2011 Indianapolis 500 preview


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2010 Indianapolis 500

A special edition of F1 Fanatic Live will follow the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.

Here’s a preview of the race complete with a run-down of the grid and a spotters’ guide for all the cars.

The race

In simple terms, the Indianapolis 500 is the fifth race of the IndyCar season and the first oval race after four events on street and road courses.

But it’s much more than that – the 500-mile oval race is one of the world’s greatest and fastest motor races. This year is the 100th anniversary of the first Indianapolis 500, and the 95th running of the race.

Among the F1 drivers to have tasted success at the Brickyard are Emerson Fittipaldi, Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Mario Andretti, Jacques Villeneuve and Juan Pablo Montoya.

The grid

Alex Tagliani starts from pole position

Alex Tagliani is the surprise pole sitter for the race, beating the Penske and Ganassi cars after a rare error by the latter meant both their cars were sent out with too little fuel.

That consigned Scott Dixon to second and last year’s winner Dario Franchitti to ninth on the grid.

Oriol Servia completes the front row for Newman/Haas with no Penske among them for the first time since 2004. Will Power, who’s the only driver to have led every race this year, is fifth.

Either side of him are two drivers making their first starts this year: Townsend Bell and Dan Wheldon. The latter was champion in 2005 but found himself without a full-time seat this year.

Takuma Sato drives the Lotus-sponsored KV Racing entry

The first of two former F1 drivers on the grid is Takuma Sato, in one of the three KV Racing entries sponsored by (Group) Lotus.

Those with keen memories will recall JR Hildebrand, 12th, tested for Force India at the end of 2009. He’s the highest rookie on the grid. Another first-timer, James Hinchcliffe, has made an impressive start to his IndyCar career this year and will start 13th.

Three-times Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves was one of several top drivers who missed out on the shootout for the front three rows. He starts 16th.

Former Minardi and Jaguar pilot Justin Wilson is 19th on the grid, sharing row seven with Tomas Scheckter, the son of 1979 F1 champion Jody Scheckter.

Andretti Autosport, formerly one of Indycar’s power house teams, failed to get all of their cars into the race. John Andretti starts 17th, Danica Patrick is 25th and Marco Andretti 27th.

Both Ryan Hunter-Reay and Mike Conway – the latter a winner at Long Beach just six weeks ago – failed to make the cut. Hunter-Reay later reached a deal to take over Bruno Junquiera’s entry and will start last.

Patrick is one of four women on the grid, the others being Simona de Silvestro (23rd), Pippa Mann (31st) and Ana Beatriz (32nd).

The five formers winners on the grid are Castroneves (three wins), Franchitti (two), Rice, Dixon and Wheldon (one each).

#DriverNatTeamSpeed mph (kph)
177Alex TaglianiCANSam Schmidt Motorsports227.472 (366.081)
29Scott DixonNZLTarget Chip Ganassi Racing227.34 (365.868)
32Oriol ServiaESPNewman/Haas Racing227.168 (365.591)
499Townsend BellUSASam Schmidt Motorsports226.887 (365.139)
512Will PowerAUSTeam Penske226.773 (364.956)
698Dan WheldonGBRBryan Herta Autosport226.49 (364.5)
744Buddy RiceUSAPanther Racing225.786 (363.367)
867Ed CarpenterUSASarah Fisher Racing225.121 (362.297)
910Dario FranchittiGBRTarget Chip Ganassi Racing226.379 (364.322)
105Takuma SatoJPNKV Racing Technology – Lotus225.736 (363.287)
1114Vitor MeiraBRAA.J. Foyt Enterprises225.59 (363.052)
124JR HildebrandUSAPanther Racing225.579 (363.034)
136James HinchcliffeCANNewman/Haas Racing225.572 (363.023)
1430Bertrand BaguetteBELRahal Letterman Lanigan LLC225.285 (362.561)
1511Davey HamiltonUSADreyer & Reinbold Racing225.25 (362.505)
163Helio CastronevesBRATeam Penske225.216 (362.45)
1743John AndrettiUSAAndretti Autosport224.981 (362.072)
1859Ernesto VisoVENKV Racing Technology – Lotus224.732 (361.671)
1922Justin WilsonGBRDreyer & Reinbold Racing224.511 (361.315)
2088Jay HowardGBRSam Schmidt – RLL Racing224.483 (361.27)
217Tomas ScheckterZAFKV Racing Technology – SH Racing224.433 (361.19)
2282Tony KanaanBRAKV Racing Technology – Lotus224.417 (361.164)
2378Simona de SilvestroSWZHVM Racing224.392 (361.124)
2423Paul TracyCANDreyer & Reinbold Racing224.939 (362.004)
257Danica PatrickUSAAndretti Autosport224.861 (361.879)
266Ryan BriscoeAUSTeam Penske224.639 (361.521)
2726Marco AndrettiUSAAndretti Autosport224.628 (361.504)
2883Charlie KimballUSANovo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing224.499 (361.296)
2938Graham RahalUSAService Central Chip Ganassi Racing224.38 (361.105)
3019Alex LloydGBRDale Coyne Racing223.957 (360.424)
3136Pippa MannGBRConquest Racing223.936 (360.39)
3224Ana BeatrizBRADreyer & Reinbold Racing223.879 (360.298)
3341Ryan Hunter-Reay*USAA.J. Foyt Enterprises

