By J Douglas Boles
INDIANAPOLIS, Thursday, April 14, 2011 – Four past winners and four IZOD IndyCar Series champions are among the drivers named to the 42 entries filed for the 2011 Indianapolis 500, scheduled for Sunday, May 29 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Eighty-three cars comprise the 42 entries, the most entries since 2002. It’s the third consecutive year with at least 40 entries on the list. It’s also the eighth consecutive year in which the number of entries has climbed or held steady.
Defending Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti (2007, 2010) leads the list of past winners, which also includes Helio Castroneves (2001-02, 2009), Scott Dixon (2008) and Dan Wheldon (2005). Franchitti will attempt to become just the 10th driver to earn at least three Indianapolis 500 victories, while Castroneves is trying to become just the fourth four-time winner in the illustrious history of the race, joining A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears.
Series champions include Dixon (2003, 2008), Franchitti (2007, 2009, 2010), Tony Kanaan (2004) and Wheldon (2005).
Thirty-five drivers have been named to the 42 entries filed this year for the 33 starting spots in “The Most Important Race in History.” This guarantees plenty of dramatic action on both qualifying days, Pole Day on Saturday, May 21 and Bump Day on Sunday, May 22.
The 2010 Indianapolis 500 is scheduled to start at noon (ET) Sunday, May 29 and will be broadcast live by ABC, the IMS Radio Network and XM 145/Sirius 212. Opening Day is scheduled for Saturday, May 14, which also will feature the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500 Celebration of Automobiles.
There is outstanding depth and quality in this year’s field. Besides four past race winners and four series champions, 18 of the 35 drivers named to entries have won at least one race in either IZOD IndyCar Series or Champ Car World Series/CART competition.
Five drivers comprise a strong rookie crop: IZOD IndyCar Series rookie regulars JR Hildebrand, James Hinchcliffe, James Jakes and Charlie Kimball, and Jay Howard.
Plenty of young talent that recently advanced through the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system also will be on display, as the field includes three of the last five Firestone Indy Lights champions – Howard (2006), Raphael Matos (2008) and Hildebrand (2009). Other recent Firestone Indy Lights graduates on the entry list include Marco Andretti, Ana Beatriz, Ed Carpenter, Kimball, Graham Rahal and Sebastian Saavedra.
Three women were among the drivers named to entries: 2005 Chase Rookie of the Year Danica Patrick, 2010 Chase Rookie of the Year Simona De Silvestro and Beatriz.
Andretti Autosport is involved in five entries, more than any other team. The team, which won the 2005 and 2007 Indianapolis 500, filed four entries and is co-entrant along with NASCAR legend Richard Petty on another entry.
Former race winners (4): Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002, 2009), Dan Wheldon (2005), Dario Franchitti (2007, 2010), Scott Dixon (2008).
Former pole winners (4): Bruno Junqueira (2002), Helio Castroneves (2003, 2007, 2009, 2010), Tony Kanaan (2005), Scott Dixon (2008).
Rookies (5): JR Hildebrand, James Hinchcliffe, Jay Howard, James Jakes, Charlie Kimball.
Youngest: Sebastian Saavedra, 20.
Oldest: Davey Hamilton, 48.
Most previous starts: John Andretti, 11.
2011 Indianapolis 500 tickets: Tickets are on sale for the 100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500, “The Most Important Race in History,” on Sunday, May 29, 2011 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Race Day ticket prices start at just $30. Fans can buy tickets online at www.imstix.com, by calling the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700, or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area, or by visiting the ticket office at the IMS Administration Building at the corner of Georgetown Road and 16th Street between 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Monday-Friday.
Children 12 and under will be receive free general admission to any IMS event in 2011 when accompanied by an adult general admission ticket holder.
Tickets for groups of 20 or more also are on sale. Contact the IMS Group Sales Department at (866) 221-8775 for more information.