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The Field

The official entry list of drivers for the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

By JIM TOMLIN
Published March 30, 2007


20 Ed Carpenter

Team: Vision Racing

Age: 26

Hometown: Indianapolis

Notable: He only had two career top-10 finishes heading into last season, but came into his own in his second season with Vision Racing - the team owned by his stepfather and IndyCar series founder Tony George. He had six top-10s including a career-best fifth at Chicagoland, and started 2007 in the same form with sixth place at Homestead.

3 Helio Castroneves

Team: Team Penske

Age: 32

Hometown: Sao Paulo, Brazil

Notable: The two-time Indianapolis 500 winner came within three points of an elusive open-wheel title in 2006. He has four top-five points finishes in IndyCar and one in CART. He has 17 wins between CART and IndyCar; only teammate Sam Hornish (18, all in IndyCar) has more among active IRL drivers. He'll look to bounce back after being a bit off the pace at Homestead.

14 Darren Manning

Team: A.J. Foyt Enterprises

Age: 31

Hometown: North Yorkshire, England

Notable: After a season and a half at Chip Ganassi Racing in 2004-05, Manning bounced to the A1 Grand Prix series and the FIA GT Championship in Europe. He returns to the IndyCar series to drive for Foyt, replacing Felipe Giaffone, who parted ways with the team midway through last season. He has 25 career starts in the series; fourth place is his best finish, on three occasions.

55 Kosuke Matsuura

Team: Super Aguri Panther Racing

Age: 27

Hometown: Aichi, Japan

Notable: His best finish of sixth came last season at Homestead. Last week at the same track he led three laps before being caught in a three-car accident. He joins Panther after spending last season with Fernandez, though that car also carried the Super Aguri name. He is an avid golfer who says he would liked to have turned pro had he not been a racing driver.

4 Vitor Meira

Team: Panther Racing

Age: 30

Hometown: Brasilia, Brazil

Notable: Meira holds the series record for most starts without a victory at 60. But that streak might not extend much longer - he was fourth at Homestead, carrying on the form of last season in which he had seven top-five finishes, including fifth at St. Petersburg. Meira has been runnerup seven times in IndyCar, including the 2005 Indianapolis 500. He's in his second season with Panther.

7 Danica Patrick

Team: Andretti Green Racing

Age: 25

Hometown: Roscoe, Ill.

Notable: Patrick, the 2005 series and Indy 500 rookie of the year, turned 25 on Sunday. She will get a full season with the Dallara chassis after her former team, Rahal Letterman, used the Panoz the first half of 2006 - a season of frustration for Patrick, who was unable to earn a pole or lead a lap all year after bursting into stardom the year before.

 

26 Marco Andretti

Team: Andretti Green Racing

Age: 20

Hometown: Nazareth, Pa.

Notable: One of the most exciting talents in the series aims to avoid the sophomore slump and help haul Andretti Green - co-owned by father Michael - back to the top. For the second year in a row he starts in a deep hole after finishing last of 20 cars at Homestead-Miami Speedway. His spectacular run as a rookie at Indy bodes well.

11 Tony Kanaan

Team: Andretti Green Racing

Age: 32

Hometown: Salvador, Bahia, Brazil

Notable: Kanaan had a dream season in 2004, earning a championship with 15 consecutive top-five finishes and completing every lap of the season, a first for a major series in any discipline. Dropped to sixth in points last year, the best among four Andretti Green drivers in a down year by the team's high standards. He has 43 top-fives over the past four seasons, tops in the series.

5 Sarah Fisher

Team: Dreyer & Reinbold Racing

Age: 26

Hometown: Commercial Point, Ohio

Notable: After two seasons of trying her hand at stock-car racing, Fisher returns full-time to the IndyCar series, where she raced twice last season for Dreyer & Reinbold to launch her comeback bid. Her second place at Homestead in 2001 is the best by a female driver in a top-level, open-wheel series. She is engaged and plans to marry a week after the season ends.

