Indianapolis Motor Speedway Position Pole - Image Credit: Ballhype.com
Indianapolis Motor Speedway Unifies With First Entrant List
The list features thirty-two drivers named for the 39 car entries, an increase of seven drivers over last year's initial entry list.
Penske has entered a 77 car just on the off chance that Sam Hornish (currently with a full year ride at NASCAR) commits and will be qualifying it.
Hopefully, Paul Tracy will end up in the no.22 Vision car. Contract sticking points with his former team, Forsythe, currently has him sidelined.
We know that there has to be others now that there is unification. Pacific Coast Motorsports is not listed but it is expected that Mario Dominguez and Tyler Tadevic (Team President) can pull a package together for the 500.
With all of the good drivers without a ride, there has to be more teams and personnel to rise up to the challenge.
Initial Entrant List (click to enlarge) - Image Credit: autosport.com
This Excerpted from The Canadian Press -
Open-wheel unification brings 12 rookies onto Indy 500 entry list
The Canadian Press – April 11, 2008
INDIANAPOLIS — The unification of U.S. open-wheel racing put 12 rookies, including recent IRL IndyCar Series race-winner Graham Rahal, among the initial list of 32 drivers entered in the Indianapolis 500.
Overall, 39 cars were on the entry list released Friday by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but most of the teams will have at least one backup car for each of their drivers.
"The entry list is very healthy this year," Speedway spokesman Ron Green said. "It's actually similar to what we've had in the last couple of years from an entry standpoint, but it's healthier from the standpoint that there are more car-driver combinations already established going into the month of May."
Practice for the May 25 race will begin with the annual rookie orientation program May 4.
The 19-year-old Rahal, son of car owner and former Indy winner Bobby Rahal, won his IndyCar Series debut last week in St. Petersburg, Fla., becoming the youngest winner of a major open-wheel race in North America. He'll drive the No. 06 Dallara entered by Newman/Haas/Lanigan, one of the former Champ Car teams that joined the Indy Racing League.
The recent merger, which also brings Newman/Haas/Lanigan teammate Justin Wilson of England, includes KV Racing (Oriol Servia and Will Power), Dale Coyne Racing (Bruno Junqueira and Mario Moraes) and Conquest Racing (Franck Perera and Enrique Bernoldi) among the new participants at Indianapolis.
"The unification of the sport, as we all expected, is making the entries, not only for the Indianapolis 500, but for the other IndyCar Series races, much stronger," Green said. "The people that really benefit are the fans that like to see all the car-driver combinations come together for the month of May."
Besides Rahal, the rookies include Hideki Mutoh of Japan, who replaced last year's Indy and series champion Dario Franchitti with Andretti Green Racing. Franchitti left the series to race in NASCAR this season. Former winner Sam Hornish Jr. also left the IRL for NASCAR and was replaced on Team Penske by veteran Ryan Briscoe.
The former winners entered this year are Penske's Helio Castroneves (2001 and 2002), Buddy Rice (2004) of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and Dan Wheldon (2005) of Ganassi Racing. The other rookies include Bernoldi, Moraes, Perera, Power, Servia, Wilson E.J. Viso, Jay Howard, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alex Lloyd.
Howard and Lloyd are former champions in the Indy Pro Series - now known as Firestone Indy Lights - the IRL's top developmental series. The 12 rookies would be the most to start the race since 13 newcomers started in 1997, the year after the IRL began.
For the second straight year, three women are entered: veterans Danica Patrick, Milka Duno and Sarah Fisher, who will drive for the first time as owner of her own team.