*Having failed to qualify in his original entry for Andretti Autosport, Hunter-Reay has taken over the car that was qualified 19th by Bruno Junquiera.

The drivers and cars

The track

View Larger Map

Built in 1909, the surface of the 2.5-mile (4.02km) oval was originally formed of 3.2 million bricks. These were later replaced with asphalt, though a line of bricks remains at the starting line.

The banking is fairly shallow by the standard of most American tracks.

Arie Luyendyk set the record for the fastest ever lap of the course in practice for the 1996 race. He covered it in 37.616s, an average speed of 239.260 mph (385.052 kph).

Today’s speed are slightly lower but even so their average speeds around the track in qualifying are around 30kph higher than the maximum speed seen at the fastest track on the F1 calendar, Monza.

The race distance is 200 laps and drivers will have to stop for fuel several times to complete the distance. They do not race in the rain on oval circuits, so wet weather could cause a postponement, which last happened in 2007.

From 1950-1960 the Indianapolis 500 counted towards the F1 world championship. More recently, the United States Grand Prix was held on the infield circuit at the track from 2000-2007. Unlike the oval circuit, this track ran clockwise.

The track has been changed since then in order to hold motorcycle racing and the infield circuit now also runs anti-clockwise.

Watching the race

The race starts at 12pm Eastern Time which is 5pm in the UK.

Live coverage starts at 4:30pm on Sky Sports 4.

You can also follow live timing and scoring on the IndyCar website.

And of course you can join us for F1 Fanatic Live during the session – look out for the link on the home page.

If you’re going to be watching, let us know who’ll you’ll be supporting in the comments.

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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86 comments on “2011 Indianapolis 500 preview”

  1. Gooo Canada!!

    Is the race on Saturday or Sunday?
    I could look it up, for sure, but someone
    here must know.

    1. A special edition of F1 Fanatic Live will follow the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.

      Also, Keith, just a heads up, but here in the States, Ernesto Viso is more commonly called E.J. Viso, both by the television commentators and on any on-screen displays. Even the official IndyCar website lists him by his initials.

      E.J. Viso – IndyCar.com

  2. Nice article Keith! Can’t wait for Sunday to watch the Greatest Spectacle.

  3. I’ll be cheering for Dario, or Helio. But frankly, as long as its not Danica I wont mind, I just can not stand her.

    1. Why does everyone hate Danica?

      1. Because she’s an egomaniac?

      2. I hardly think everyone hates Danica. In fact of the annoying aspects of IndyCar racing is that she is talked about and referenced almost non-stop. This is of course, not entirely her fault, so I do not count it as a main reason for why I dislike her.

        1. 100% agree. Not really IndyCar, but…

        2. Thats basically the crux behind peoples feelings for Lewis also.

      3. Mark Hitchcock
        27th May 2011, 20:36

        The obvious troll answer would be “because she’s a woman in a male dominated sport”.

      4. My personal opinion:

        I don’t think she’s that good of a driver and is popular mainly because she’s said to look good in a swimsuit. Also, personality wise she often seems as though she believes herself to be God’s gift to IndyCar racing (though I did see her give two very good interviews during Bump Day last weekend).

        1. I don’t think she’s that good of a driver and is popular mainly because she’s said to look good in a swimsuit.

          I’m only just finding this out now? *Google Image Search*

          1. Welcome to the 2000s. We’ve missed you. :D

      5. I don’t hate Danica, I just think she’s incredibly overrated. One win years ago does not a superstar make. Especially since she’s been in the series for how many years now? With how many women are racing in the series now, I think people need to get over her presence. For instance, De Silvestro’s drive in St. Petersburgh was phenomenal. Yet I don’t hear the same sort of to-do about her.