27 Dario Franchitti

Team: Andretti Green Racing

Age: 33

Hometown: Edinburgh, Scotland

Notable: He's a licensed helicopter pilot who often flies to races close to his home in Nashville, Tenn. Earned the pole for last year's Grand Prix of St. Petersburg at a course record of 104.054 mph. Missed last season's finale with a concussion. His last victory came at the 2005 season finale, when he won at California Speedway from the pole. Has three top-five points finishes in CART and one in IndyCar.

2 Tomas Scheckter

Team: Vision Racing

Age: 26

Hometown: Cape Town, South Africa

Notable: Another young driver with plenty of experience, he's starting his sixth IndyCar season. He's starting his second year with Vision, his fourth IndyCar team. Scheckter's best finish last season was third at Milwaukee on his way to 10th in points. Led a race-high 85 laps as a rookie at the 2002 Indianapolis 500, then led the most laps at Indy - 63 - again the following year.

8 Scott Sharp

Team: Rahal Letterman Racing

Age: 39

Hometown: Norwalk, Conn.

Notable: The veteran shared the first IRL title in 1996 and is the only driver left from that inaugural season still racing in the series full-time. He hasn't missed a race since 1997 and holds the series record for starts with 130. When he joined Rahal Letterman he kept the car number he has had since 1998. His most recent victory was at Kentucky in 2005.

17 Jeff Simmons

Team: Rahal Letterman Racing

Age: 30

Hometown: Hartford, Conn.

Notable: After a couple of IndyCar starts in 2004, Simmons got a full-time ride last year when he took over the No. 17 car after Paul Dana died in a practice crash at Homestead. Simmons, who has a computer science degree from Boston College, responded with six top-10s in the final seven races. He had two Indy Pro top-fives last year in St. Petersburg.

10 Dan Wheldon

Team: Chip Ganassi Racing

Age: 28

Hometown: Emberton, England

Notable: The St. Petersburg resident won the inaugural IRL race in his adopted hometown in 2005. He won four of the first five races that season and took a series-record six overall to claim the title. He starts this year's St. Petersburg race atop the points after a win at Homestead.

22 A.J. Foyt IV

Team: Vision Racing

Age: 22

Hometown: Hockley, Texas

Notable: He raced for his grandfather's team, dabbled in stock cars, and now returns for his fourth full season in IndyCars, all by the age of 22. Foyt qualified ninth last week at Homestead, his best since 2004. He won the inaugural IndyPro Series title in 2002, at age 18. St. Petersburg will mark his 50th race in the IndyCar series. His top finish in the series is ninth, on two occasions.

15 Buddy Rice

Team: Dreyer & Reinbold Racing

Age: 31

Hometown: Phoenix

Notable: To Rice, 2004 might seem like a long time ago. That season he claimed three victories, including the Indianapolis 500, on his way to finishing third in points. Since then he has just four top-fives in 31 races and is starting over at Dreyer & Reinbold after he parted ways with the Rahal Letterman team. He got off to a decent start, 10th at Homestead.

9 Scott Dixon

Team: Chip Ganassi Racing

Age: 26

Hometown: Auckland, New Zealand

Notable: The still-young seventh-year open-wheel veteran adapts quickly: He won his series debut in 2003 at Homestead on his way to a series championship, led 15 laps in his first Indianapolis 500 that year and has taken the first two IndyCar races at Watkins Glen. His average road course finish of 3.5 is best in the series. His record as youngest Champ Car race winner fell last year.

6 Sam Hornish

Team: Team Penske

Age: 27

Hometown: Defiance, Ohio

Notable: The three-time and defending series champion holds the series record for victories with 18 and last year became the second driver to win the Indianapolis 500 and the IndyCar title in the same season. He and teammate Helio Castroneves are the only drivers to have won at least once in each of the past six seasons. Homestead was his 100th start in the series.