With one of the biggest events in motor sports less than a few weeks away, we here at RacingRefresh.com would like to give you a breakdown of the confirmed entry list and all the story lines for the 105th running of the Indianapolis 500. 35 cars will attempt to qualify for the race. There are nine former winners in the field, the most since the 1992 Indianapolis 500. Cody Ware has withdrawn from the Indy 500, citing sponsorship concerns.
Rahal Letterman-Lanigan Racing: Three entries. (Honda)
The strongest team in terms of finishing position in last years Indianapolis 500 is the team of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. The two-time and defending Indy 500 champ Takuma Sato returns to defend his championship reign. Graham Rahal has always been strong when the series comes to the Brickyard, as he finished third in last year's event. In April's open test, Rahal was the fastest in no-tow times. Fun fact, Sato finished third in the 2019 Indy 500 and won in 2020. Rahal finished third in 2020. If history repeats itself in 2021, Rahal could walk away an Indy 500 Champion. Rounding out the team is Santino Ferrucci, who is a very strong oval racer in the IndyCar Series. His last time in the 500, he finished fourth in last year's event. On paper, a very strong team to beat for the 500
Top Gun Racing: One Entry. (Cheverlet)
A new team is coming to Speedway, Indiana with rookie R.C. Enerson behind the wheel with Top Gun Racing. This team hasn't even started an official IndyCar series race before, but what a debut for Top Gun. In a paint scheme that pays tribute to the great Al Unser in a "Johnny Lighting" inspired livery. Look for this team to be the underdog story of 2021.
Meyer Shank Racing: Two Entries (Honda)
A favorite in the Racing Refresh office, Meyer Shank Racing will field two cars in this years' event. Jack Harvey, the only full-time driver on the team, will be making his fifth start in the 500. He is coming off a 9th place finish in Indy last year and has been off to a great start in his 2021 campaign. Driving the second entry for the team will be three-time Indianapolis 500 champion, Helio Castroneves. It will look different not seeing him in that nuclear yellow paint scheme that he has become famous with, but Castroneves will bring much-needed veteran insight to the team that could make them contenders at the end of 500 miles.
Andretti Autosport: Six Entries (Honda)
Odds say the more numbers you have to win the race, the better your chances will be, and Andretti leads the field with six entries in this year's 500. Alexander Rossi is one of two drivers in the stable to be a 500 champion. We all remember his "clutch and coast" win in 2016. He will be a threat again for another 500 victory. Another former winner is "Captian America" himself, Ryan Hunter-Reay, the 2014 winner has had a slow start to the season, but can turn his season around with another 500 win to his resume. James Hinchcliffe returns as a full-time driver for Andretti in these years 500. A pole winner in 2014 and a seventh place run in the 2020 Indy 500, means the Mayor of Hinchtown does know how to get around the famed speedway. Colton Herta enters the 500 with a great start to the season after a win in the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, but with disappointing showings in Texas and Barber, he is down in the point standings but still a championship favorite. He finished 8th in the 500 last year, as he enters the 500, he will be fast, and he will be towards the front. Stefan Wilson has worked hard to get in the seat of a contending team in this years Indy 500. We last saw him in 2018, where he finished 15th in the Indianapolis 500. Qualifying will not be an issue, but speed on race day might be. He will have two weeks to figure it out. Last but certainly not least is Marco Andretti, who started on pole in the 2020 Indianapolis 500. Had disappointing race pace. If he does win the 500, 150,000 people will sound like a full capacity crowd.
Team Penkse: Four Entries (Chevrolet)
Rookie Scott Mclaughlin is making his Indianapolis 500 debut this year, and from what we saw at Texas earlier this year, he will have speed. Can Cinderlla shine on Sunday? Joining him at Penske is two-time series champion Joesf Newgarden. He has done everything you can possibly do in the IndyCar Series, except win the Indy 500. With the best finish of third in 2013 and two consecutive top-five finishes in the past two year, expect Newgarden to be up front at the end of 500 miles. Will Power; the 2018 Indy 500 Champion had a very poor performance last year with a 14th place finish. Look for him to rebound this year. Which leaves Simon Pagenaud as the last entry for Team Penske. The 2019 winner had a disappointing 22nd place run last year. He will be fast throughout the multiple practice session as he continues his quest for a second 500 win.
