The veteran driver has proven to be a steady and reliable one whenever he’s called upon. A top-10 finish would be far from unexpected for him.
8-Ryan Briscoe (Chip Ganassi Racing/Honda)
TDZ: He’ll have a fresh engine but hasn’t had the smoothest of months; in a one-off entry, it’s hard to see him doing much better than 10th.
CE: Last year’s “500” pole winner has had to deal with qualifying difficulties and a blown engine this month, but he’s had success here in the past. He could be a sleeper as the race plays out.
78-Simona de Silvestro (KV Racing Technology/Chevrolet)
TDZ: She needs race laps more than anything else, and a finish of any kind would be a boost after two challenging race days the last two years.
CE: The Brickyard hasn’t always treated her well – and that may be putting it mildly. But now that she has a competitive engine, expect her to come away with a finish better or close to her Indy best of 14th (2010).
21-Josef Newgarden (Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing/Honda)
TDZ: Another sleeper, Newgarden’s maturation process is noticeable from his first to second years, but he and the Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing team need to avoid reliability pitfalls.
CE: The social media maven can rise up the pylon on Sunday but with his starting position, he’ll definitely need a good car in traffic to do it.
15-Graham Rahal (Rahal Letterman Lanigan/Honda)
TDZ: Like Jakes, Graham has the benefit of RLL strategy in his camp, but has struggled for pace; most likely, a borderline top-10 finisher at best.
CE: A win from him would make the Rahals the second father-son combo to win the “500.” One wonders how that would make their rivals, the Andrettis, feel.
6-Sebastian Saavedra (Dragon Racing/Chevrolet)
TDZ: Just finishing his third Indy 500 start would be a victory for the Colombian and his spiked hair; finishing ahead of Katherine Legge, whom he replaced at Dragon, would be a bonus.
CE: The most memorable moment of the month for Saavedra may wind up being his chrome silver and blue paint job literally going to pieces in a practice session.
55-Tristan Vautier (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports/Honda)
TDZ: Given he’s the only full-season rookie in the field, just needs race laps and a finish from his first 500, with anything 15th or better a bonus.
CE: The Frenchman needs to show a lot of patience as he makes his way from Row 10. Finishing this race on the lead lap would be a good showing for him.
18-Ana Beatriz (Dale Coyne Racing/Honda)
TDZ: With three DNFs from the first four races, Beatriz is another in the “needs a finish first” camp, and would go a long way for her participation the rest of this season.
CE: Beatriz has had finishes of 21st, 21st and 23rd in her first three Indy appearances. That would appear to be right where she’ll likely be again.
63-Pippa Mann (Dale Coyne Racing/Honda)
TDZ: After her car had a vibration on Carb Day, Mann just needs to run 500 trouble-free miles this Sunday.
CE: The Englishwoman did a great job getting her car into the show, but she’s going to need a strong race car in order to keep from being lapped.
41-Conor Daly (A.J. Foyt Racing/Honda)
TDZ: Good name, good genes, but a rough month for Foyt’s rookie; if he cracks the top-15, it’s a good result.
CE: The mission is simple: Run as many laps as you can, bring it back in one piece, enjoy the experience.
91-Buddy Lazier (Lazier Partners Racing/Chevrolet)
TDZ: He’s fit and his car looks sharp, but he’s unlikely to trouble the leaders at any point.
CE: Does the 1996 Indy winner have another good run left in him at the Speedway? Lord knows, he’ll try. Much like Kanaan, he’s a bulldog. A top 20 sounds right.
81-Katherine Legge (Schmidt Peterson Pelfrey Motorsports/Honda)
TDZ: There’s nothing to lose for her, with a car that was quick on Carb Day and wanting to again prove herself in her first IndyCar start of the year; she potentially could finish in the 10th-to-15th range.
CE: A nice showing on Carb Day (eighth-quickest) may indicate that she has something decent for the race.
