Fernando Alonso’s last chance to win the Triple Crown until at least 2023 is just one of the compelling storylines on the capacity grid for Sunday’s Indianapolis 500. Here’s how they line up, and who are the notable contenders for victory in the postponed running of the world’s fastest race.
1. Marco Andretti
#98 Andretti Herta 371.867kph / 231.067mph
Having come within six-hundredths of a second of winning the race on his debut 14 years ago, Marco Andretti’s subsequent career has not produced the success that tremendous teenage drive hinted at. Now 33, this is his best chance to add his likeness to the Borg-Warner trophy alongside grandfather Mario’s.
2. Scott Dixon
#9 Ganassi 371.84kph / 231.051mph
Dixon opened his 2020 account with three wins on the bounce which put him on course for a sixth IndyCar title. A slip-up here could cost him dearly in this double points race, however. He took his sole Indianapolis 500 victory 12 years ago, then survived a terrifying crash during the 2017 race. He ran superbly well in practice and came stunningly close to denying Andretti pole position.
3. Takuma Sato
#30 RLL 371.315kph / 230.724mph
Fittingly, Japan’s only Indy 500 winner completes a sweep of the front row for Honda. Takuma Sato’s 2017 triumph followed a near-miss in 2012 when he almost denied Dario Franchitti victory, only to spin into the wall on the last lap.
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4. Rinus VeeKay
#21 Carpenter 371.281kph / 230.703mph
Chevrolet have a rookie to thank for their highest starting position in the race – Rinus VeeKay was their only representative in the ‘fast nine’ shoot-out for pole position. He’s had a rough start to his IndyCar career this year with a few crashes, but as ever Ed Carpenter’s team knows how to tune a car for the Brickyard better than any other track.
5. Ryan Hunter-Reay
#28 Andretti 371.191kph / 230.647mph
No wonder Fernando Alonso was so keen to get into an Andretti-Honda: The six-strong squad look like a force to be reckoned with, with all bar one of their cars in the top 10 places. Veteran Hunter-Reay, the 2014 race-winner, endured a win-less 2019 campaign.
6. James Hinchcliffe
#29 Andretti 369.939kph / 229.869mph
Having lost his full-time seat with Schmidt Peterson when the team merged with McLaren, Hinchcliffe has a part-time ride for 2020. He took pole for 2016 Indy 500, one year on from a life-threatening crash at track, and would undoubtedly be a popular winner.
7. Alex Palou
#55 Coyne Goh 369.627kph / 229.675mph
Anyone who kept an eye on Palou in the junior categories will know not to overlook the other Spanish driver in the race. He turned up in Japanese Super Formula last year and finished third in the championship, winning once and taking three pole positions against a field packed with experience and talent.
8. Graham Rahal
#15 RLL 369.15kph / 229.379mph
Like the pole-winner, another driver with a famous family name to live up to. RLL have made a decent start to 2020 mixed with some rotten luck, notably at Road America, but that hasn’t stopped Rahal helping himself to a couple of podiums.
9. Alexander Rossi
#27 Andretti 368.915kph / 229.233mph
Having chased the Penske drivers hard for last year’s title, former F1 driver Rossi has seemed out of sorts this year. He may be turning the corner, however, having taken a podium finish at Road America. His astonishing, fuel-sipping run to victory as a rookie in this race four years ago won’t be forgotten in a hurry.
10. Colton Herta
#88 Andretti Harding Steinbrenner 371.395kph / 230.774mph
Highly rated by former British Formula 4 team mate Lando Norris, Herta scored a brilliant pair of wins as a rookie last year.
11. Marcus Ericsson
#8 Ganassi 371.059kph / 230.565mph
He may be one place ahead of fellow sophomore Swede Felix Rosenqvist in the points, but the ex-F1 driver hasn’t impressed as highly as his Ganassi team mate since arriving in IndyCar.
12. Spencer Pigot
#45 RLL Citrone Buhl 371.016kph / 230.539mph
The part-time driver had a terrific run in the road course race at Indianapolis earlier this year, and should have the benefit of a well-sorted car underneath him this weekend.
13. Josef Newgarden
#1 Penske 370.625kph / 230.296mph
Astonishingly, none of Roger Penske’s four cars qualified in the top four rows. They are led by reigning, two-time champion Newgarden, the only one of the four without an Indianapolis 500 victory to his name.
14. Felix Rosenqvist
#10 Ganassi 370.557kph / 230.253mph
Overlooked by F1, the talented Rosenqvist took an overdue breakthrough win at Road America earlier this year. As is often the case with European arrivals in IndyCar, he hasn’t looked quite as comfortable on the ovals, but has the benefit of a year’s experience.
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15. Patricio O’Ward
#5 McLaren SP 370.491kph / 230.212mph
Both Alonso’s junior team mate’s out-qualified him. O’Ward lines up behind the man who denied him victory at Road America earlier this year.
16. Ed Carpenter
#20 Carpenter 370.488kph / 230.21mph
Carpenter has started from pole position three times at Indianapolis, but didn’t look his usual self in practice and starts from the middle of the pack.
