The Indy 500 Might Have A Full 33-Car Field After All

Illustration for article titled The Indy 500 Might Have A Full 33-Car Field After All
Photo: Jamie Squier (Getty Images)

The Indianapolis 500 traditionally runs a 33-car field with its eleven rows of three cars. The health of sport can often be intuited by the number of cars over the 33 car limit that have entered—but with the coronavirus pandemic not only rescheduling the race but also taking a financial toll on smaller teams, 33 cars actually sounded too ambitious for 2020.

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Thankfully, the Ben Hanley and the No. 81 DragonSpeed Chevy has joined the field at the last minute, rounding out the grid with a solid 33.

Racer reported on August 4 that several teams were aiming to negotiate deals to get their cars on the grid but were cutting it close to the start of practice, which begins on August 12. It’s unlikely that we’ll see any more cars added now that the we have a full 33; it was already pretty unlikely that we’d see an entry added this late in the game.

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The No. 81 car was supposed to have made its debut already this year. DragonSpeed had entered the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg that ended up being cancelled due to COVID-19 right at the start of the race weekend. With so much uncertainty, the team tucked away its open-wheel program in favor of its more experienced sports car teams.

The DragonSpeed announcement comes just days after James Davison confirmed his entry with a multi-faceted partnership between Rick Ware Racing, David Byrd, Brian Belardi, and Dale Coyne Racing.

So far, the entry list is as follows:

AJ Foyt Racing (Chevy)
No. 4 Charlie Kimball
No. 14 Tony Kanaan
No. 41 Dalton Kellett

Andretti Autosport (Honda)
No. 26 Zach Veach
No. 27 Alexander Rossi
No. 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay
No. 29 James Hinchcliffe
No. 88 Colton Herta
No. 98 Marco Andretti

Arrow McLaren SP (Chevy)
No. 5 Patricio O’Ward
No. 7 Oliver Askew
No. 66 Fernando Alonso

Carlin Racing (Chevy)
No. 59 Max Chilton

Chip Ganassi Racing (Honda)
No. 8 Marcus Ericsson
No. 9 Scott Dixon
No. 10 Felix Rosenqvist

Dale Coyne Racing (Honda)
No. 18 Santino Ferrucci
No. 51 James Davison
No. 55 Alex Palou

DragonSpeed (Chevy)
No. 81 Ben Hanley

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (Chevy)
No. 24 Sage Karam
No. 67 J.R. Hildebrand

Ed Carpenter Racing (Chevy)
No. 20 Ed Carpenter
No. 21 Rinus Veekay
No. 47 Conor Daly

Meyer Shank Racing (Honda)
No. 60 Jack Harvey

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (Honda)
No. 15 Graham Rahal,
No. 30 Takuma Sato
No. 45 Spencer Pigot

Team Penske (Chevy)
No. 1 Josef Newgarden
No. 3 Helio Castroneves
No. 12 Will Power
No. 22 Simon Pagenaud

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There are still technically a few possible entrants coming from Juncos or Top Gun Racing, but again, it seems highly unlikely that either team will secure the funding or have the time to get their programs off the ground.

It’ll also be important to keep watch over some of these smaller, last-minute entries and extra cars. While 33 cars means no one will be bumped in qualifying, a nasty crash could leave underfunded teams scrambling to scrape together parts at the last minute, or an unproven car could simply prove to be too slow or dangerous to be worth the risk.

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The Indy 500 airs on August 23 at 1pm ET on NBC.

Weekends at Jalopnik. Managing editor at A Girl's Guide to Cars. Lead IndyCar writer and assistant editor at Frontstretch. Novelist. Motorsport fanatic.

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DISCUSSION

I’m at best a casual fan of Indy, but still it is astonishing that there are only 12 racing teams fielding 33 drivers.  Andretti has SIX?  How does that even work?