        1. I rate Simona de Silvestro rather highly (she’s quickly become one of my favourite drivers), but I think the reason for the difference in perception and coverage between her and Danica Patrick can be summed up thusly:

          Danica Patrick is a woman who races cars, while Simona de Silvestro is a race car driver who happens to be a woman.

          (To a certain extent, I’ve sensed that vibe from even a few of the drivers.)

        2. I like Danica and think she’s done good things for the sport, but i agree, de Silvestro has had veeery good races this season and it’s one of the ones i root for.

    2. This won’t be a popular opinion (it used to be), but I hope Danica wins. It’ll get IndyCar a LOT of attention in the mainstream. IndyCar has vastly improved over the last couple of years (that silly open-door-passing rule notwithstanding), but the sport needs a huge event that people will quickly take notice of so they’ll start paying attention to it again.

  4. Are there any live web streams? I’ve only got freeview! :(

    1. There will be a TON out there. justin.tv is a good place to start, but also try out firstrowsports, super-sportz, and lshunter (just Google any of them).

      1. Looks like I’m going to have to miss it. :( 3am on a Monday doesn’t work.

  5. I’m always confused by drivers and cars in American racing series. Somebody correct me if I’m wrong:
    1) Drivers can have their own title sponsors, which is why Scheckter’s car has a different name from Sato’s. Even though both cars are run by the KV Racing Technologies team
    2) Two cars from the same team are not required to have liveries that are even remotely similar.
    3)Drivers can choose their own numbers.
    4)Even though IndyCar isn’t a spec series, Dallara produces all the chassis and Honda makes all the engines (why is this?)

    1. Burnout,

      The rule that cars of the same team should have the same liveries is a dumb idea that can only originate in the FIA/F1 circles. This is not the trend in most racing series in the world including IndyCar and NASCAR.

      IndyCar is effectively a spec series, or at least it has been that way in recent years due to economic issues and rising costs. From 2012, though there will be other chassis makers and engine makers, they’ll all be bolted to a safety cell produced by Dallara. But it won’t be considered a spec series anymore.

      1. Thanks PT. I was just going over the wikipedia article about IndyCar. I’m just a little surprised nobody was able to mount a consistent challenge to Dallara. I’m guessing the teams don’t have as much money to throw around like F1.

        1. You can thank Tony George for that. The damage he did to American open wheel racing with the CART/IRL split will be felt for years to come.

          1. hear, hear! I’m still sad that it was CART who bit the dust in the end. It always had the superior talent IMO.

          2. Yeah, Joey-Poey, CART had superior drivers, tracks, organisation, point system, cars and races.

        2. Burnout,

          Back in the heyday of American open wheel racing up to the early 90s when IndyCar and CART (later Champ Car) were one series, there were Dallara, Lola, Reynard, March, Penske, McLaren and even an unraced Ferrari chassis. As MVEilenstein pointed out, the split broke apart the sponsor base.

          But even then, IndyCar survived and there were bids from Lola, DeltaWing (and Panoz?) for the 2012 safety tubs, but Dallara got selected. None of the teams (with the exception of Penske, perhaps) have the technical expertise or financial muscle to build their own chassis, instead they’ve always used chassis from accomplished chassis manufactueres.

          But it has only made racing more exciting and pulsating, and they’ve never had to rely on DRS or degrading tyres to spice up the monotony as you have in Formula 1 these days.

          1. Hmmm… interesting opinion, while i’ve watched a lot more f1 races than indy ones, i’ve had the impression that in recent years indy has been even more processional than F1. And they do have that ‘overtake’ button, but it’s probably too weak to accomplish much.

    2. Elaborating a bit on PT’s original comment above:

      IndyCar is not by regulation a spec series, and has only become so as other chassis and engine manufacturers have left competition. General Motors (through Buick, then Oldsmobile and then Chevrolet when the Oldsmobile brand was phased out), Toyota and Nissan (through their Infiniti division) have all built engines and competed in IndyCar in past years, as well as chassis manufacturers G-Force/Panoz and Riley & Scott (who were purchased by Reynard a few years before Reynard went bankrupt) in past years.

