INDIANAPOLIS – Pippa Mann’s signing with Dale Coyne Racing for May’s 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 last week was the 26th driver revealed for this year’s field. Now, this weekend in Long Beach, we have a 27th and 28th entry reveaed.
Zach Veach announced on Friday that he’s signed a deal with the third A.J. Foyt Racing entry and will become the 27th driver in the field. Then on Sunday, Andretti Autosport and Jack Harvey announced that they will team up as well bringing the 28th car/driver combination. With it being now less than two months until race day, there’s still at least five spots now to be filled. With that being said, where will those entries come from?
Currently, there’s 17 Honda entrants and 11 Chevrolet. The big kicker is, I don’t see much room for the Chevy camp to grow. Team Penske is maxed out with five cars while A.J. Foyt Racing is now as well. Ed Carpenter Racing has said twice now that they don’t plan on running additional cars at Indy in May.
ECR’s resources aren’t where they need to be either, but Preferred Freezer Systems coming onboard for J.R. Hildebrand in four races this year, including both at Indy certainly helps the budget for a third car if absolutely needed. But, don’t look for that to happen.
That’s it as far as full-time teams go on the Chevy side. Dreyer & Reinbold/Kingdom Racing will field an entry again for Sage Karam which will move the car count up to their current state of 11. Lazier Partners haven’t formally announced that they’d be back, but all signs that they will with Buddy Lazier again in a Chevy entry. Juncos Racing will likely go with Chevy and could show up with two cars, that would move the car count up to 12 or 13 on the Chevy side, depending on if they enter one or two cars.
Then, there’s the Larry Curry effort he’s putting together that looks like Gabby Chaves will be the driver if all goes to plan. They have two cars, but will likely use one as a backup car for Chaves. That will give us 13-14 Chevy entries, and I don’t see any more being added.
On the Honda front, with there being 17 current entries, they’d need to add at least two to three more cars for us to reach the magic number of 33. Would they supply 19-20 cars at Indy this year? That’s a little over 60-percent of the entire field. That’s a lot to ask for too.
Ganassi looks to be staying put with four cars, as the hot rumors of Rico Abreu or Kyle Larson entering this year’s race appear to be slim. Andretti Autosport has five cars locked in now and that will likely be it for them. Dale Coyne Racing has three cars now as does Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports. Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan Racing has two cars with Oriol Servia running this May, but I don’t see them being able to expand to a third entry. They’re likely set at two.
That in turn means there’s 17 confirmed Honda entries. If Chevy has 13-14, that gives us 30-31 cars. So, where do the other 2-3 come from?
SPM and Coyne is really it.
If each add a car, four full-time entries for each team, then we’d have 32-33 cars. If only one team does, then that would put the heat on Chevy to add one more car. Does that mean two cars with Curry’s team? Two with Juncos? A third a ECR? Either way, the numbers will be tight.
The drivers vying for the remaining six seats are Kyle Kaiser, Matthew Brabham, Stefan Wilson, RC Enerson, Townsend Bell and Gustavo Yacaman. Those are the most realistic. Spencer Pigot would get the nod if ECR goes to a third car, but they could even loan him out and merge with say Larry Curry for a second team. Either way, 33-34 cars will be tops this year in May.
Indy 500 Entries:
Team Penske- 5 (Pagenaud, Newgarden, Castroneves, Power, Montoya)
A.J. Foyt Racing- 3 (Daly, Munoz, Veach)
Ed Carpenter Racing- 2 (Carpenter, Hildebrand)
DRR/Kingdom Racing- 1 (Karam)
Lazier Partners- 1 (Lazier)
Andretti Autosport- 5 (Sato, Andretti, Hunter-Reay, Rossi, Harvey)
Chip Ganassi Racing- 4 (Chilton, Dixon, Kanaan, Kimball)
Dale Coyne Racing- 3 (Bourdais, Jones R, Mann)
Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports- 3 (Hinchcliffe, Aleshin, Howard)
Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan Racing- 2 (Rahal, Servia)
Teams Still Looking for Manufacturers/Deals:
Juncos Racing- 2 (Will enter at least one car for the ‘500, likely 2. Also will likely be Chevy entries)
Larry Curry- 1 (Looking like he has 2 cars, will likely enter just one for the month and the other used as a backup. Chaves likely the driver. Chevy team)
Drivers In the Hunt:
Gabby Chaves- Linked to Larry Curry’s team
Stefan Wilson- Has funding, and will likely land somewhere.
Matthew Brabham- Has a little bit of funding but options arelimited
RC Enerson- Best shot would be a 4th Coyne seat. The SPM bridge was burned last year
Spencer Pigot- If ECR runs a 3rd car he’d be in it. If not, a merged effort with Larry Curry’s second car would be other obvious fit.