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Indianapolis 500: 5 drivers to watch

By BRUCE LOWITT, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 26, 2002


GIL DE FERRAN

GIL DE FERRAN

CAR: No. 6 Dallara-Chevy.

STARTING POSITION: 14th.

BEST INDY 500 FINISH: Second (2001).

NOTES: De Ferran, part of this year's seven-driver Brazilian invasion, also was the second half of car-owner and former CART dominator Roger Penske's first 1-2 finish at the Indianapolis 500. He also won consecutive CART championships before Penske and his drivers defected to the Indy Racing League.

HELIO CASTRONEVES

CAR: No. 3 Dallara-Chevy.

STARTING POSITION: 13th.

BEST INDY 500 FINISH: First (2001).

NOTES: The other half of Penske's Brazilian juggernaut. You can't do much better than finish first in your first Indy 500. He dominated the race, leading for 57 laps, and held off Gil de Ferran at the end. The best reason to look forward to another Castroneves victory: watching him climb the fence to celebrate it as he did last year.

SAM HORNISH JR.

CAR: No. 4 Dallara-Chevy.

STARTING POSITION: Seventh.

BEST INDY 500 FINISH: 14th (2001).

NOTES: Considered the driver most likely to be the open-wheel star that Jeff Gordon was expected to be before changing lanes and taking NASCAR by storm. Hornish's finish in last year's race was his only one out of the top 10 in 2001 when he was the runaway Indy Racing League champion.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA

CAR: No. 33 G-Force Chevy.

STARTING POSITION: Pole.

BEST INDY 500 FINISH: Fifth (2001).

NOTES: One of eight CART drivers running in the centerpiece of the IRL schedule and the leader of the Brazilian parade that clinched four of the top five starting positions. He has matured since his rookie season, and got his first oval-track win in Japan.

ARIE LUYENDYK

CAR: No. 55 G-Force Chevy.

STARTING POSITION: 24th.

BEST INDY 500 FINISH: First (1990, 1997).

NOTES: Luyendyk retired from racing after 1999, even becoming a TV racing analyst before realizing he left too early. He returned last year, qualified sixth on pole day and finished 13th, two laps down in his only IRL race. He has started farther back only once.

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