      1. i’m pretty sure the dallara chassis used since 2003 is in fact mandated and not a de facto spec. prior to the dallaras, indy was on the brink of economic collapse. when faced with a less-than-full 33 car grid for the first time ever, tony george channeled his inner ecclestone and put out the call for any retired cars, regardless of pace, reliability or safety.

        you forgot to mention 1994’s dominant combination of penske and mercedes’ newly purchased ilmoor. the rules allowed old pushrod engines a greater displacement to compete with new OHC motors, so mb hpe/ilmoor built a new pushrod motor and blew everyone away.

        1. I didn’t forget about the Penske-Ilmor combination, as I was limiting the scope of my comments to IndyCar/Indy Racing League (which only goes back to 1996) and excluding the history of CART/ChampCar.

    3. Additionally, the reigning series champion has the exclusive option to use the number 1 on the car for the following year, but often will elect to continue with the same number for marketing reasons (such as driver merchandise featuring the number doesn’t have to be altered potentially every year).

    4. 1) Correct

      2) Correct

      3)No. The team owners select the numbers.

      4) It’s a spec series in my book but I dont know the correct answer. (why it isnt a spec series)

  6. Keith, the surface was originally a mixture of gravel, clay, pitch, and stone. It was, literally, a lethal idea. Five people died at the first running.

    Check out this article for more information.

  7. Group Lotus, PDVSA and Shell – three main sponsors who’ll be on the Monaco Grand Prix and Indy 500 grid this weekend.

    1. Let’s see if any of them can achieve success in both.

      1. Yeah, Fixy, worth watching.

  8. Also, you might be interested in this story about Simona de Silvestro. She’s the real thing.

    1. Interesting. Thanks for the link!

  9. Will be rooting for Dario and Simona for this one, but my money’s on Dixon. Hopefully Tagliani can carry the practice/quali pace and make a good run of it. :D

  10. This is by far the best weekend in terms of sporting events EVER.

    For those following tennis, today Del Potro and Djokovic are playing. Djokovic’s on a winning streak, with 40 games won in a row. An epic match against the US Open 2009 champ, who’s just returning from an injury.

    Then, tomorrow, the Champions League final between Barcelona and Manchester United.

    Then on sunday… The F1 Grand Prix at Monaco and the 100th edition of the Indy 500.

    Add to that the Turismo Carretera’s race at the supreme Oscar Alfredo Galvez circuit in Buenos Aires and the WRC round at Cordoba. Heh!

    1. Wow, Fer no.65, you’re truly a sporting encyclopaedia with the majority of pages devoted to motor racing – good!

      1. I love sports, I have to say.

        But it’s easy to love motorsports over here, we have 3 (or 4) very good motorsport series. It’s like 4 BTCC seasons running at the same time over the year, so it’s watching races every single weekend.

        Look at this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhQuzmA-DhM By far the best race ever at the Galvez.

    2. Don’t forget the Coca-Cola 600!

      1. I was thinking the same thing!

    3. …Add to that the 2010 Candian GP in my F1 2010 career!

    4. And the GP2 races… on a side-note, why is there no GP3 in Monaco?

      1. Because Formula Renault 3.5 races there. Expect that to be replaced by GP3 in the next 3-4 years, though.

        1. Because Formula Renault 3.5 races there. Expect that to be replaced by GP3 in the next 3-4 years, though.

          Seriously? I love the Formula Renault 3.5. It’s as good as GP2!

    5. And the Greatest event in Motorsport – The Isle of Man TT – gets under way this weekend with the start of practice on Saturday evening.

    6. And then on Monday there is the WSBK, and the start to the Isle of Man TT. Its going to be great.

    7. Agreed. It’s my birthday tomorrow and as well as a BBQ mid afternoon with friends between the showers it will be spent watching two of the greatest races.

      I’m supporting Pippa Mann, Sato and Weldon. I hope Weldon and Mann can have great races to find drives for further races this year and next.

  11. I might watch this race!
    And as I’m a Belgian, I will support Bertrand Baguette!

  12. Should be a fantastic race. I’m pulling for the Newman/Haas boys!

  13. Every time I see those oval setup noses, I can’t help but think how fragile they look compared to the relatively bulky noses of F1 cars.

    1. Vitaly Petrov would beg to differ.

  14. Those Dallara’s are really starting to show their age. Bring on the new chassis.

    Go Taku and Dario!

    1. And Tommas!

      Nice clarification in the article Keith: ” in one of the three KV Racing entries sponsored by (Group) Lotus.”

  15. Go sato!!! glad to see he’s in the top 10. He almost won the last race too.

    Today’s speed are slightly lower but even so their average speeds around the track in qualifying are around 30kph higher than the maximum speed seen at the fastest track on the F1 calendar, Monza.


