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2010 Indianapolis 500 - Bump day - A run through of the teams and drivers to watch

Published by Pat W

Today marks 'Bump Day', the final day of qualifying for the 94th Indianapolis 500-Mile Race. The front-running cars qualified yesterday - today sets the balance of the field, positions 25-33. As it is lower-order qualifying I don't expect many Sidepodders to watch but I do hope this post serves as a primer for the race, and I hope you join us to watch it next Sunday! Next week's race coverage starts at 5pm UK with the race getting going at about 6, and it really is worth watching the build-up.

Today's action gets under way at 5pm and runs for six hours live on - I reckon the last hour or so will be the fun bit. The format is as yesterday's but it doesn't go into a shootout at the end, check out Leigh's post for more. If there is nobody qualifying then the session will revert to open practice. Takuma Sato will be aiming to qualify today after his accident yesterday. Here are links to timing and a live starting lineup.

The Indy 500 is the biggest race in the world by spectator number and Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) is the oldest race track still in operation today, so this event should be considered as important as the most historic F1 events like Monaco and Monza. The top teams in the series are just as professional as the race teams in Formula 1 - they just don't have the manufacturing capability of F1 teams. The type of racing seen at Indy isn't like most ovals either, it is very much like an F1 race in the refuelling era with different strategies playing out from start to finish. If there is one oval race any F1 fan should watch without feeling 'guilty', this is it.

Runners and riders

Assuming Leigh and I have convinced you to watch the race - or even qualifying - I'm guessing the next hurdle is the unfamiliar participants. Here is a guide to this year's entry with the focus on those likely to run up front and win the race, and shorter notes on the rest of the field. You'll see teams can run any number of cars and they do not have to be in identical liveries.


Team Penske

Helio Castroneves, Team Penske
Helio Castroneves, Team PenskeCredit:

Roger Penske's team is McLaren-like in terms of the way they race though perhaps more like Ferrari in achievements. The team has won races in every series it has entered including F1, and multiple championships. They've won the Indy 500 fifteen times, 5 of those in the last decade. The cars are now devoid of the iconic Marlboro colours, instead running with Verizon and their own team logos - even when it doesn't have a primary sponsor Roger won't let the team look like it doesn't. Showed everyone the way in qualifying, yet it is arch-rival Ganassi that usually runs better on ovals.

3. Helio Castroneves, Brazil, Team Penske (black/white with red endplates)

On the pole. Won last year to become a 3-time winner of this event, something considered a major acheivement in IndyCar. That he did it just weeks after being acquitted for a tax-dodge charge which disrupted his start to the season is remarkable. Winning a 4th 500 would equal the record held jointly by A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears. Despite his Indy success he is yet to win the series championship. Nicknamed 'Spiderman' for his tradition of climbing the nearest fence when he wins any race. Once won ABC's "Dancing With The Stars", their version of the BBC's "Strictly Come Dancing".

12. Will Power, Australia, Verizon (black/white with black endplates)

Starts P2. The current series points leader after two wins, despite coming off the back of a part-season in which he broke two vertebrae. He stood in for Castroneves during the 2009 tax trial, and entered in a 3rd car at selected rounds after Helio returned. Has a full-season deal for 2010 and is making the most of it. Known as the 'Toowoomba Tornado' after his home town.

6. Ryan Briscoe, Australia, Team Penske (black/white with white endplates)

Starts P4. Won 2 races and scored a long string of 2nd-places in 2009 but has had a slow start to 2010, currently 7th in points. Needs a good result to avoid being relegated to the 3rd man in a two-car team. He's talented enough to do it but Roger Penske won't wait forever for the man parts of the Blogosphere nicknames the 'Briscoe Inferno', and some may say he is already in a supporting role.