Dec 12, 2013, 8:05 PM EST
We can rule out Alex Tagliani as a potential newcomer to Chip Ganassi Racing for the 2014 IndyCar Series. The French-Canadian driver, who replaced Dario Franchitti in this year’s season finale and tested Ganassi’s No. 10 Chevrolet recently in Florida, has confirmed that he would not be joining the powerhouse outfit. However, Tagliani felt that…
Dec 12, 2013, 7:17 PM EST
Pirelli World Challenge driver Shea Holbrook (pictured) is one of eight female drivers that will receive a grant from the Women’s Sports Foundation. The WSF’s “Women in the Winner’s Circle Project Podium Grant” is designed to support them through business challenges in their careers. “I’m incredibly honored and thrilled to be a part of the…
Dec 12, 2013, 5:00 PM EST
Mazda Road to Indy competitors Spencer Pigot (Orlando, Fla.) and Neil Alberico (Los Gatos, Calif.) have been chosen as the inaugural representatives for Rising Star Racing, a new organization that plans to provide funding and support for select young drivers as they move up the racing ladder. IndyCar Series veteran Josef Newgarden has also signed…
Dec 12, 2013, 4:24 PM EST
Although reports floated out that Sergio Perez is bringing tens of millions in euros to his seat at Force India, team principal Vijay Mallya rubbished the suggestion that commercial interests are what made the decision to hire the Mexican. “That’s against my basic philosophy,” Mallya stated during Thursday’s press conference announcing Perez to the team’s…
Dec 12, 2013, 4:00 PM EST
Two weeks after purchasing the 7/8-mile Iowa Speedway, NASCAR has announced that 28-year-old Jimmy Small will take over as the track’s new president. Small has worked with NASCAR for the past six seasons, and most recently served as senior manager for team marketing services within the sanctioning body’s Industry Services division. He worked as a…
Dec 12, 2013, 3:28 PM EST
The INDYCAR sanctioning body has announced that IndyCar Series engine suppliers Chevrolet and Honda will expand into producing their own aero kits for the Dallara DW12 chassis beginning in the 2015 season. As part of plans announced back in June to increase the sport’s innovations, aero kits are set to be introduced in that season…
Dec 12, 2013, 2:15 PM EST
In an updated edition of its 2014 sporting regulations, the FIA confirmed that drivers will now compete for a pole position trophy throughout the Formula One World Championship. Regarding the new award, the regulations state the following: “A trophy will be awarded to the driver who sets the most pole positions during the championship season…
Dec 12, 2013, 1:30 PM EST
With Nico Hulkenberg and, as of this morning, Sergio Perez set as the 2014 driver lineup for Force India, both Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil are now looking for new rides. But di Resta in particular has been rumored to possibly leave the Grand Prix circuit altogether for another racing discipline. That said, his…
Dec 12, 2013, 12:30 PM EST
NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Rookie-of-the-Year award has been through a rough few years before 2013, when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Danica Patrick contended for the title. The previous three winners from 2010 to 2012 – Kevin Conway, Andy Lally and Stephen Leicht – were all stuck with subpar equipment and were basically the only drivers entered…
Dec 12, 2013, 12:00 PM EST
As we did for IndyCar, here’s a wrap of my MotorSportsTalk colleague Chris Estrada and my post-season wraps on the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. All posts in one place in case you missed any of them. FEATURES Johnson humble, thankful in banquet speech Jay Mohr’s skewering banquet monologue (VIDEO) NASCAR 2014 silly season…
Dec 12, 2013, 11:30 AM EST
Over the weekend, Audi released a teaser shot of the new-for-2014, but same-name-for-2014, R18 e-tron quattro that will compete in the LMP1 category of the FIA World Endurance Championship. Audi’s official, official reveal with driver lineup will take place next week, as the iconic German manufacturer looks to spread the news out over a long…
Dec 12, 2013, 11:00 AM EST
Yesterday, we began our F1 season review with a look back at the biggest stories in the paddock. Now, without further adieu, we’ll follow up with our respective Top 10 driver lists. Tony DiZinno’s Top 10 Drivers 1. Sebastian Vettel: The first half of the year seemed a false dawn. Yeah, Vettel was good, and…
Dec 12, 2013, 10:15 AM EST
The winner of the last IndyCar race of the 2013 season, Will Power, has had a bit of time on his hands since the season finale at Auto Club Speedway in October. He made a pit stop into the IndyCar offices in Indianapolis this week, and one of his engagements was participating in IndyCar’s first…
Dec 12, 2013, 9:40 AM EST
Films nominated for Golden Globes tend to have a decent chance of also being nominated for the Academy Awards. So in that sense, it is very good news for Ron Howard’s “Rush,” which received two Golden Globe nominations Thursday morning. “Rush,” which of course captures the drama and battle for the 1976 Formula One World Championship…
Dec 12, 2013, 9:17 AM EST
Sergio Perez arrived late on Formula One’s driver market for 2014, but the Mexican played his way into a seat anyway after strong performances in the final two races when he knew he was a free agent. Perez shifts from McLaren to Force India for 2014, where he will team alongside Nico Hulkenberg. It’s a…
Dec 11, 2013, 8:45 PM EST
After 11 teams contested this year’s Formula One World Championship, the FIA is now looking for a 12th franchise to join the F1 grid in either the 2015 or 2016 season. Potential entries have been asked to submit a formal expression of interest and an initial administration fee of $5,000 to the FIA by Jan.…
Dec 11, 2013, 7:15 PM EST
We may be on the verge of finding out who will replace the retired Dario Franchitti in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet (pictured) for the 2014 IndyCar Series. This afternoon, TCGR confirmed a press conference for Friday morning at the Performance Racing Industry trade show that’s currently ongoing in Indianapolis. The release…
Dec 11, 2013, 7:00 PM EST
The two-day Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy Test at Barber Motorsports Park is in the books for all of Indy Lights, Pro Mazda and USF2000. This test marked the first time all three series ran together while on Cooper Tires, as Indy Lights makes the switch this offseason ahead of 2014, and all…
Dec 11, 2013, 5:43 PM EST
Still searching for ways to improve the on-track product on intermediate ovals, NASCAR staged a second test session today at Charlotte Motor Speedway that featured a series of simulated races for different aero packages in addition to traditional single-car runs. “One of the things that we learned and the reason we’re back here with so…
Dec 11, 2013, 4:11 PM EST
Former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Juan Pablo Montoya is no stranger to Phoenix International Raceway. But for his second round of IndyCar testing with Team Penske on Tuesday, he might as well have been. Because while it’s one thing to navigate “The Desert Jewel” with a heavy stock car, it’s quite another to do…
- Cost cap, double points for Abu Dhabi part of new FIA regulation changes (10)
- Austin Dillon officially confirmed in RCR’s No. 3 for Sprint Cup (7)
- NASCAR Nation must give Austin Dillon a chance to make his own legacy (7)
- New F1 rules announced Monday create more questions than answers (6)
- Rush receives Golden Globe nominations (5)