Ranking the Field for the Indianapolis 500: From 33 to 1
33. Conor Daly (No. 41, ABC Supply, Red, White, and Blue)
Conor is the son of former Indy and F1 racer Derek Daly, and has spent most of his junior career in Europe trying to break into F1. However, when the Noblesville, IN native got a chance to run his first 500, and drive for AJ Foyt in the process, he jumped at it. It’s been a difficult month for Daly though. He suffered the only wreck of the month, and had a mechanical failure in his first qualifying attempt. Finishing is the likely goal for this 21 year old with a bright future.
32. Buddy Lazier (No. 91, Advanced Auto Parts, Black and Orange)
The 1996 winner returns after a four year absence (and one DNQ) to make his 17th career Indy start. The Lazier family is operating this effort on a very limited budget, and thus they had very little track time. That said, expect Lazier to keep his nose clean and show his vast experience.
31. Pippa Mann (No. 63, Cyclops Gear, Red and White)
30. Ana Beatriz (No. 18, Ipiranga, Yellow and Blue)
The first women to ever be teammates at Indianapolis will drive for Dale Coyne Racing. Unfortunately for them, the non-primary cars for that outfit have struggled throughout its history. Beatriz knows that first hand as she’s been the second full-season driver up to this point. Both ladies have many fans, especially Pippa, but the top half of the field is the goal.
29. Katherine Legge (No. 81, Angie’s List, Green and Yellow)
Legge made this deal happen with Sam Schmidt on qualifying weekend. She didn’t get into the car until Sunday morning, ran 24 laps, then put it in the show in the 33rd position. With such little practice time, she’ll be up against it, but she’s already proven her perseverance just by getting here after losing her full-time ride in controversial fashion over the offseason.
TOP TEN IS THE CEILING
28. James Jakes (No. 16, Acorn Stairlifts, Purple and Black)
Jakes will make his 2nd Indy start, this time for Rahal Letterman, who have had an awful month. Jakes is mostly just kind of there, to be honest.
27. Sebastian Saavedra (No. 6, TrueCar, White and Blue)
Saavedra hasn’t had a great record at Indy, and neither has his Dragon Racing team. Their 2013 season hasn’t gone particularly well either, making it unlikely Saavedra will be a factor.
26. Tristan Vautier (No. 55, Lucas Oil, White)
Vautier is the only IndyCar Series rookie this season, and one of four 500 rookies. He’s shown speed so far this season, but not consistency. Vautier has been quiet this month, which indicates a quiet race, but he’s definitely a name to look at for the future.
25. Simona de Silvestro (No. 78, Nuclear Clean Air Energy, Blue and White)
Above all else, Simona is just looking for some luck at Indy. Two years ago, she was in a huge crash that caused severe burns to her hand. Last year, she was stuck driving the underpowered Lotus. The last two years have hurt her development on ovals, which keeps her from being a true contender. If things go well, 2013 could prove to be a building block for Simona’s future.
24. Josef Newgarden (No. 21, Century 21, Black and Yellow)
The second year man for underdog Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing has been steadily improving his results to match this talent, picking up his first top five a few weeks ago in Brazil. This month of May hasn’t been as smooth before the race as last year, but the race last year wasn’t very good. The team is hoping for the reverse this time around.
DARK HORSES…IF HONDA GETS ITS ACT TOGETHER
Honda has been getting its brains beat in by Chevy all month, just like last year. Honda got its act together on race day though and won the race. If they can make history repeat, then these guys will have a least a chance at winning, if not a big one.
23. Simon Pagenaud (No. 77, HP, Blue and White)
Pagenaud had a fine rookie year in IndyCar, but so far this year is in a bit of sophomore slump. His Sam Schmidt team has had success at Indy before, but with the behind Honda haven’t done much this month.
22. Charlie Kimball (No. 83, NovoLog Flex Pen, Orange and Blue)
Kimball has been slowly improving throughout his IndyCar career, now in its third year. Realistically, winning the race is too much to ask, even if Honda gets competitive, but when you drive for Ganassi, it must be noted.
21. Graham Rahal (No. 15, Midas, Yellow and Black)
Graham’s career was supposed to take off in his first year driving for his dad, 1986 winner Bobby. So far though, it hasn’t happened, save for a 2nd at Long Beach. This month has been terrible for the Rahal team, and the son is going to have to make a charge from Row 9. He’s done it before though. His best 500 finish, 3rd in 2011, came from the 29th starting spot.
20. Justin Wilson (No. 19, Boy Scouts of America, Red and Blue)
Wilson’s known as a road race ace, but last year at Indy he ran in the top five and finished 7th, then later won at Texas. Driving for Dale Coyne would make a win a huge underdog story, but the tall Brit has proven he can race at Indy.
Turn the page for the next tier of contenders.