(WOMR file photo)
Three former winners and seven rookies, including Indiana boy Bryan Clauson living his “surreal dream”, bracket the list of drivers named to 34 entries filed for the 2012 Indianapolis 500.
The 96th running of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” is scheduled for Sunday, May 27, at the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway, site of the Dan Wheldon’s improbable final-lap victory over rookie JR Hildebrand last May. Wheldon scored his second Indy 500 win when Hildebrand crashed in Turn 4 on the final lap. It was the highlight of a star-crossed season for Wheldon, the 33-year-old Englishman who was fatally injured in a multiple-car crash during the season-ender at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Oct. 16. Unfortunately, yours truly was present for that final race at Las Vegas!
All drivers will compete in the new Dallara DW12 chassis, named in honor of test driver Wheldon, that debuted at the start of this season. The Indianapolis 500 will be the first oval race for the new car.
In addition, engine competition returns to IMS for the first time since 2005 with 2.2-liter turbocharged V-6 engines supplied by Chevrolet, Honda and Lotus. Chevrolet and Honda each will field 14 entries, with Lotus powering six. The distinctive sound of turbocharged engines will return to the 500 for the first time since 1996, inaugural year of the Indy Racing League.
Past Indy 500 winners on the entry list
Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002, 2009) leads the list of past winners, which also includes Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Dario Franchitti (2007, 2010) and Scott Dixon (2008). Castroneves will attempt to become the fourth four-time winner of the race, joining A.J. Foyt Jr., Al Unser and Rick Mears. Franchitti, meanwhile, will try to become just the 10th driver to earn at least three Indianapolis 500 victories
Past IndyCar champions
IndyCar Series champions assigned to cars include Dixon (2003, 2008), Franchitti (2007, 2009, 2010, 2011) and KV Racing Technology w/SH’s Tony Kanaan (2004). Four-time Champ Car World Series champion Sebastien Bourdais also will attempt to make his first Indianapolis 500 start since 2005.
The rookie class
The rookie class of seven drivers features the most experienced Formula One driver in history, Rubens Barrichello, and past Firestone Indy Lights champions Wade Cunningham and Josef Newgarden. Other rookies assigned to cars are reigning/two-time USAC National Driver’s Champion Bryan Clauson, James Jakes, Katherine Legge and 2010 American Le Mans Series champion Simon Pagenaud.
Clauson has been hired by Sarah Fisher and Wink Hartman to drive the #39 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing/RW Dallara/Honda. Clauson, of Noblesville, Ind., will be teammate to American Josef Newgarden of Nashville, Tenn., fulltime driver of the #67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Dallara/Honda. Clauson and Newgarden were teammates in Firestone Indy Lights in 2011.
Clauson won back-to-back USAC National Driver’s Championships in 2010-11 for his performance in all three major USAC open-wheel divisions. He also won the USAC National Midget Championship in 2010 and 2011 and has scored more than 26 USAC wins.
In addition, Clauson had four top-five finishes in Firestone Indy Lights racing in 2011, when he earned a Mazda Road to Indy Scholarship for winning the USAC National Driver’s Championship. His best finish was third at Iowa Speedway for Sam Schmidt Motorsports.
The 96th Indy 500 Entry list
Entry list for the 96th running of the Indianapolis 500, with car number, driver, hometown, car name, engine and entrant:
2-Ryan Briscoe, Sydney, Australia IZOD Team Penske Chevrolet Team Penske
3-Helio Castroneves (W), Sao Paulo, Brazil Shell V-Power/Pennzoil Ultra Team Penske Chevrolet Team Penske
4-JR Hildebrand, Sausalito, Calif. National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet Panther Racing
5-E.J. Viso, Caracas, Venezuela CITGO/ PDVSA KV Racing Technology Chevrolet KV Racing Technology
6-Katherine Legge (R), Guildford, England TrueCar-Dragon Racing Lotus Dragon Racing
7-Sebastien Bourdais, Le Mans, France Dragon Racing Lotus Dragon Racing
8-Rubens Barrichello (R), Sao Paulo, Brazil BMC/Embrase KV Racing Technology Chevrolet KV Racing Technology
9-Scott Dixon (W), Auckland, New Zealand Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda Target Chip Ganassi Racing
10- Dario Franchitti (W), Edinburgh, Scotland Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda Target Chip Ganassi Racing
11- Tony Kanaan, Salvador, Brazil GEICO/Mouser Electronics KVRT Chevrolet KV Racing Technology w/SH
12- Will Power, Toowoomba, Australia Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet Team Penske
14- Mike Conway, Bromley, England ABC Supply Co./A.J. Foyt Racing Honda A.J. Foyt Enterprises
15- Takuma Sato, Tokyo Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda Rahal Letterman Lanigan
17- Sebastian Saavedra, Bogota, Colombia Team AFS Chevrolet AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport
18-Justin Wilson, Sheffield, England Sonny’s BBQ Honda Dale Coyne Racing
19-James Jakes (R), Leeds, England Boy Scouts of America Honda Dale Coyne Racing
20-Ed Carpenter, Indianapolis Fuzzy’s Vodka /Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet Ed Carpenter Racing
21-TBA Chevrolet Ed Carpenter Racing
22-Oriol Servia, Pals, Spain Lotus-Dreyer & Reinbold Lotus Lotus-DRR
25-Ana Beatriz, Sao Paulo, Brazil Team Ipiranga Chevrolet Andretti Autosport/Conquest Racing
26-Marco Andretti, Nazareth, Pa. Team RC Cola Chevrolet Andretti Autosport
27-James Hinchcliffe, Toronto Team GoDaddy.com Chevrolet Andretti Autosport
28-Ryan Hunter-Reay, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Team DHL/Sun Drop Citrus Soda Chevrolet Andretti Autosport
38-Graham Rahal, New Albany, Ohio Service Central Honda Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing
39-Bryan Clauson (R), Noblesville, Ind. Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing/RW Honda Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing
41-Wade Cunningham (R), Auckland, New Zealand ECat/ABC Supply Honda A.J. Foyt Racing
45-TBA Honda Rahal Letterman Lanigan
67-Josef Newgarden (R), Hendersonville, Tenn. Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda
Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing
77-Simon Pagenaud (R), Poitiers, France Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda Schmidt-Hamilton Motorsports
78-Simona de Silvestro, Thun, Switzerland Nuclear Clean Air Energy Lotus HVM Racing Lotus Lotus-HVM Racing
83-Charlie Kimball, Camarillo, Calif. NovoLog FlexPen Honda Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing
98-Alex Tagliani, Lachenaie, Canada Team Barracuda-BHA Lotus Bryan Herta Autosport w/Curb-Agajanian
99-TBA BraunAbility-Schmidt Pelfrey Motorsports Honda Sam Schmidt Motorsports
TBA TBA Lotus-Newman Haas Racing Lotus Newman/Haas Racing
All 34 cars are 2012 Dallara DW12 chassis with Firestone tires.
(W) _ Denotes Indianapolis 500 winner
(R) _ Denotes Chase Rookie of the Year Candidate
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!