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There are 34 entries for the 96th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, scheduled for May 27 this year, the day before Memorial Day. Among the 30 drivers nominated thus far - there's always a shuffle here and there - are three previous winners of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing and three IZOD IndyCar Series champions.
With engine competition for the first time since 2005 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway's signature event, Chevrolet and Honda have each committed to supply 14 cars with Lotus responsible for six entries. The distinctive - and certainly sweeter - sound of turbocharged engines returns to the 500 for the first time since 1996, the first year of Indy Racing League competition at the 2.5-mile track. All engines are mounted in the Dallara DW12 chassis that debuted at the start of the 2012 season; all use Firestone Firehawk tires specially constructed for this race.
Team Penske's Helio Castroneves leads the list of past Indy 500 winners; he owns three Baby BorgWarner trophies earned in 2001, 2002 and 2009. Target Chip Ganassi's Dario Franchitti won the Indy 500 in 2007 and 2010 while Scott Dixon achieved his victory in 2008, also his second championship year. Castroneves, who has a birthday in May is trying to become the fourth four-time winner, joining AJ Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears. Franchitti, also a May baby, vies to become a three-time victor; he would be only the tenth driver to earn that distinction. Last year's Indy 500 winner, Dan Wheldon, died in what was intended to be the season finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
IZOD IndyCar Series champions assigned to cars include reigning champion Franchitti (2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011), Dixon (2003, 2008) and KV Racing Technology's Tony Kanaan, who took the 2004 title as the first driver to complete every lap of every race. Four-time Champ Car World Series titleholder Sebastien Bourdais aims to make his first Indy 500 start since 2005.
The field is extremely deep for this year. Beyond the champions and race winners already named, 15 of the 30 nominated drivers have won at least one race in either the IZOD IndyCar Series or Champ Car World Series/CART competition.
There's an exceptional group of rookies as well - call them The Magnificent Seven - including the most experienced Formula One driver in history, Rubens Barrichello and two past Firestone Indy Lights champions, Wade Cunningham and Josef Newgarden. USAC National Drivers champion Bryan Clauson is part of the rookie class, as are Britons James Jakes, Katherine Legge and 2010 American Le Mans Series prototype champion Simon Pagenaud from France. The rookie class features the oldest driver in the field, Barrichello (who turns 40 on May 23) and youngest, Newgarden, 21.
Graduates of the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system includes three Firestone Indy Lights champions, Cunningham (2005), JR Hildebrand from 2009 (last year's 2nd place finisher at the Indy 500) and Newgarden (2011). Other Firstone Indy Lights graduates on the entry list include Marco Andretti, Ana Beatriz, Ed Carpenter, Clauson, James Hinchcliffe, Charlie Kimball, Graham Rahal and Sebastien Saavedra.
Three women are among the drivers named to entries: 2010 Chase Rookie of the Year Simona de Silvestro, Beatriz and Legge Among the TBA entries is one for Newman/Haas Racing that's expected to be filled by former Formula One veteran driver Jean Alesi.
The 2012 Indianapolis 500 is scheduled to start at noon (EDT) Sunday, May 27 and will be broadcast live by ESPN on ABC, the IMS Radio Network and SiriusXM 94. Opening Day is scheduled for Saturday, May 12, which also will feature the Celebration of Automobiles. Pole Day is Saturday May 19 and Bump Day is Sunday May 20.
Here's the entry list as of April 19, showing car number, driver, team and engine:
No. 2: Ryan Briscoe, Team Penske, Chevrolet
No. 3: Helio Castroneves, Team Penske, Chevrolet
No. 4: JR Hildebrand, Panther Racing, Chevrolet
No. 5: EJ Viso, KV Racing Technology, Chevrolet
No. 6: Katherine Legge, Dragon Racing, Lotus
No. 7: Sebastien Bourdais, Dragon Racing, Lotus
No. 8: Rubens Barrichello, KVRT, Chevrolet
No. 9: Scott Dixon, Target Chip Ganassi Racing, Honda
No. 10: Dario Franchitti, Target Chip Ganassi Racing, Honda
No. 11: Tony Kanaan, KVRT, Chevrolet
No. 12: Will Power, Team Penske, Chevrolet
No. 14: Mike Conway, AJ Foyt Racing, Honda
No. 15: Takuma Sato, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, Honda
No. 17: Sebastien Saavedra, AFS Andretti Autosport, Chevrolet
No. 18: Justin Wilson, Dale Coyne Racing, Honda
No. 19: James Jakes, Dale Coyne Racing, Honda
No. 20: Ed Carpenter, Ed Carpenter Racing, Chevrolet
No. 21: TBA, Ed Carpenter Racing, Chevrolet
No. 22: Oriol Servia, Team Lotus DRR, Lotus
No. 25: Ana Beatriz, Lotus DRR, Lotus
No. 26: Marco Andretti, Andretti Autosport, Chevrolet
No. 27: James Hinchcliffe, Andretti Autosport, Chevrolet
No. 28, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport, Chevrolet
No. 38: Graham Rahal, Ganassi Racing, Honda
No. 39: Bryan Clauson, Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, Honda
No. 41 Wade Cunningham, AJ Foyt Racing, Honda
No. 45: TBA, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, Honda
No. 67: Josef Newgarden, Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, Honda
No. 77: Simon Pagenaud, Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports, Honda
No. 78: Simona de Silvestro, Lotus HVM, Lotus
No. 83: Charlie Kimball, Ganassi Racing, Honda
No. 98: Alex Tagliani, Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb/Agajanian, Lotus
No. 99: TBA, Sam Schmidt Motorsports/Pelfry Motorsports, Honda
No. TBA: TBA, Newman/Haas Racing, Lotus