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. NASCAR AMERICA: NASCAR returns to Indianapolis

    Jul 24, 2014, 6:09 PM EDT

    (Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images) Getty Images

    On Thursday’s edition of NASCAR AMERICA, Jeff Burton joined the crew to discuss what makes racing in the Brickyard 400 unique. Burton says NASCAR is a guest at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway due to the history IndyCar has made at the track.

  2. NASCAR AMERICA: Sam Hornish Jr. explains what it takes to win at the Brickyard

    Jul 24, 2014, 6:04 PM EDT

    (Photo: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images) Getty Images

    On Thursday’s edition of NASCAR AMERICA and in preparation for this week’s Brickyard 400, Leigh Diffey talked with 2006 Indianapolis 500 winner Sam Hornish Jr. on what it was like to win the third closest finish in race history. Hornish also discussed some of the keys that drivers will need to succeed at the Brickyard 400.

  3. Tony Stewart: ‘Definitely feasible’ to have Sprint Cup, Nationwide race at Eldora

    Jul 24, 2014, 5:52 PM EDT

    (Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

    After two years of huge success with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series racing at his Eldora Speedway, Tony Stewart would love to eventually see the Nationwide and Sprint Cup series come to his little half-mile track, as well.

  4. WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA at 5 pm ET — Eldora highlights, Brickyard surprises and history

    Jul 24, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT

    140724-nascar-america

    On Thursday’s NASCAR AMERICA, Leigh Diffey is the in-studio host and is joined by Sam Hornish Jr. (2006 Indy 500 winner and current Nationwide Series driver and winner of the 2014 Iowa Nationwide race).

  5. Paul Menard offers ride-alongs for Make-A-Wish/Indy Racing Experience this week

    Jul 24, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    (Photo: Sean Gardner/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Indy Racing Experience has partnered with Make-A-Wish® Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana to enhance two wishes during the Kroger Brickyard Super Weekend that takes place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway July 24-27, 2014.

  6. IndyCar: RHR earns second quarter Driver of the Year award

    Jul 24, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT

    Ryan Hunter-Reay AP

    Ryan Hunter-Reay earns another award after his Indianapolis 500 win.

  7. Button pleased with McLaren progress; no word on 2015

    Jul 24, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Hungary - Previews Getty Images

    McLaren driver no closer to deciding his future, but is happy with how things are going in recent weeks.

  8. PWC: Cindric, Bove to race for charity at Mid-Ohio

    Jul 24, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    SOWF

    Pirelli World Challenge President/CEO Scott Bove and 15-year-old rising star Austin Cindric to race a GTS Ford Mustang Boss for charity at Mid-Ohio weekend.

  9. Sutil feeling confident about Hungary and his F1 future

    Jul 24, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Hungary - Previews Getty Images

    Sauber driver pleased with his pace in Germany, and cares little for the question marks about his future.

  10. Pirelli confirms tire allocations up to Singapore

    Jul 24, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Germany - Previews Getty Images

    Italian tire supplier confirms its selections for the Belgian, Italian and Singapore Grands Prix.

  11. Report: Deal for Marcos Ambrose’ return to Australia to race V8 Supercars for Roger Penske may be close

    Jul 24, 2014, 12:54 PM EDT

    (Photo: Scott Halleran/Getty Images) Getty Images

    While it’s seemed Marcos Ambrose was a lock to return to Richard Petty Motorsports, especially with all the positive things he’s said about wanting to stay in recent weeks and months, a report Thursday has Ambrose leaving NASCAR after this season and returning to his native Australia to race V8 Supercars — potentially for a new team owned by iconic American race team owner Roger Penske.

  12. Alonso: Raikkonen having the same difficulties as me

    Jul 24, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT

    Canadian F1 Grand Prix Getty Images

    Ferrari driver has few qualms about Kimi’s difficulties in 2014.

  13. Former Brickyard 400 winner Bobby Labonte to compete in Sunday’s race for Tommy Baldwin Racing

    Jul 24, 2014, 12:03 PM EDT

    bobby labonte Getty Images

    Former Brickyard 400 winner Bobby Labonte will be returning to race at the fabled Indianapolis Motor Speedway in this Sunday’s 21st running of the Brickyard.

  14. MotorSportsTalk’s Predictions: Hungarian GP

    Jul 24, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Hungary - Previews Getty Images

    Our writing team makes its predictions for this weekend’s race at the Hungaroring.

  15. Alexander Rossi joins Marussia as reserve driver

    Jul 24, 2014, 11:35 AM EDT

    © Marussia F1 Team © Marussia F1 Team

    American youngster joins Marussia as its official reserve driver with immediate effect.

  16. Massa still adamant that Germany crash was not his fault

    Jul 24, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Germany - Race Getty Images

    Brazilian driver compares it to incident at the beginning of the Australian Grand Prix with Kamui Kobayashi.

  17. Bernie Ecclestone confirms Mexican GP for 2015

    Jul 24, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Germany Getty Images

    Formula 1 will return to the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez next year for the first time since 1992.

  18. 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix Preview

    Jul 24, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Hungary - Previews Getty Images

    One final chapter to the first half of the 2014 F1 season at the Hungaroring this weekend, a track that has suited Lewis Hamilton very well over the years.

  19. IndyCar: Nearly the entire field set for Mid-Ohio test today

    Jul 24, 2014, 8:30 AM EDT

    Honda Indy 200 At Mid-Ohio - Day 3 Getty Images

    Six teams, 17 cars set to test at Mid-Ohio ahead of IndyCar race there next week.

  20. Bubba Wallace dominates to win MudSummer Classic at Eldora (updated)

    Jul 23, 2014, 10:46 PM EDT

    Darrell Wallace Jr. AP

    Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. and Kyle Larson put on a spectacular battle in the final 40-lap segment of Wednesday’s second MudSummer Classic at Eldora Speedway, but it was Wallace holding on for the win.

Today on NASCAR AMERICA

More from NASCAR America

Brickyard 400 is 'a big deal'

Featured video

Inside scoop with Adrian Sutil
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. K. Kahne (817)
  2. T. Stewart (814)
  3. J. Gordon (675)
  4. B. Scott (610)
  5. E. Jones (601)