May 24, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT
Essentially, there are six traditional rookies, and one rookie in name only for a total of seven first-timers in the 98th Indianapolis 500.
The six, you’d say, standard rookies are Jack Hawksworth, Mikhail Aleshin, Carlos Huertas, Sage Karam, Martin Plowman and James Davison.
But for the “standard six,” it’s a mix of Indy Lights graduates and European ladder formula drivers who’ve made the move stateside. For both Aleshin and Huertas, Sunday marks their first ever oval race.
The natural transition for the other four exists as all four have past Freedom 100 experience at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indy Lights. Karam’s third place in 2013 was the best finish by that quartet.
Discovering the speed and tow differential, as well as making their first oval pit stops in the Verizon IndyCar Series, are key adjustments for Lights graduates.
“I felt like I had to learn all over again,” said Karam, who starts 31st. “I transferred the place, and reference points, but that was it.”
Added Hawksworth, who starts 13th, “In Lights it was much easier to follow and you could keep it flat. You get a better draft in Lights. But the draft in IndyCar is much bigger, because there’s a bigger hole punched in the air.”
Busch and Hawksworth, the two highest starting rookies in 12th and 13th, have each had their first unscheduled appointment with the wall this month. Busch admitted for his accident he made a mistake; Hawksworth shook his off rather quickly, and was more concerned about his limited track time (he missed several days of practice).
“You can’t linger on it,” Hawksworth said. “You have to move on and the guys did great to build it back up. It’s been tough more because of the weather, the accident, and the fact we didn’t run on Sunday.”
“You never fully get comfortable,” added Plowman, who rolls off 29th. “The second you do, and you saw what happened with Kurt Busch, and you see his experience level, and you let your guard down and it bites you in the backside. It was a reminder, that although there haven’t been many crashes, bad things can happen to anyone.”
If Busch and Hawksworth have crashed, and Karam nearly crashed despite a ridiculously good save during Carb Day practice, that might leave the other four as those who eventually will crash at IMS… or so goes the saying, anyway.
Aleshin, the Russian rookie, seems to be flirting dangerously with that line of ridiculously fast and ridiculously close to hitting the wall. Huertas is more methodical in his development, but the Colombian rookie has expressed that Turn 1 has been the toughest for him thus far.
Aleshin described that the schedule this month for drivers, especially ones who have never been through the process of the month of May before, is absolutely draining – but worth it.
“If you were to see my schedule, I promise you that you wouldn’t want to be a racing driver,” he opined. “It’s been tough. I have no time to myself at all, but this is good. It shows how important this race is, how much press attention it has, how many spectators are coming. That’s how it’s supposed to be.”
Davison, the Australian, described that as rookies, while they are here to learn and develop, they’re not here to simply ride around and fill the field of 33.
“Initially in the ROP, the speed and the G’s felt a little foreign,” he said. “But I quickly got used to it. Then, you’re almost to the point where doing 230+ mph feels slow. We’re not here to circulate. We’re here to get a result in an ideal world.”
Here’s a quick bullet point primer on all seven, as they seek the Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors in IndyCar’s most prestigious race.
- Kurt Busch, Las Vegas, Nev., No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda. Starts 12th; 2013: NASCAR
- Jack Hawksworth, Bradford, England, No. 98 BHA/BBM with Curb-Agajanian Honda. Starts 13th; 2013: Indy Lights
- Mikhail Aleshin, Moscow, Russia, No. 7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda. Starts 15th; 2013: Formula Renault 3.5 Series
- Carlos Huertas, Bogota, Colombia, No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda. Starts 21st; 2013: Formula Renault 3.5 Series
- James Davison, Melbourne, Australia. No. 33 KV Racing Technology Chevrolet. Starts 28th; 2013: IndyCar (two starts)
- Martin Plowman, Tamworth, England. No. 41 A.J. Foyt Enterprises Honda. Starts 29th; 2013: FIA World Endurance Championship
- Sage Karam, Nazareth, Pa. No. 22 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing/Kingdom Racing with Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. Starts 31st; 2013: Indy Lights
May 23, 2015, 6:04 AM EDT
Vettel storms to P1, throwing Ferrari’s hat into the ring for pole position later today.
May 23, 2015, 4:45 AM EDT
After Thursday’s washout, FP3 becomes all the more important in Monaco.
May 22, 2015, 3:39 PM EDT
Tristan Vautier recaps a roller coaster month of May, where he’ll have a last-minute opportunity to race in the Indianapolis 500 with Dale Coyne Racing.
May 22, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT
A third straight feature race win for Stoffel Vandoorne sees him extend his lead at the top of the drivers’ championship.
May 22, 2015, 2:40 PM EDT
Harvey scores the win in Indy Lights’ biggest race of the year.
May 22, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT
Force India’s deputy team principal lashes out at the F1 Strategy Group, calls for a return to autocratic rule by the FIA and the F1 Group.
May 22, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT
Bids to supply tires to F1 upon the next change to the technical regulations now being taken.
May 22, 2015, 12:06 PM EDT
Notes as they develop from the ground in Indianapolis for Carb Day for the 99th Indianapolis 500.
May 22, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT
Bianchi remains in a coma in French hospital after sustaining severe head injuries at the Japanese Grand Prix last October.
May 22, 2015, 11:38 AM EDT
The team owner would like the season’s calendar expanded.
May 22, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT
Watch Carb Day IndyCar and Indy Lights coverage, from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, at 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra.
May 22, 2015, 9:08 AM EDT
Still A LOT of stuff to watch for on Carb Day for the Verizon IndyCar Series, LIVE from 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra.
May 22, 2015, 8:22 AM EDT
Carb Day at IMS: always one of the busiest days of the year.
May 21, 2015, 11:51 PM EDT
In a bizarre and truly 11th hour circumstance, Tristan Vautier appears set to replace Carlos Huertas in Sunday’s Indianapolis 500.
May 21, 2015, 5:57 PM EDT
Oriol Servia says a connecting rod was removed that might have prevented the part from piercing the tub and critically injuring driver.
May 21, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT
American driver claims his second pole position in GP2 with a mesmerising display in Monaco on Thursday.
May 21, 2015, 4:32 PM EDT
The No. 5 beyond Indy 500 could be Daly, Wilson, or A.N. Other.
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- What to watch for: IndyCar, Indy Lights Carb Day (11 a.m. ET, NBCSN and Live Extra) 0
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- F1 Paddock Pass: Monaco Grand Prix (VIDEO) 0
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