Target Chip Ganassi Racing

Dario Franchitti, Target Chip Ganassi
Dario Franchitti, Target Chip GanassiCredit:

Former driver Chip Ganassi's team is the powerhouse of the oval tracks and is currently the other major team alongside Penske. Yet for all their performances on ovals for the rest of the year, they don't have the wins at Indy to show for it with only two (Montoya 2000, Dixon 2008). They have won the IndyCar Series championship for the last two years and both of their drivers have won the title twice. This is the team that made Alex Zanardi and Juan Montoya famous and they continue to run a similar colour scheme to this day.

9. Scott Dixon, New Zealand, Target (red/white with white endplates)

Starts P6. Won one race this year - the only oval - and is 2nd in points. The fairly quiet and unassuming Kiwi has a steady hand which won him the 2003 and 2008 championships as well as the 2008 Indy 500. Generally unfazed by anything and has picked up the 'Iceman' tag (independently of Kimi). Scott has been with the team since 2002. He's driving style strikes me as being quite similar to Jenson Button's. While he's qualified the lowest of the Big 2 teams you still wouldn't rule him out for the race win - you never rule him out.

10. Dario Franchitti, UK, Target (red/white with red endplates)

Starts P3. The two-time series champion is currently 5th in the points and finished 2nd in the only oval round of the year so far, behind his teammate. 2007 IndyCar champion and '07 Indy 500 winner with Andretti-Green, decided against a title defence in '08 and moved to NASCAR for an abortive campaign with Ganassi which sidelined him for half of the year. Stayed with Ganassi for the move back to IndyCar in 2009 and won the championship again. Married to actress Ashley Judd who is known to hang around the pitwall in a large hat, telling reporters what she thinks of other drivers midrace. The pair are known by some as 'Dashley'.


Townsend Bell, Schmidt Ganassi
Townsend Bell, Schmidt GanassiCredit:

Firestone Indy Lights (IRL's junior series) frontrunning team Sam Schmidt Motorsports is working with the Ganassi team on a one-car entry just for the 500, and that involvement must automatically make it this at least a top six car come race end. Add in the driver choice and this could be one to watch, and not just because it is bright green!

99. Townsend Bell, USA, Herbalife (green/white)

Starts P7. Bell is the 2001 Lights champion and this will be his 4th 500. He's struggled to hold down a full-season ride with anyone for budgetary reasons but is a good driver, in last year's 500 he finished a relatively unheralded 4th for KV Racing which was an excellent performance as that was also a limited programme - and KV isn't Ganassi.


Andretti Autosport

Danica Patrick, Andretti Autosport
Danica Patrick, Andretti AutosportCredit:

As Team Green in the 90s and early 2000s (see my Twitter/Wordpress avatar!) this team recorded several wins in CART with the likes of Michael Andretti, Dario Franchitti and Paul Tracy. Michael retired from driving, bought a majority stake in the team and moved it to the IRL as Andretti Green. It continued winning and secured three IRL championships and two Indy 500s. Recently hit a slump in performance which this winter caused Andretti to buy out the remainder of the team and restructure it, including a change to the current name. Running 4 cars for the season and a 5th in the big one.

11. Tony Kanaan, Brazil, 7-Eleven (green/white)

Yet to qualify after a Pole Day crash. Likeable Brazilian driver from a similar mould as his good friend Rubens Barrichello - the Barrichello family raised Kanaan after his dad passed away when he was 11. Won the 2004 IndyCar title with this team, has yet to win the 500 which is something he is desperate to change. Tony can be emotional, yet physically perhaps the fittest and strongest driver of all. One of the most experienced drivers in the field, his team sent him out to find a baseline setup on all 5 cars during opening practice last week before any of the others got in them. Looks a bit like Vin Diesel.

26. Marco Andretti, USA, Venom (red/black)

Starts P16. Unusually down in 13th in points. Marco is the son of team-owner Michael and grandson of the legendary Mario. Marco is also a talent but can be quite hot-headed at times. Takes risks which often work but can just as easily backfire as it did in the 2009 Indy 500, he was taken out on the approach to Turn 2 on lap one of the race when Mario Moraes pinched him against the wall, he could've played it safe and waited. Instead it started a sort of feud between the two. Given the team's form it looks to be another year before the 'curse of Andretti' is broken - despite the family's storied history the entire dynasty has only scored one win at Indy.