Arrow Mclaren SP: Three Entries (Chevrolet)
Pato O'Ward is the next brightest star in the IndyCar Series. Having already won his first oval race at Texas earlier this year. It would be safe to assume that the young driver will be upfront. The only thing that concerns me with him, and the rest of Arrow Mclaren SP, is strategy calls. If they make a great race plan, it will be hard to beat anyone from the team. Joining him will be two-time Indy 500 Champion, Juan Pablo Montoya, who is making his first start since 2017 at Indy. Look for him to knock the rust off as the 500 inches closer. Felix Rosenqvist rounds out the entries for Arrow Mclaren SP. Felix has had an average start to the 2021 season. I don't expect great things from him at the 500, but anything can happen in the 500.
Paretta Autosport: One Entry (Chevrolet)
Simona De Silvestro returns to the Indianapolis 500 as the only female driver attempting to qualify this year. Paretta Autosport can be considered a fifth Team Penke team, as funding and resources have been allocated to the team. The team the only team in IndyCar, run by a female owner as well. We last saw her in the 500 in 2015, where she finished 15th. Most insiders think she can make the 500 on speed, they just don't have any expectations for her in the race.
Ed Carpenter Racing: Three Entries (Chevrolet)
Being the team that is carrying momentum into the 500 is Rinus Veekay as he won the GMR Grand Prix of Indianapolis at the kickoff to the Month of May. He made his rookie start in the Indy 500 last year and finished 15th, look for him to improve this year. Ed Carpenter, the hometown hero, returns to the Indy 500 for the seventeenth time in 2021. He has the best finish of second in the 500, which came in 2018, and also has started on pole position three times. Look for Carpenter to be near the front at the start of the 500. Rounding out ECR is Connor Daly, who is full time again in the IndyCar Series and his first 500 with the team. He will be fast in no-tow times. As a whole, Ed Carpenter Racing is another team on the rise who could get a Borg-Warner Trophy.
Chip Ganassi Racing: Four Entries (Honda)
Scott Dixon was dominate the last time we came to the Indy 500. If he wins, he would tie Mario Andretti for second on the all-time winners list. Joining him is another Indy 500 winner in fan favorite driver, Tony Kanaan. TK was last seen in the 500 last year driving for A.J. Foytt. Now, Kannan was fast at Texas. I am sure he will be very competitive at Indianapolis. Joining them is Marcus Ericsson, who returns for his third 500 and second with CGR. Alex Palou scored his first win with CGR and it will be his second Indy 500 with the team this year. Veteran insight with young and hungry talent, make this a balanced team. CGR will be up front and are heavy favorites for a win.
A.J. Foyt Enterprises: Four Entries (Chevrolet)
Make no mistake about it, Sebastian Bourdais has helped improve A.J. Foyt Enterprises. The four-time champion returns to Indianapolis, still seeking his first 500 victory. He has the best finish of 7th in the 500. Look for him to have a solid day. Charlie Kimball returns to Indianapolis. Had a podium finish in 2015, Kimball know how to get around the Brickyard. Dalton Kellet has had a struggle to open up this season in 2021. He will have speed to qualify in, just don't expect much for the 500. The last driver to be entered for the team is JR Hildebrand. He is mostly remembered for the 2011 Indianapolis 500, where he crashed in to the frontstrecth exiting turn four. Which led to the late Dan Wheldon taking his only 500 win.
Carlin: One Entry (Chevrolet)
Max Chilton returns as the only entry for the British racing team. Having to withdrawal from the Indy GP, Chilton is looking to get his season back on track. He was fast in no-tow times in April's testing session. Look for people to be surprised on how well he runs.
Dreyer-Reinbold Racing: One Entry (Chevrolet)
When the team was asked on who should they put in they car, the team didn't hesitate on whom it should be. Their choice was Sage Karam. To me, he wouldn't be the first choice, but Karam has potential when it comes to oval racing in the series. He will be a solid mid-pack driver in the field. No danger for him getting bumped for the show.
Dale Conye Racing: Two Entries (Honda)
The last team we will be taking a look at is the two drivers racing for Dale Conye. Pietro Fittapaldi makes a return for his name sake. As it is the first time a Fittapaldi has been entered sine 1995. The last time a Fittapalidi entered the 500 was Christian, where he finished second. He will attempt to make the 500 for the first time. Joining him will be Ed Jones, who will be returning from a year absence. When he last ran in the 500, he finished third. The last time his car was on track, it finished fourth in 2020.