30 men, 3 women, one jug of milk
By BRANT JAMES
Published May 22, 2007
BY BRANT JAMES Times Staff Writer
It's 33 hopefuls, 33 plotlines. Jim Nabors and Back Home in Indiana. Mari Hulman George and the command to start the engines. And milk for the winner. The Indianapolis 500 is a unique American sporting tradition in the spirit of the Kentucky Derby. Here's the field for Sunday's 91st running set by three qualifying sessions and "Bump Day."
1 Could become one of seven to win the 500 three or more times. Louis Meyer, Johnny Rutherford and Bobby Unser won three, A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears and Al Unser four.
2 Fifth or better in three of his past four 500s. Runner-up in 2004.
3 Held the pole until late in first-day qualifying but snuggles onto the front row.
4 Best finish (sixth) came last year; only member of the powerful Penske and Ganassi teams without a Borg-Warner trophy.
|Sam Hornish |
5 Defending series champ could be the first to win consecutive 500s since teammate Castroneves in 2001-02.
6 Won in 2005 and had a stout car last year before mistakes cost him.
7 Former Ganassi castoff back and fast with a one-off team.
8 Best start (fourth) and finish (fourth) by a woman and first woman to lead the 500, all in 2005.
9 Would have won in his first try last year if it was the Indianapolis 499 miles and 4, 380 feet. But it's not.
10 He has crashed out of three of five starts in this race, including the past two.
11 His 430 career laps led at Indianapolis leads this year's field. Finished third last year in comeback.
12 Two best finishes, seventh and ninth, came the past two years. This is his 13th try and first with Rahal Letterman.
13 Sharp's teammate wrecked 152 laps into last year's race.
14 His stepfather and team owner, Tony George, is president of Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
15 Hopefully, his hands have toughened up now. Bad blisters led to a late spin-out and bad run at the April 1 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
16 No luck at Indy since winning in 2004; broke his back in practice and missed the race in 2005; finished 26th last year.
17 Usually runs middle of the pack all day.
|A.J. Foyt IV|
18 What a story it would be for him to win on the 50th anniversary of his legendary grandfather and namesake's open-wheel debut. No chance.
19 The series' top unheralded driver is sneaky good at Indy; sixth, second and 10th while not driving for a juggernaut team.
20 This will be the 44-year-old's first start since a 2001 crash through the fence at Texas Motor Speedway nearly cost him both feet.
21 One of the sport's most popular drivers returns as a racer after testing the NASCAR pond.
22 One of six former 500 winners in the field with Al Unser Jr. (1992 and 1994), Castroneves (2001-02), Rice (2004), Wheldon (2005) and Hornish (2006).
23 Quickest of the last-chance qualifiers.
24 Part-time NASCAR driver has not started at Indy since 2004 but joins his cousin, Michael, and nephew, Marco.
|Al Unser Jr. |
25 Leads the field with 18 starts at Indy. He's no threat to A.J. Foyt, who made 35 consecutive from 1958-92.
26 No, not the former Florida State lineman. His CURB/Agaganian/Beck Motorsports team is co-owned by NASCAR quasi-agent and power player Cary Agaganian.
27 Car carries a decal reading, "Get Well Willie, " for mechanic Willie Ator, who was injured in a traffic accident May 13.
28 Most noted for allegedly being poked in the forehead by Patrick - that's the official story, at least - who urged him to use his head after they wrecked at California Speedway in 2005.
29 Attempts open-wheel's biggest race in just her second Indy Racing League start, giving the 500 three female entrants for the first time.
30 At 48, the field's oldest qualifier.
31 Replaced Stephan Gregoire, who broke a vertebra during a practice crash.
32 One of 13 not in the 2006 field; signed to race for co-owners Ron Hemelgarn and Jon Herb on Saturday.
33 The second and last rookie; it's the fewest since 1979, when Howdy Holmes was alone in his terror.