Monday, April 26, 2010

Handicapping the 2010 Indy 500 entrants

The 2010 Indy 500 entry list was released last week and it features 40 car and driver combinations. For the first time in almost a decade, bump day will be full of action. IndyCar Garage breaks down the entry list and groups the drivers by their chances of winning the race.

Handicapping the 2010 Indy 500 entrants

The Favorites (9 Drivers)

Penske – Ryan Briscoe
Briscoe was in contention in 2009, but came up short. He started in the middle of row 1 last year.

Penske – Helio Castroneves
Helio will attempt to win his fourth Indy 500, which would put him a group of legends that include A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears, and Al Unser.

Penske – Will Power
Power excels on the road/street courses, but proved strong at Indy last year with a fifth place finish.

Ganassi – Dario Franchitti
2007 Winner is a seasoned veteran that experienced pit lane problems in 2009, started on the outside of row one last year.

Ganassi – Scott Dixon
2008 Winner will be a pole favorite and race day favorite.

Andretti Autosport – Tony Kanaan
Kanaan almost won in 2007, but lost due to the weather. A seasoned veteran on a good team

Andretti Autosport – Marco Andretti
Marco came within a few feet of victory lane in 2006 and had a strong run of 3rd in 2008. Marco lasted all of one turn in 2009.

Andretti Autosport – Danica Patrick
Danica stole the show at Indy in 2005 with a 4th and improved on that with a 3rd in 2009. She has finished in the top 10 four out of her five attempts at Indy.

KV Racing Technology – Paul Tracy
You could probably put Mario Moraes in this slot as well, but he doesn’t have the experience Tracy does. Tracy finished 9th last year, in his first Indy 500 since 2002 when he finished runner-up.

The hopeful drivers that need a break (8 Drivers)

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing – Justin Wilson
Justin has only raced in two Indy 500’s but he has shown great promise early in the 2010 season with his new team Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. Kansas should be a good gage of how well Wilson’s program will do on the ovals.

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing – Tomas Sheckter
Sheckter is a veteran driver, and if he gets a good car, look out. Sheckter knows one speed when he races, full throttle.

Andretti Autosport – Ryan Hunter-Reay
Hunter-Reay finished 6th in 2008, but 32nd in 2009 while driving for Vision. It should be interesting to see how he does with a good program from Andretti Autosport

Andretti Autosport – John Andretti
John’s arguably best chance to win at Indy could be this year. He barely made the field last year, he should be comfortably in this year. John will run Kansas as a tune up for Indy

Panther – Dan Wheldon
Wheldon won in 2005 and finished second last year, could be a sleeper pick this year if he stays out of trouble.

Panther – Ed Carpenter
Ed’s best results have come at the Indy 500. Ed finished 5th in 2008 and 8th in 2009. He will need some luck if he wants to claim a top five.

Foyt – Vitor Meria
Vitor finished 2nd in 2008, but suffered a horrible accident late in the 2009 race. Vitor is a heck of a driver if given the proper setup.

FAZZT – Alex Tagliani
Tags finished 11th in 2009, not bad for starting 33rd. Tags is a veteran driver, that is smart enough to be around at the end.

Happy to finish in the top half of the field (10 Drivers)

KV Racing Technology – Takuma Sato
It’s hard to see Sato adjusting this quickly to the ovals, running a full 500 miles would be a nice accomplishment

KV Racing Technology – E.J. Viso
Viso hasn’t started or finished better than 24th in his two Indy 500’s.

KV Racing Technology – Mario Maroes
Maroes started 7th last year, but finished 33rd. Maroes needs to run a full 500 miles this year.

De Ferran Dragon – Davey Hamilton
Davey is a seasoned Indy 500 veteran that should help young driver Raphael Matos, but would need some luck to finish in the top five.

De Ferran Dragon – Raphael Matos
Matos was the fastest rookie qualifier last year but finished 22nd, any improvement from last year would be good.

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing – Mike Conway
Conway drove the full 500 miles last year in route to a 18th place finish. Conway will benefit from an upgraded Dreyer & Reinbold Racing this year.