17. Zach Veach
#26 Andretti 370.085kph / 229.96mph
The sixth Andretti entry, Veach hasn’t quite had the pace of his team mates, and is yet to place higher than 23rd in three Indy 500 appearances.
18. Conor Daly
#47 Carpenter 370.076kph / 229.954mph
Having given Carlin a surprise pole position at Iowa, Daly is in a third Carpenter entry this weekend.
19. Santino Ferrucci
#18 Coyne Vasser Sullivan 370.026kph / 229.923mph
A controversial figure, Ferrucci left Formula 2 in disgrace after collecting a ban, but has found a welcome home in IndyCar. He’s taken over the Coyne car previously driven by Sebastien Bourdais, but will need to make progress on Sunday to catch up with team mate Palou.
20. Jack Harvey
#60 Meyer Shank 369.925kph / 229.861mph
Harvey has had some remarkably strong qualifying performance for Meyer-Shank, but the one-car squad have their work cut out against the big teams at Indianapolis.
21. Oliver Askew
#7 McLaren SP 369.762kph / 229.759mph
McLaren SP have improved rapidly as the season has gone on, and Askew took a breakthrough podium at Iowa last month.
22. Will Power
#12 Penske 369.667kph / 229.7mph
Another champion and former Indy 500 winner, Power is only fifth in the championship so far this year after some poor luck in the opening rounds.
23. Tony Kanaan
#14 Foyt 368.787kph / 229.154mph
Another past Indianapolis 500 winner, this would normally be the point at which Kanaan is referred to as a ‘crowd favourite’ only, sadly, there will be no crowd this year. Foyt’s regular entry has expanded to three cars for the race, allowing for the accommodation of Kanaan, who stepped down from full-time racing at the end of last year. As with all the Chevrolet entries, they had to cope with a lack of grunt in qualifying, but will hope to be more competitive in the race, where Kanaan’s experience and racecraft should pay dividends.
24. Dalton Kellett
#41 Foyt 368.346kph / 228.88mph
Newcomer Kellett has done a creditable job by out-qualifying Foyt’s regular driver Kimball. The 27-year-old spent a long time on IndyCar’s junior ladder – he made his Indy Lights debut while Max Verstappen was still in go-karts…
25. Simon Pagenaud
#22 Penske 368.275kph / 228.835mph
He won from pole position last year, but Simon Pagenaud will have to work his way to the front to repeat his victory on Sunday. He is undoubtedly capable of doing so with the might of Penske behind him. Just don’t mention his virtual appearance at the Speedway earlier this year.
26. Fernando Alonso
#66 McLaren SP 368.165kph / 228.767mph
Inevitably a focus of attention, Alonso’s third attempt at completing his ‘Triple Crown’ got off to a somewhat rocky start, with a crash in practice. During the shortened pre-race build-up, McLaren SP will still re-fettling his car during qualifying, leading to a ninth-row start. It’s at least a marked improvement on his 2019 non-qualification. Given McLaren SP’s increasingly strong performances in recent races, and with well-regarded race engineer Craig Hampson calling the shots, it would be no surprise to see Alonso back in the mix as he was during his remarkable debut three years ago.
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27. James Davison
#51 Coyne Ware Byrd Belardi 368.132kph / 228.747mph
The Australian is back for his sixth crack at the Indianapolis 500 in a third Coyne entry, but has seldom troubled the front runners in previous appearances and thus far given little indication that will change this year.
28. Helio Castroneves
#3 Penske 367.53kph / 228.372mph
The 45-year-old’s pursuit of a record-equalling fourth Indianapolis 500 victory goes on. He came close three years ago, but had to give best to Sato.
29. Charlie Kimball
#4 Foyt 366.54kph / 227.757mph
Foyt’s regular driver is on the penultimate row of the grid, behind both his part-time team mates. His bravery could verge on the reckless at times earlier in his career, but experience appears to have tempered that roughness.
30. Max Chilton
#59 Carlin 365.808kph / 227.302mph
While the former Formula 1 driver had said he no longer wanted to race on ovals, he is prepared to make an exception for this race. Since entering IndyCar two years ago crack junior squad Carlin have had to trim back their entry to a single car for 2020, which is unfortunately reflected in their qualifying position.
31. Sage Karam
#24 Dreyer & Reinbold 365.48kph / 227.099mph
The two Dreyer & Reinbold entries occupy the back row of the grid. Fielding two cars on a temporary basis, and adjusting to the new variable arising from the introduction of the Aeroscreen, has made for a difficult Indianapolis 500 so far. This is Karam’s seventh appearance in the race but ninth on his debut remains his best result.
32. JR Hildebrand
#67 Dreyer & Reinbold 364.26kph / 226.341mph
Hildebrand has a great affinity for ovals – and, of course, so nearly won this race on his debut nine years ago – but like Karam is up against it this year at D&R.
33. Ben Hanley
#81 DragonSpeed 358.749kph / 222.916mph
Some way off the pace in qualifying, the sole Dragonspeed car of Hanley needs to find further improvements before race day.
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