  16. I’m going for the first time in my life (been watching since I can even remember, but my earliest memories were seeing Al Unser Jr. hold off Scott Goodyear in ’92). My brother and I will be in the infield. I’m going to be cheering on Helio since I want to witness history and see the first four time winner since Rick Mears. If not, I want to see the Andretti curse broken and Marco claim what was SO SO SO close to being his a few years ago. Alternately, being brought up on the Indy of yesteryear, I would love to see Graham Rahal win it and join his Dad on the trophy.

    1. Have fun Joey, think I’ll have to wait for someone to put the highlights up on youtube :P

      1. I’m sure you could find links to people streaming it if you catch the live blog on here :)

  17. The greatest thing about the Indy 500 is that it shows that (almost literally) going around in circles is in fact a very hard thing to succeed in!

    1. Ive seen a 1/2 of the races this year with this double-file restart business, on a track its pretty chaotic restarting from a yellow, but on an Oval…. this could be interesting.

      And its easily watched by those of us not in North America. Im not a fan of oval racing (or even Indycar/Nascar) but ive got time for the Indy 500.

  18. There you have an example of Group Lotus using the court results. ;)

    Look it’s a green and yellow Lotus car racing round the track, most certainly not a Team Lotus.

    Seriously though, how is that (group) Lotus allowed to race in green? That’s Team Lotus’ colour. It should be black and gold.

    1. Seems that judgements in British courts no longer apply here in the colonies.

  19. It’s strange looking at that entry list, I always think of indycar being very US-centric, but the drivers are very diverse in terms of nationality. Which is weird because I know in the UK at least not even the 500 gets any press coverage, and yet there are 6 British drivers there.

    1. I hear ya. That was part of the motivation behind the split, that too many foreign drivers were coming in and taking over the ranks. In fact, Sam Hornish Jr. was the last American to win at Indy.

      1. And funny enough, IRL quickly became filled with foreign drivers. I honestly like having more drivers from all over. Diversity makes for a more interesting group of drivers.

  20. It would be nice to see f1 cars reach these speeds, IMO f1 is the pinicale of motorsport, but I cringe when I see indycar speeds!!!

    It would be good to have one oval event in the f1 calander just to beat these speeds and cement it as the fastest and the best!!

    It might shine the light away from aero and back onto engine performance!!

  21. I am working in Indy so was lucky to be here this weekend for the race, going to be my first time at an Indy race on an oval, been to the Toronto Indy often, and even been to the Indy track for the 2007 F1 race… but I can’t wait to see all the stands filled around this huge track…. going to be great!

    Being Canadian, I think you can guess who I am rooting for…. no… not PT! :P

  22. Here in Asia EPSN will telecast the race live,please show local listing.

  23. Stayed up till 1:30am watching ‘Carb Day’ practice last night. hehe. Anyway, good luck to Will Power and Ryan Briscoe.

    1. Go the Aussies !!

  24. Also, I just realized, you forgot Danny Sullivan! I know he wasn’t hugely successful in F1, but he did race for a couple years AND won the 500 (who could forget the spin to win?)

  25. Bubblea (@)
    28th May 2011, 4:36

    I went to the 2007 US GP at Indy, and if you haven’t been there all I can say is that it is bigger than you can possibly imagine.

  26. They do not race in the rain on oval circuits, so wet weather could cause a postponement

    I see. I’d always wondered why I’d never seen a wet Indy 500!

  27. Doubt i’ll catch any of this to be honest but i’ll try catch some highlights somewhere.

  28. Find it funny that Keith you still have to explain which Lotus you’re talking about… This is just a farce…

    I’ve never watched the Indy 500 before, but I am this year, with my flatmate, a couple of cold beers and some physics revision, can’t wait!

    Also do love Danica Patrick, and females in motorsport in general.

  29. Does any major racing series use the Indy infield circuit any more? Or was the 2007 US GP the last major race on that layout?

    1. I think one of the bikes series, maybe MotoGP uses a modified version of the track, which no longer features that Turn 13.

    2. Never mind, I just looked it up. MotoGP uses it now.

  30. Nice aero setting for maximal speed. Never remarked the weird position angle of both wings and mirrors. Have you seen it?.

  31. So, this means that we’re going to have a Live Race Chat as with F1 races?!

    I LOVE IT!

    Please do LeMans 24h too, Keith!

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