37. Ryan Hunter-Reay, USA, IZOD (red/black/white)

Starts P17. Sits 4th in the points standings, Ryan currently has a part-season drive backed by the sponsor of the series but there are efforts to extend his year after he won in Long Beach. Talented driver, this seat may well represent his best shot yet at a good 500 result and championship position (should he get that extra money), even if the team isn't ready for a title push just yet. One of the good guys.

7. Danica Patrick, USA, (dayglo green/black)

Starts P23. A lowly 16th in points means Patrick is the lowest-placed of the four, unusual for a driver normally between say 4th and 8th in the standings each year. Like Marco this is almost certainly down to the team's struggles generally. As the most successful female racer around and the only woman to win a race in a major series she is the focus of a great deal of media attention at all times and particularly at this race. One year she finished well at Indy so at the following race the entire media pack followed her almost to the exclusion of everyone else, so that year's winner Dan Wheldon took to wearing a t-shirt bearing the legend "Actually Won The Indy 500"! She's calmed down her notorious temper considerably over the last six to nine months.. with the exception of yesterday's outburst. Very much capable of winning this race and has already come close to it, but perhaps not this year.

Richard Petty / Andretti Autosport

43. John Andretti, USA, Window World (light blue/red)

Yet to qualify. Run by Andretti Autosport in association with Richard Petty, hence his colours on the car. John is getting on now yet remains a talented driver. Mario's nephew and Michael's cousin, finished 19th in last year's 500 in an identially-liveried car run by Dreyer & Reinbold. This year took an unexpectedly-high 9th in Kansas, his only start of 2010 after being out of an IndyCar since last May.

KV Racing Technology

EJ  Viso, KV Racing Technologies
EJ Viso, KV Racing TechnologiesCredit:

Usually running two or three cars, KVRT has added Paul Tracy for the 500 and possibly more races. This team is run by former Champ Car owner Kevin Kalkhoven (I believe he still owns Cosworth - F1 link!), in association with the 1996 CART champion Jimmy Vasser.

8. EJ Viso, Venezuela, PDVSA (silver/blue with orange airbox)

Starts P19. GP2 followers will know EJ by his first name Ernesto and that huge Magny-Cours shunt. He's made a successful transition to IndyCar and made a good impression with some impressive runs in sometimes uncompetitive machinery, particularly last year with the HVM team.

32. Mario Moraes, Brazil, KV (silver/blue with orange airbox)

Starts P13. Graduated from British F3 into the IndyCar Series in 2008 and didn't disgrace himself at all, with the Dale Coyne team towards the back of the field (Coyne's usual habitat). Moved to KVRT for '09 and scored his first podium. He is quite prone to some stupid errors though and doesn't always watch his mirrors - ask Marco. If he doesn't crash he could end up with a good result.

5. Takuma Sato, Japan, Lotus (green/yellow)

Yet to qualify after crashing before yesterday's qualifying even started, forcing a car rebuild. Impressed everyone with the way he adapted to oval racing at Kansas, but has been involved in some silly shunts at the road/street course events, as you might expect with Taku. If he can stay off the walls and the marbles and bring his Kansas game to the track next week he should have a creditable run.

15. Paul Tracy, Canada, GEICO (blue/red)

Yet to qualify, a major surprise for this highly experienced driver who started racing Indycars in 1991, 3 years before Jacques Villeneuve did. Despite being 2003 Champ Car champion he is the driver many agree was hit the most by the CART/IRL split, it coming in his prime. To this day still maintains with tongue only sometimes in cheek that he won the 2002 Indy 500, which officially went to Helio Castroneves when yellow flags came out just as Tracy made a pass on him. Has been involved in more controversies than a week of guest posts could hope to cover, many involving Sebastien Bourdais. Vastly experienced and very outspoken driver who has forever been known as 'the thrill from West Hill', which is a tag I've never liked for some reason. Most just call him PT.

