Skip to content

Standard six first-timers plus Kurt Busch to fight for Indy 500 rookie glory

May 24, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT

Aleshin and Huertas in action. Getty Images

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.

The seventh is 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kurt Busch, whose attempt at the 1,100-mile double is a feat unto itself.

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

Latest Posts
  1. Sochi Autodrom gears up for Russian GP in three weeks’ time (VIDEO)

    Sep 18, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    Sochi Olympics AP

    Everything is in place for the first Russian Grand Prix in 100 years to take place on October 12th.

  2. 12 MAXSpeed/Rotax finalists named for USF2000 test

    Sep 18, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

    MazdaRoadToIndy

    Twelve finalists named in USF2000 seat shootout.

  3. Massa not giving up on runner-up spot in constructors’ championship

    Sep 18, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    Italy F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    Massa believes that Williams should be aiming to beat Red Bull despite trailing by almost 100 points in the constructors’ championship.

  4. Red Bull GRC: Andretti Autosport premieres Beetle in LA

    Sep 18, 2014, 9:27 AM EDT

    Photo: Andretti Autosport Photo: Andretti Autosport

    The Volkswagen Beetle makes its debut at the LA doubleheader round this weekend.

  5. 2014 Singapore Grand Prix Preview

    Sep 18, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Singapore - Practice Getty Images

    F1 ventures to Asia for its second annual glamor event in Singapore.

  6. NASCAR AMERICA: Matt Kenseth confident as Loudon looms (VIDEO)

    Sep 17, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT

    Speeding To Read Kickoff Getty Images

    The 2003 Sprint Cup champion talks with NASCAR AMERICA’s Marty Snider about how he’s now looking forward to racing at New Hampshire more than ever before.

  7. Crew chief changes on the way at Joe Gibbs Racing

    Sep 17, 2014, 7:18 PM EDT

    Bojangles' Southern 500 Getty Images

    Joe Gibbs tells the press that the details have already been decided, and that an announcement could come within the next few weeks.

  8. NASCAR AMERICA Minute: Critical Sunday coming for Hamlin, Kurt Busch (VIDEO)

    Sep 17, 2014, 6:15 PM EDT

    Camping World RV Sales 301 Getty Images

    Denny Hamlin and Kurt Busch are currently in position to make the Contender Round, but need big results this weekend at New Hampshire. NASCAR AMERICA’s Frank Stoddard explains why.

  9. Michael Waltrip avoids early “Dancing with the Stars” elimination

    Sep 17, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT

    TV Dancing with the Stars AP

    Waltrip and partner Emma Slater are moving on to Week 2 despite a shaky opening performance.

  10. WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA with Matt Kenseth and Steve Letarte at 5 p.m. ET

    Sep 17, 2014, 4:45 PM EDT

    Federated Auto Parts 400 - Practice Getty Images

    Also on tap: Chicagoland edition of “Scan All 43″; learning the best lines around New Hampshire.

  11. NASCAR: Crew chief earns 1-week suspension after Truck Series rule violation

    Sep 17, 2014, 3:31 PM EDT

    NCWTSLogo

    The No. 20 Truck failed to meet post-race body height requirements following Saturday night’s Truck Series event at Chicagoland Speedway.

  12. Staying balanced in Chase critical for Kevin Harvick, No. 4 team

    Sep 17, 2014, 2:35 PM EDT

    Kevin Harvick AP

    Needing two more good races to make the Contender Round, knowing when and when not to take a chance on the track will be important for the 4 camp.

  13. Singapore GP, Red Bull GRC highlight weekend’s NBC motorsports coverage

    Sep 17, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    Marina Bay circuit illuminated at dusk Reuters

    Singapore GP and two Red Bull GRC races to watch this weekend, among other items, on NBC TV times.

  14. NASCAR: Richard Petty Motorsports committed to two-car program in 2015

    Sep 17, 2014, 1:33 PM EDT

    Sprint Showdown Getty Images

    RPM also announces that it will stay with Ford, and also continue chassis/engine supply deals with Roush Fenway Racing and Roush Yates Engines respectively.

  15. CFH confirms Chevrolet power for 2015 IndyCar season

    Sep 17, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    Ed Carpenter AP

    Ed Carpenter Racing and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, under new CFH Racing banner, will run Chevrolets in the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series.

  16. Ferrari shifting focus, will test 2015 components on current car

    Sep 17, 2014, 12:36 PM EDT

    Italy F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    Team engineering director Pat Fry says some new components for 2015 will be tested on the current F14 T car during the final stretch of races this year.

  17. NASCAR: STANLEY, DEWALT join JGR in 2015

    Sep 17, 2014, 11:19 AM EDT

    Photo via @JoeGibbsRacing Photo via @JoeGibbsRacing

    DEWALT and STANLEY join Joe Gibbs Racing, for Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth, in 2015.

  18. GP2 announces DRS for 2015

    Sep 17, 2014, 10:56 AM EDT

    Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    GP2 adds DRS for 2015.

  19. NASCAR Whelen Euro Series adds another oval race for 2015

    Sep 17, 2014, 10:02 AM EDT

    whelen euro

    NASCAR Whelen Euro Series announces 2015 schedule, which includes another oval.

  20. NASCAR: Corey Lajoie to make Cup debut; ARCA’s Boston to drive 2 N’Wide races for Gibbs

    Sep 16, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT

    Corey LaJoie AP

    Lajoie will run his first Cup race at New Hampshire, while Justin Boston will drive for Joe Gibbs Racing at Kentucky and Dover in the Nationwide Series.

Video from NASCAR America

Looking ahead to New Hampshire
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. K. Busch (1653)
  2. B. Keselowski (1335)
  3. K. Harvick (1334)
  4. J. Gordon (1208)
  5. D. Mayhew (1185)