Juan Pablo Montoya, Penske, Indianapolis, 2014

F1 stars return to recapture Indianapolis success

2014 Indianapolis 500 previewPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Jack Hawksworth, Herta, Indianapolis, 2014Two F1 race winners who won the Indianapolis 500 before will return to the Brickyard on Sunday with the goal of repeating their previous successes.

But Juan Pablo Montoya and Jacques Villeneuve are up against the fastest and most closely-matched field in the 103-year history of the race.

Speeds have risen around the Brickyard since the introduction of the new Dallara DW12 chassis and V6 turbo engines two years ago. Last year Tony Kanaan post the fastest average speed for a winner in the Speedway’s history: 187.433mph (301.644kph).

In qualifying this year the 2.1 second gap between the fastest and slowest qualifying runners (over four-lap runs) was the closest ever seen at Indianapolis. The average speed of the field, 229.382mph (369.155kph), is also a new record.

And while Ed Carpenter’s pole position speed of 231.067mph (371.866kph) may be 6mph off Arie Luyendyk’s 1996 record, it’s another step towards IndyCar’s stated aim of reviving the pursuit of ultimate speed at the Speedway.

It’s also a lot quicker than Kurt Busch is used to. The 2004 NASCAR champion will compete in Sunday evening’s race at Charlotte after taking the green flag at Indianapolis. NASCAR race once per year at the Brickyard, and last year’s pole time was over 40mph slower than Carpenter’s.

Juan Pablo Montoya, Penske, Indianapolis, 2014The one-off appearances from Villeneuve and Buch, and Montoya’s return to a full-time seat, are sure to bring new attention to a series which is striving to regain its lost glory.

But picking a winner from such a close field is a tough ask. Carpenter shares the front row with James Hinchcliffe and championship leader Will Power – none of which have ever won at Indianapolis before.

But Power’s Penske team mate Helio Castroneves is seeking a fourth victory from row two. And he’s doing so in a car which bears one of the iconic Indianapolis liveries – the distinctive yellow of Pennzoil.

With Montoya also in the top ten, the three Penske cars line up in front of the Ganassi continent, which includes last year’s winner Tony Kanaan. But the grid ultimately counts for little in a race which will last well over two-and-a-half hours, and the silver Ganassi cars were quick in practice.

2014 Indianapolis 500 grid

Here’s how the 33 cars will line up:

# Driver Team Engine Speed (mph) Notes
1 20 Ed Carpenter Carpenter Chevrolet 231.067 Owner-driver on pole for second year in a row, finished tenth last year.
2 27 James Hinchcliffe Andretti Honda 230.839 Recovered from concussion sustained in race on Indy road course two weeks ago
3 12 Will Power Penske Chevrolet 230.697 Has won 19 IndyCar races but just once on an oval – at Fontana last year.
4 3 Helio Castroneves Penske Chevrolet 230.649 Another Indy 500 win would tie him with record-holding four-time winners.
5 77 Simon Pagenaud Schmidt Honda 230.614 Won the road course race and has finished in the top five at every round so far.
6 25 Marco Andretti Andretti Honda 230.544 Grandson of F1 champion and IndyCar great is yet to win in a race in the DW12.
7 34 Carlos Munoz Andretti Honda 230.146 Stunned last year with second on the grid and at the flag. First full season.
8 67 Josef Newgarden SFHR Honda 229.893 On an upward trajectory: second at Baltimore last year and raced well at Long Beach.
9 21 J.R. Hildebrand Carpenter Chevrolet 228.726 No full-time seat this year. Crashed while leading his first 500 at final turn in 2011.
10 2 Juan Pablo Montoya Penske Chevrolet 231.007 One Indy 500 start; one win. Back in single-seaters after seven years away.
11 9 Scott Dixon Ganassi Chevrolet 230.928 Three-times IndyCar champion had a single Indy 500 win in 2008.
12 26 Kurt Busch Andretti Honda 230.782 Will also race in NASCAR’s 600-mile race on same day. Quick but crashed in practice.
13 98 Jack Hawksworth Herta Honda 230.506 Led 31 laps around road course and deserved better than seventh on his fourth start.
14 19 Justin Wilson Dale Coyne Honda 230.256 Periodic winner with Dale Coyne but tends to lose out in the pits.
15 7 Mikhail Aleshin Schmidt Honda 203.049 IndyCar’s first Russian driver, won the Formula Renault 3.5 title in 2010.
16 10 Tony Kanaan Ganassi Chevrolet 229.922 Took an overdue and popular first Indianapolis 500 win last year.
17 11 Sebastien Bourdais KV Chevrolet 229.847 Dominant in Champ Car, unsuccessful in F1, yet to win a race in IndyCar.
18 16 Oriol Servia RLL Honda 229.752 Spanish veteran of US racing had a career-best fourth at Indianapolis two years ago.
19 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Honda 229.719 Redeemed himself with wet weather win in Barber after Long Beach shunt.
20 15 Graham Rahal RLL Honda 229.628 Second-generation driver still looking for follow up to maiden 2008 win.
21 18 Carlos Huertas Dale Coyne Honda 229.251 Switched from European racing after two years in Formula Renault 3.5.
22 63 Pippa Mann Dale Coyne Honda 229.223 The only woman in the field, making her first start of the year.
23 14 Takuma Sato Foyt Honda 229.201 As he was in F1: fast, fearless but ragged. Won at Long Beach last year.
24 68 Alex Tagliani SFHR Honda 229.148 Led a lap last year but last win at any level was now six years ago.
25 6 Townsend Bell KV Chevrolet 229.009 More commonly found in the commentary team these days, took best of fourth in 2009.
26 83 Charlie Kimball Ganassi Chevrolet 228.953 Took surprise win at Mid-Ohio last season but hasn’t repeated that form yet this year.
27 5 Jacques Villeneuve Schmidt Honda 228.949 Returning to the race he won in 1995 before the split happened.
28 33 James Davison KV Chevrolet 228.865 Dabbled in IndyCar two years ago, Indy Lights runner-up in 2009.
29 41 Martin Plowman Foyt Honda 228.814 Shared the WEC LMP2 title with his Oak team mates last year.
30 8 Ryan Briscoe Ganassi Chevrolet 228.713 Back at Ganassi for this season after a five-year stint at Penske which ended in 2012.
31 22 Sage Karam Ganassi Chevrolet 228.436 Reigning Indy Lights champion is making his IndyCar debut.
32 17 Sebastian Saavedra KV Chevrolet 228.088 Fortunate pole for road course race led to carnage when he failed to get away.
33 91 Buddy Lazier Lazier Chevrolet 227.920 Won the first post-split 500 in 1996, the 46-year-old is making up the numbers now.

Indianapolis 500 gallery

Watching the Indianapolis 500

I will feature on BT Sport’s live coverage of Indianapolis 500 on Sunday. The build-up starts at 3:30pm with a special edition of Motorsport Tonight, then the main broadcast begins at 4:30pm with a race start time of 5pm.

For those of you not in the UK you can find and share IndyCar coverage details here:

And as always F1 Fanatic Live will be running throughout the race – look out for the live page on the site shortly after the Monaco Grand Prix.

Will Power, James Hinchcliffe, Ed Carpenter, Indianapolis, 2014

Over to you

Who’s your tip for success in the Indianapolis 500? How do you think Montoya and Villeneuve will fare? Have your say in the comments.


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Images © IndyCar/Chris Jones