FAZZT Race Team

77. Alex Tagliani, Canada, B&W (white/black/orange)

Alex Tagliani, FAZZT
Alex Tagliani, FAZZTCredit:

New one-car team set up this year by Alex Tagliani and various other partners, the name comes from the letters in the partners' names. Purchased the cars of backmarker entry Roth Racing so everyone expected little, yet they've surprised everyone with great runs all season. Starts P5. 'Tags' is another experienced hand with years of experience in CART, but only transferred to IndyCar last year. With this level of speed he could get a very good result indeed - if you want an underdog look no further.

Newman/Haas Racing

06. Hideki Mutoh, Japan, Newman/Haas & Panasonic (white, blue, red)

Famous team fallen on hard times. Set up by the actor Paul Newman and the cigar-toting Carl Haas and has won many CART championships with names such as Mario and Michael Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Cristiano da Matta (a much better driver than his F1 stint would suggest), and a four-year run of titles with Sebastien Bourdais as Champ Car was fading. The team nearly didn't survive CC's collapse but was able to enter two cars in IndyCar in 2008 (winning the second race). Had to cut back due to lack of finance and this year is only running one car. Hideki starts P9. Drove for Andretti-Green for two years where he was considered the 4th of four drivers. It is hard to gauge his 2010 form, he's not as fast as with AGR but is that him or the team? They must be hurting with the lack of data from a second car.

de Ferran Dragon Racing

Formed by the merger of the Luczo Dragon team run by Jay Penske (son of Roger) and the de Ferran Motorsports ALMS team run by Gil de Ferran (Indy 500 winner, champion and ex-F1 manager with Honda). Both fielded fast cars in their respective series in the past and this race should be no exception.

2. Raphael Matos, Brazil, HP & McAfee (grey/blue)

Starts P12. Quick driver who scored several top tens with Luczo Dragon last year, expect a solid top ten or better.

21. Davey Hamilton, USA, HP & McAfee (grey/blue)

Starts P14. Retired from racing in 2001 after a serious accident. After 21 operations to rebuild his feet he returned to racing for the 2007 Indy 500, which has been the only race he's entered each year since. This year he's taking in two other races including Texas, the track where he crashed.

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing

Co-owned by car dealer Dennis Reinbold, and Robbie Buhl who drove for them from 2000-2004 as an owner/driver. The team is a stalwart of the IRL side of the split. Buhl also works for the Versus TV network in their coverage of IndyCar races. The only four-car team with all cars already qualified going into Sunday.

Justin Wilson, Dreyer and Reinbold
Justin Wilson, Dreyer and ReinboldCredit:

22. Justin Wilson, UK, Z-Line Designs (black/red)

Starts P11. Former F1 driver with Minardi and Jaguar, raced in Champ Car for 4 years with 4 wins before moving to IndyCar in 2008, where he's been with a different team each year but has taken two wins. Good driver who should be in a frontrunning team and is leading the DRR assault.

24. Mike Conway, UK, Dad's Root Beer (blue/yellow)

Starts P15. Graduated from GP2 to IRL in 2009 and became known for crashing. A lot. Has calmed down now and proven his speed, takes a few risks.

25. Ana Beatriz, Brazil, Alpirango (yellow/blue)

Starts P21. Rookie driver also known as Bia Figuereido who has impressed with her speed.

23. Tomas Scheckter, South Africa, Mona Vie (black/blue)

Starts P20. Experienced and fast IndyCar driver having been in the series for some years now, but doesn't have a full-season drive for 2010. One of those who can be expected to work his way forwards.

Panther Racing / Vision Racing

4. Dan Wheldon, UK, National Guard (black/white/camouflage)

20. Ed Carpenter, USA, Fuzzy's (black/gold);

Two teams which ran two cars each in the IRL when times were good have had to come together due to lack of funding. Panther won the title years ago with Sam Hornish Jr. Vision is owned by Tony George, the man who used to run the IRL.

