tampabay.com

30 men, 3 women, one jug of milk

By BRANT JAMES
Published May 22, 2007


 

 

Joe Gibbs Racing on Monday withdrew Aric Almirola from the entry sheet for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600. In his only other Nextel Cup race, the Tampa native, 23, crashed 46 laps in at Las Vegas on March 11. He currently is driving a part-time Busch schedule and is considered a strong candidate for JGR's eventual fourth car. Neither Almirola nor JGR returned calls.

CHEER FOR BRISCOE: Luczo Dragon Racing, owner of Ryan Briscoe's car, will donate more than half of its race earnings to charities selected by its "12 champion personality" partners. Colts coach Tony Dungy chose the Wilbur Dungy Endowment, a professorship at Jackson (Mich.) Community College, where his father taught for 16 years.

 

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."

Helio Castroneves

 

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.

Tony Kanaan

 

2 Fifth or better in three of his past four 500s. Runner-up in 2004.

Dario Franchitti

 

3 Held the pole until late in first-day qualifying but snuggles onto the front row.

Scott Dixon

 

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.

Dan Wheldon

 

6 Won in 2005 and had a stout car last year before mistakes cost him.

Ryan Briscoe

 

7 Former Ganassi castoff back and fast with a one-off team.

Danica Patrick

 

8 Best start (fourth) and finish (fourth) by a woman and first woman to lead the 500, all in 2005.

Marco Andretti

 

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.

Tomas Scheckter

 

10 He has crashed out of three of five starts in this race, including the past two.

Michael Andretti

 

11 His 430 career laps led at Indianapolis leads this year's field. Finished third last year in comeback.

Scott Sharp

 

12 Two best finishes, seventh and ninth, came the past two years. This is his 13th try and first with Rahal Letterman.

Jeff Simmons

 

13 Sharp's teammate wrecked 152 laps into last year's race.

Ed Carpenter

 

14 His stepfather and team owner, Tony George, is president of Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Darren Manning

 

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.

Buddy Rice

 

16 No luck at Indy since winning in 2004; broke his back in practice and missed the race in 2005; finished 26th last year.

Kosuke Matsuura

 

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.

Vitor Meira

 

19 The series' top unheralded driver is sneaky good at Indy; sixth, second and 10th while not driving for a juggernaut team.

Davey Hamilton

 

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.

Sarah Fisher

 

21 One of the sport's most popular drivers returns as a racer after testing the NASCAR pond.

Buddy Lazier

 

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).

Roger Yasukawa

 

23 Quickest of the last-chance qualifiers.

John Andretti

 

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.

Alex Barron

 

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.

Jon Herb

 

27 Car carries a decal reading, "Get Well Willie, " for mechanic Willie Ator, who was injured in a traffic accident May 13.

Jacques Lazier

 

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.

Milka Duno

 

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.

Marty Roth

 

30 At 48, the field's oldest qualifier.

Roberto Moreno

 

31 Replaced Stephan Gregoire, who broke a vertebra during a practice crash.

Richie Hearn

 

32 One of 13 not in the 2006 field; signed to race for co-owners Ron Hemelgarn and Jon Herb on Saturday.

Phil Giebler

 

33 The second and last rookie; it's the fewest since 1979, when Howdy Holmes was alone in his terror.