92nd Indianapolis 500

Largest rookie class since 1997 Thirteen rookies are entered in the Indianapolis 500, the most since 1997 when the 13-member rookie class included Kenny Brack, Greg Ray and Sam Schmidt. Eight rookies have won the Indianapolis 500, including Helio Castroneves in 2001. Can a rookie take the checkered flag in 2008? The next generation is here Andrettis, Foyts and Rahals will share the track for the first time since 1992 when Jeff, John, Mario and Michael Andretti, A.J. Foyt and Bobby Rahal were on the track together. That year, Rahal, Foyt and John Andretti all finished in the top 10. This year, Marco Andretti, A.J. Foyt IV, Larry Foyt and Graham Rahal will compete. Marco is the 21-year-old grandson of Mario and son of Michael. A.J. IV, who will turn 24 on Race Day, is the grandson of A.J. Foyt, and Graham is the 19-year-old son of Bobby. Can these next-generation drivers continue their family’s legacies at Indianapolis? Old rivalries renewed at Indianapolis The 92nd Indianapolis 500 will be the first under the unified IndyCar Series banner, meaning teams like Team Penske, Dale Coyne Racing, Andretti Green Racing and Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing will compete against each other in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” for the first time since 1995. Who will claim the title in the ultra-competitive field? Four winners in four races Four drivers have won the first four IndyCar Series races of 2008, marking the first time since 2004 that a season has started with four different winners. The top four drivers are separated by only 15 points. The last time five different drivers won the first five races was in 2003 when Scott Dixon opened the season with a victory at Homestead-Miami and went on to win the championship. Team Penske’s Gil de Ferran won the Indianapolis 500 that season (the fourth race). Will the IndyCar Series see a fifth driver win at Indy? Who will be the points leader at the end of the month? Points leader missing a victory Helio Castroneves leads the IndyCar Series standing on the strength of four top-five finishes. However, he has yet to record a victory in 2008. Can the “Dancing with the Stars” champion find his way to Victory Lane at Indianapolis, where he won in 2001 and 2002, and become the ninth driver with three or more victories in the Indianapolis 500? Or, will he continue a streak of points leaders who struggle at Indianapolis (Wheldon 22nd in 2007, Castroneves 25th in 2006)? Development series paying dividends Eight graduates of Firestone Indy Lights, the Indy Racing League’s development series founded in 2002, are entered in the Indianapolis 500, including 2007 champion Alex Lloyd and 2006 champion Jay Howard. In addition, Freedom 100 winners Ed Carpenter (2003) and Jaime Camara (2005) are entered. Will one of these graduates have a breakthrough performance? Race Notes: The Indianapolis 500 will be the 13th IndyCar Series event conducted at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Four past winners during the IndyCar Series era are entered - Dan Wheldon (2005), Buddy Rice (2004), Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002) and Buddy Lazier (1996). Four drivers entered have won the PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award presented by AutoZone at Indianapolis: Helio Castroneves (2003, 2007), Tony Kanaan (2005), Buddy Rice (2004) and Bruno Junqueira (2002). Eleven drivers entered in the Indianapolis 500 have combined to lead 996 laps at the Speedway (Dan Wheldon 204, Tony Kanaan 202, Helio Castroneves 162, Tomas Scheckter 148, Buddy Rice 91, Buddy Lazier 70, Bruno Juqueira 50, Scott Dixon 32, Danica Patrick 19, Marco Andretti 15 and Vitor Meira 3). Four IndyCar Series champions are scheduled to participate in the Indianapolis 500: Buddy Lazier (2000), Scott Dixon (2003), Tony Kanaan (2004) and Dan Wheldon (2005). Graham Rahal would become the fifth-youngest starter in Indianapolis 500 history (19 year, 142 days) if he qualifies for the race. A.J. Foyt IV (19 years, 0 days) is the youngest ever starter in the 500 while Marco Andretti (19, 76) is third. Sarah Fisher (19, 237) is currently fifth. Enrique Bernoldi and Justin Wilson may be rookies in the Indianapolis 500, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t competed at the Speedway before. Both drivers competed in Formula One events on the road course. Wilson finished eighth in 2003 while Bernoldi finished 13th in 2001. This is the second consecutive season that three women (Milka Duno, Sarah Fisher and Danica Patrick) are entered in the Indianapolis 500. Tony Kanaan has qualified in the top five in all six of his Indianapolis 500 starts. Other notable streaks include: Helio Castroneves, four consecutive top-10 starts; Danica Patrick, three consecutive top-10 starts; Marco Andretti and Scott Dixon, two consecutive top-10 starts. Vitor Meira has four consecutive top-10 finishes in the Indianapolis 500. Season-to-Date: ·         Helio Castroneves is the only driver to finish in the top five in all four races this season. Tony Kanaan is the only other driver to finish in the top 10 in all four races. ·         Helio Castroneves and Dan Wheldon are the only drivers to complete all 683 laps in 2008. Milestones & Records: Helio Castroneves will attempt to make his 102nd career IndyCar Series start. It would also be his 100th consecutive start. Helio Castroneves can establish an IndyCar Series record for most consecutive seasons with at least one win should he win the Indianapolis 500. Castroneves is tied with Scott Sharp with victories in seven consecutive seasons. Helio Castroneves can extend his IndyCar Series record for consecutive seasons with a pole to seven if he can win the PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award. Vitor Meira has gone 80 starts without a victory in the IndyCar Series, the longest drought of any IndyCar Series driver. Buddy Lazier is the only driver to start every Indianapolis 500 since 1995. Schedule (local time): May 4-5 Noon-5 p.m. – Rookie Orientation Program May 6-9 Noon-6 p.m. – IndyCar Series practice May 10 9-10 a.m. – IndyCar Series practice (two groups) 10-11 a.m. – IndyCar Series practice Noon-6 p.m. – PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award presented by AutoZone qualifying May 11 10:15-11:15 a.m. – IndyCar Series practice Noon-6 p.m. – IndyCar Series qualifying May 14-16 Noon-6 p.m. – IndyCar Series practice May 17-18 10:15-11:15 a.m. – IndyCar Series practice Noon-6 p.m. – IndyCar Series qualifying May 22 9-9:45 a.m. – Firestone Indy Lights practice 11-11:45 a.m. – Firestone Indy Lights practice 1:15 p.m. – SWE Pole Qualifying May 23 11 a.m. – Noon – IndyCar Series practice Noon – Firestone Freedom 100 pre-race 12:30 p.m. – Firestone Freedom 100 (40 laps/100 miles) 1:30-3 p.m. – Checkers/Rally’s Pit Stop Competition 3:30 p.m. – Carb Day Concert May 25 1 p.m. – 92nd Indianapolis 500-Mile Race (200 laps/500 miles)