Sarah Fisher Racing – Sarah Fisher
Sarah expanded her program to include Jay Howard this year. Sarah herself , would gladly settle for a top 10, her best ever is 17th in 2009.

Sarah Fisher Racing – Jay Howard
Howard gets his first shot at Indy, after being removed from his seat in 2008 by Marty Roth Racing. Howard being safely in the field and finishing would be a good day.

Ganassi/Schmidt – Townsend Bell
Townsend finished 4th last year after starting 24th, expectations are high this year, with partnership from Ganassi.

N/H/L – Hideki Mutoh
Mutoh has two top 10’s in two starts, but his move to N/H/L team this year could impact his results. Mutoh will also suffer from being the sole driver at N/H/L. Mutoh is doing his best in a no win situation.

Just glad to be in the show! (6 Drivers)

Dale Coyne – Alex Lloyd
Alex qualified 11th last year , but had a much better team in Ganassi/Sam Schmidt. Alex’s skills don’t match the team is he driving for.

HVM – Simona De Silverstro
The Swish Miss has been a nice surprise in her rookie year, but don’t expect 2005 type fireworks to happen when she makes her début at the Speedway. A full 500 miles and little trouble would be obtainable goals.

Foyt – Jacque Lazier
Lazier hasn’t been officially confirmed as the third driver for Foyt, but all signs point that direction.

Foyt – A.J. Foyt IV
Anthony is back in action for the first time since Texas of last year. He’s been competing since he was 18, so by his mid 20’s he’s already considered a veteran.

FAZZT – Bruno Junquerira
Junquerira sat on the pole in 2001 and was bumped by his own teammate last year due to sponsorship obligations. It won’t be an easy task for Junquerira to drive a second car for a first year team. If he anybody can do it, he is qualified.

Rahal-Letterman – Graham Rahal
Graham hasn’t been confirmed for this seat either, so it’s purely speculation at this point. If Graham isn’t driving for his dad’s team at Indy, he doesn’t have a ride. He’s had a long fall since starting fourth last year, but the best thing Graham could experience this May would be a full 500 miles and finding a ride for the rest of the 2010 season.

Could be on the outside looking in (7 Drivers)

Dale Coyne – Milka Duno
Milka would be attempting to qualify for her fourth Indy 500, but if early 2010 is an preview of May, then she could struggle. Milka has struggled mightily on the road courses, so Kansas might be the best chance she has to get her skills in order if she wants to make the show.

Dreyer & Reinbold – Ana Beatriz
Ana hasn’t been confirmed for this seat either, but it appears that she will by the fourth D&R driver for May. Ana has competed before at Indy, but in a Indy Lights car. D&R will be stretched thin with four cars, so if Ana gets in trouble, it could spell trouble come qualification weekend.

Conquest - Bertrand Baguette
Baquette is a road racer from Formula 3.5 over in Europe. All of Baquette’s racing experience translates into little preparation for his first Indy 500. Conquest had one car miss the show last year as well.

Conquest – Mario Romancini
Out of the two Conquest cars, Romancini would appear to have the best shot of qualifying. Romancini had success on the ovals in Indy Lights and has driven in the Freedom 100.

Bryan Herta Autosport – Sebasitian Saavedra
Saavedra will be making his debut in the IZOD IndyCar and at the toughest track. Saavedra has no backup car and Bryan Herta Autosport mostly competes in Indy Lights, as with Beatriz, if he crashes prior to qualification weekend, it could spell trouble.

3G – Driver TBA
3G was on the wrong end of bump day last year with Stanton Barrot, and with no races under their belt in 2010, they could be looking at the same result. They were a severely underfunded team in 2009.

AFS – Driver TBA
AFS partners with Andretti Autosport in the Indy Lights series, so with Andretti Autosport fielding five drivers this year, it’s hard to see AFS receiving much support from Andretti Autosport. J.R. Hildebrand was rumored for this seat, but recently that trail has gone cold. AFS hasn’t done much in the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2010, so it’s hard to believe that they could pull a starting spot in the field of 33 with such tough competition.

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