2011 Indianapolis 500 preview

IndyCar

2010 Indianapolis 500

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, Sam Schmidt Motorsports

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, KV Racing Technology - Lotus

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).

# Driver Nat Team Speed mph (kph)
1 77 Alex Tagliani CAN Sam Schmidt Motorsports 227.472 (366.081)
2 9 Scott Dixon NZL Target Chip Ganassi Racing 227.34 (365.868)
3 2 Oriol Servia ESP Newman/Haas Racing 227.168 (365.591)
4 99 Townsend Bell USA Sam Schmidt Motorsports 226.887 (365.139)
5 12 Will Power AUS Team Penske 226.773 (364.956)
6 98 Dan Wheldon GBR Bryan Herta Autosport 226.49 (364.5)
7 44 Buddy Rice USA Panther Racing 225.786 (363.367)
8 67 Ed Carpenter USA Sarah Fisher Racing 225.121 (362.297)
9 10 Dario Franchitti GBR Target Chip Ganassi Racing 226.379 (364.322)
10 5 Takuma Sato JPN KV Racing Technology – Lotus 225.736 (363.287)
11 14 Vitor Meira BRA A.J. Foyt Enterprises 225.59 (363.052)
12 4 JR Hildebrand USA Panther Racing 225.579 (363.034)
13 6 James Hinchcliffe CAN Newman/Haas Racing 225.572 (363.023)
14 30 Bertrand Baguette BEL Rahal Letterman Lanigan LLC 225.285 (362.561)
15 11 Davey Hamilton USA Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 225.25 (362.505)
16 3 Helio Castroneves BRA Team Penske 225.216 (362.45)
17 43 John Andretti USA Andretti Autosport 224.981 (362.072)
18 59 Ernesto Viso VEN KV Racing Technology – Lotus 224.732 (361.671)
19 22 Justin Wilson GBR Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 224.511 (361.315)
20 88 Jay Howard GBR Sam Schmidt – RLL Racing 224.483 (361.27)
21 7 Tomas Scheckter ZAF KV Racing Technology – SH Racing 224.433 (361.19)
22 82 Tony Kanaan BRA KV Racing Technology – Lotus 224.417 (361.164)
23 78 Simona de Silvestro SWZ HVM Racing 224.392 (361.124)
24 23 Paul Tracy CAN Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 224.939 (362.004)
25 7 Danica Patrick USA Andretti Autosport 224.861 (361.879)
26 6 Ryan Briscoe AUS Team Penske 224.639 (361.521)
27 26 Marco Andretti USA Andretti Autosport 224.628 (361.504)
28 83 Charlie Kimball USA Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing 224.499 (361.296)
29 38 Graham Rahal USA Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing 224.38 (361.105)
30 19 Alex Lloyd GBR Dale Coyne Racing 223.957 (360.424)
31 36 Pippa Mann GBR Conquest Racing 223.936 (360.39)
32 24 Ana Beatriz BRA Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 223.879 (360.298)
33 41 Ryan Hunter-Reay* USA A.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.

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86 comments on 2011 Indianapolis 500 preview

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  1. Cacarella said on 27th May 2011, 19:30

    Gooo Canada!!

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

    • xxiinophobia (@xxiinophobia) said on 27th May 2011, 19:56

      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. Don said on 27th May 2011, 19:31

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

  3. xbx-117 (@xbx-117) said on 27th May 2011, 19:38

    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.

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 27th May 2011, 20:08

      Why does everyone hate Danica?

      • MVEilenstein (@mveilenstein) said on 27th May 2011, 20:21

        Because she’s an egomaniac?

      • xbx-117 (@xbx-117) said on 27th May 2011, 20:23

        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.

      • Mark Hitchcock said on 27th May 2011, 20:36

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

      • xxiinophobia (@xxiinophobia) said on 27th May 2011, 20:45

        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).

      • Joey-Poey (@joey-poey) said on 27th May 2011, 21:59

        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.

        • xxiinophobia (@xxiinophobia) said on 27th May 2011, 23:23

          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.)

        • alelanza (@alelanza) said on 27th May 2011, 23:27

          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.

    • Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 28th May 2011, 2:13

      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! :(

  5. Burnout (@burnout) said on 27th May 2011, 19:40

    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?)

    • 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.

      • Burnout (@burnout) said on 27th May 2011, 19:57

        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.

        • MVEilenstein (@mveilenstein) said on 27th May 2011, 20:00

          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.

          • Joey-Poey (@joey-poey) said on 27th May 2011, 22:02

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

          • Damon (@damon) said on 28th May 2011, 9:52

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

        • 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.

          • alelanza (@alelanza) said on 27th May 2011, 23:31

            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.

    • xxiinophobia (@xxiinophobia) said on 27th May 2011, 20:23

      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.

      • F1Yankee (@f1yankee) said on 27th May 2011, 22:56

        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.

        • xxiinophobia (@xxiinophobia) said on 27th May 2011, 23:27

          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.

    • xxiinophobia (@xxiinophobia) said on 27th May 2011, 20:33

      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).

    • Slim Shady said on 27th May 2011, 22:01

      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. MVEilenstein (@mveilenstein) said on 27th May 2011, 19:40

    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.

  8. MVEilenstein (@mveilenstein) said on 27th May 2011, 19:42

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

  9. Victor_RO (@victor_ro) said on 27th May 2011, 20:01

    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. Fer no.65 said on 27th May 2011, 20:09

    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!

  11. Dan_the_McLaren_fan (@dan_the_mclaren_fan) said on 27th May 2011, 20:43

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

  12. Mikemat5150 (@mikemat5150) said on 27th May 2011, 20:50

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

  13. codesurge (@codesurge) said on 27th May 2011, 20:51

    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.

  14. GeeMac (@geemac) said on 27th May 2011, 20:53

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

    Go Taku and Dario!

  15. sato113 (@sato113) said on 27th May 2011, 21:18

    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.

    :(

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