The first provisional entry list has been published for the 96th Indianapolis 500 race scheduled for Sunday May 27 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The entries feature three former Indy 500 champions (Helio Castroneves, Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon) and three former IZOD IndyCar Series champions (Dixon, Franchitti and Tony Kanaan.)
In total, 34 cars are listed, including the 26 series regulars who have been competing in the first four street and road courses of the 2012 season ahead of the month of May. The oldest driver listed at the moment is Rubens Barrichello (who will turn 40 just before race day) and the youngest is Newgarden at 21.
There are eight drivers from the US, five from the United Kingdom, four from Brazil and two each from Australia, New Zealand, France and Canada. In total, 12 different countries are represented in the provisional entry list.
There are also seven drivers listed as rookies for this event hoping to make their first Indy 500 start (Katherine Legge, Rubens Barrichello, James Jakes, Bryan Clauson, Wade Cunningham, Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud.)
Jakes completed the Rookie Orientation Program in 2011 and will not have to complete it again, although he failed to make the 33-car grid for the race itself. The others will need to pass the program before they can take part in qualifying, even though Cunningham and Newgarden are experienced oval racers in Firestone Indy Lights and Clauson is a two-time USAC National Drivers Champion.
In terms of engine power, Chevrolet and Honda each have 14 entries while Lotus adds an extra car to take its total to six. No details about the additional Newman/Haas Racing-Lotus car were declared on the provisional entry list, although it's assumed that this is the entry that former F1 driver Jean Alesi will be driving.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan lists an extra #45 car alongside regular driver Takuma Sato, and this had been expected to be for 2011 GP2 runner-up Luca Filippi. However, rumoured sponsorship backing problems for the Italian may mean that the team turns instead to former CART regular Michel Jourdain Jr. to fill the seat.
An extra entry is also listed for Ed Carpenter Racing, and although no driver has been declared for the #21 the team say that they are keen to add Buddy Rice to the line-up, which would bring the tally of former Indy 500 champions hoping to start this year's race to four. A #99 car is also listed for Schmidt/Hamilton with no driver currently named. While possibly an opening for old Indy hand Davey Hamilton to return to the cockpit, Townsend Bell has been mentioned as a more likely candidate.
Other extra entries for the Indy 500 include Andretti Autosport's 2012 Firestone Indy Lights competitor and test/development driver Sebastian Saavedra, and the team is also working in partnership with Conquest Racing to field the #25 for former series regular Ana Beatriz, who will also be racing at the final street race in April in her hometown of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
With 34 cars listed, then unless one or more cars pull out someone will be left sitting on the sidelines after the qualifying weekend on May 19/20, since the Indianapolis 500 traditionally limits its starting grid to 11 rows of three.
Provisional entry list
#2 - Ryan Briscoe - Team Penske - Chevrolet (Sydney, Australia)
#3 - Helio Castroneves - Team Penske - Chevrolet (Sao Paulo, Brazil)
#4 - JR Hildebrand - Panther Racing - Chevrolet (Sausalito, US)
#5 - EJ Viso - KV Racing Technology - Chevrolet (Caracas, Venezuela)
#6 - Katherine Legge* - Dragon Racing - Lotus (Guildford, England)
#7 - Sebastien Bourdais - Dragon Racing - Lotus (Le Mans, France)
#8 - Rubens Barrichello * - KV Racing Technology - Chevrolet (Sao Paulo, Brazil)
#9 - Scott Dixon - Target Chip Ganassi Racing - Honda (Auckland, New Zealand)
#10 - Dario Franchitti - Target Chip Ganassi Racing - Honda (Edinburgh, Scotland)
#11 - Tony Kanaan - KV Racing Technology w/SH - Chevrolet (Salvador, Brazil)
#12 - Will Power - Team Penske - Chevrolet (Toowoomba, Australia)
#14 - Mike Conway - A.J. Foyt Enterprises - Honda (Bromley, England)
#15 - Takuma Sato - Rahal Letterman Lanigan - Honda (Tokyo, Japan)
#17 - Sebastian Saavedra - AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport - Chevrolet (Bogota, Colombia)
#18 - Justin Wilson - Dale Coyne Racing - Honda (Sheffield, England)
#19 - James Jakes * - Dale Coyne Racing - Honda (Leeds, England)
#20 - Ed Carpenter - Ed Carpenter Racing - Chevrolet (Indianapolis, US)
#21 - TBA - Ed Carpenter Racing - Chevrolet
#22 - Oriol Servia - Dreyer & Reinbold Racing - Lotus (Pals, Spain)
#25 - Ana Beatriz - Andretti Autosport/Conquest Racing - Chevrolet (Sao Paulo, Brazil)
#26 - Marco Andretti - Andretti Autosport - Chevrolet (Nazareth, US)
#27 - James Hinchcliffe - Andretti Autosport - Chevrolet (Toronto, Canada)
#28 - Ryan Hunter-Reay - Andretti Autosport - Chevrolet (Fort Lauderdale, US)
#38 - Graham Rahal - Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing - Honda (New Albany, US)
#39 - Bryan Clauson * - Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing - Honda (Noblesville, US)
#41 - Wade Cunningham * - A.J. Foyt Racing - Honda (Auckland, New Zealand )
#45 - TBA - Rahal Letterman Lanigan - Honda
#67 - Josef Newgarden * - Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing - Honda (Hendersonville, US)
#77 - Simon Pagenaud * - Schmidt-Hamilton Motorsports - Honda (Poitiers, France)
#78 - Simona de Silvestro - Lotus-HVM Racing - Lotus (Thun, Switzerland)
#83 - Charlie Kimball - Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing - Honda (Camarillo, US)
#98 - Alex Tagliani - Bryan Herta Autosport w/Curb-Agajanian - Lotus (Lachenaie, Canada )
#99 - TBA - Sam Schmidt Motorsports - Honda
#TBA - TBA - Newman/Haas Racing - Lotus
* denotes oval rookie