Carpenter starts P8. Ed is a real oval specialist with Vision Racing and he always goes well at Indy. Look for him to be among the front of the group chasing Penske and Ganassi. Wheldon is yet to qualify. 2005 champion is known for his oval prowess but has struggled since moving to Panther. Not making the top 24 is a blow and he'll hope to come back in the race.

Bringing Up The Rear

Conquest Racing

34. Mario Romancini, Brazil, no sponsor (orange/white)

36. Bertrand Baguette, Belgium, no sponsor (white/yellow)

Originally an IRL team it moved to Champ Car for a while before being forced back when that series went under, just as they'd invested in Champ Car gear. Struggling along, has the capability to go faster but not without more sponsorship to get more experienced drivers. Baguette starts P24. Reigning World Series by Renault FR3.5 champion. Good effort to make the middle of the field in his first 500 start. Romancini has yet to qualify. 6th in Indy Lights last year, stepped and up hasn't quite set the world on fire but early days yet.

A.J. Foyt Enterprises

14. Vitor Meira, Brazil, ABC Supply (white/red/blue)

41. A.J. Foyt IV, USA, ABC Supply (white/red/blue)

Team run by the legendary driver who won championships and 500s in the 60s. Perhaps not quite as fast as it once was now that the level of competition has increased. Both cars yet to qualify even though Viso is 9th in series points and should be doing better. Could fight his way through. Foyt IV hasn't had a full-season drive since 2008 but keeps coming back for Indy.

Team Stargate Worlds / HVM Racing

78. Simona de Silvestro, Switzerland, Stargate Resistance (orange/black)

Formula Atlantic team SGW hooks up with the ex-Champ Car team HVM for this effort. Starts P22. Has impressed many onlookers with her speed all year, consistently classed as top female (if that is a class). Personable and friendly, looks to have a bright future.

Rahal Letterman Racing

30. Graham Rahal, USA, QuickTrim (white/purple)

Team owned by CART champion Bobby Rahal and talk show host David Letterman. Now running in ALMS, Rahal reformed his IndyCar team to run his son who lost his drive elsewhere due to lack of finance. Starts P7, Graham has a good starting position and is a fast driver but the team hasn't done IndyCar pitstops for a little while and that may cost them under pressure. He's also crashed in the same place for the last two 500s - turn 4.

Sarah Fisher Racing

66. Jay Howard, UK, Service Centre (yellow/white)

67. Sarah Fisher, USA, Dollar General (yellow)

Owner/driver finally has some decent backing and is making something of it. Team may not have speed but it has bags of spirit and is loved by the paddock and fans alike. Has been racing in the IRL for years and broke down some of those gender barriers before Danica came on the scene. Fisher only drives on oval circuits and is a bit of a midfielder, but no-one has a bad word to say about her. Tries very hard. Howard was shafted by Roth Racing last year when the team boss got egotistical, deserves another shot. Fast but erratic.

Dale Coyne Racing

18. Milka Duno, Venezuela, CITGO (blue/white/red)

19. Alex Lloyd, UK, ESA2010 (white)

Perrenial backmarkers who were improving until a key engineer departed over the winter, now back where they started. Things like this seem to happen to Dale quite often, he just picks himself up again and carries on. Both cars yet to qualify. Milka at least can run reasonably well on ovals and she may not disgrace herself here. Lloyd had the Ganassi tie-in in previous years which gave him a good car in which he impressed, not sure how he'll manage in a lesser car.

Bryan Herta Autosport

29. Sebastian Saavedra, Colombia, WilliamRast (grey/orange)

Indy Lights team stepping up with its own 500 entry for the first time. Yet to qualify, Saavedra won races in Indy Lights with the Andretti/AFS team and seems to be adapting to the IndyCar quite well.

Today marks 'Bump Day', the final day of qualifying for the 94th Indianapolis 500-Mile Race. The front-running cars qualified yesterday - today sets the balance of the field, positions 25-33. As it is lower-order qualifying I don't expect many Sidepodders to watch but I do hope this post serves as a primer for the race, and I hope you join us to watch it next Sunday!

Event start

17:00GMT +01:00

23 May 2010