IRL: Indy 500: Final entry list includes five former winners

Five former winners, 67 cars entered for 87th Indianapolis 500 Castroneves to contend for record third-consecutive victory INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, April 9, 2003 -- Five former winners, led by back-to-back winner Helio Castroneves, highlight a...

Five former winners, 67 cars entered for 87th Indianapolis 500
Castroneves to contend for record third-consecutive victory

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, April 9, 2003 -- Five former winners, led by back-to-back winner Helio Castroneves, highlight a star-studded entry list for the 87th Indianapolis 500-Mile Race.

The 2003 edition of "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" starts at noon (EDT) on Sunday, May 25. The race will be broadcast live on the ABC television network beginning with pre-race activities at 11 a.m. (EDT), on radio via the IMS Radio Network and on the Internet at www.indyracing.com.

Thirty-four official entries were postmarked before the April 2 deadline. Those entries include 67 cars, and 28 of the entries have drivers named. Six entries were filed without drivers, though those are expected to be filled as May approaches.

Castroneves, the winner in 2001 and 2002, will contend for a historic third consecutive "500" victory, a feat never accomplished in the storied history of the grueling 200-lap race. He will have to ward off the challenge of one of the most talented "500" fields in decades.

Former winners Arie Luyendyk (winner in 1990, 1997) and Al Unser Jr. (1992, 1994) will each contend for their third Indianapolis 500 victory, while Kenny Brack (1999) and Buddy Lazier (1996) will also challenge the elite 33-car starting field in pursuit of a second trip to Indy's Victory Lane.

Five Indy Racing League IndyCar^Ù Series champions are among the entrants: Scott Sharp (1996 co-champion), Brack (1998), Greg Ray (1999), Lazier (2000) and Sam Hornish Jr. (2001, 02).

Open-wheel legend Michael Andretti will attempt to qualify for his final Indianapolis 500, the final race of his open-wheel racing career. Andretti has competed at Indy 13 times, finished in the top-10 eight times and led 398 laps, but victory at the world's greatest auto race has eluded him.

The 2003 Indianapolis 500 is Andretti's final opportunity to have his likeness permanently added to the Borg-Warner Trophy, before he focuses on his duties as team owner for the IndyCar Series' Andretti Green Racing.

Other notable drivers entered include Scott Dixon, winner of the IndyCar Series season-opening race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and his Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Tomas Scheckter, who earned 2002 Bank One Indianapolis 500 Co-Rookie of the Year honors after leading 85 laps.

Tony Kanaan, winner of the most recent IndyCar Series event at Phoenix, is entered along with Andretti Green Racing teammate Dario Franchitti. 2001-02 IRL Crew Most Popular Driver Sarah Fisher will compete along with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing teammate Robbie Buhl, who qualified a career-best second in the 2002 Indianapolis 500.

The 2003 rookie contingent includes nine drivers and is led by A.J. Foyt IV, grandson of legendary four-time Indy winner A.J. Foyt, Buddy Rice of Red Bull Cheever Racing and Ganassi Racing's Dixon. A rookie has won the race in two of the last three years (Juan Pablo Montoya, 2000; Helio Castroneves in 2001), so victory is certainly not out of their grasp.

The addition of 18-year-old Foyt is also of historic significance as it marks the first time since 1993 that drivers with the last name of Andretti, Foyt and Unser -- three of the most famous names in the history of motorsports -- are entered in the race.

Indianapolis Star Opening Day for the 87th Indianapolis 500 is Sunday, May 4. IndyCar Series practice continues daily through May 9, with MBNA Pole Qualifying on Pole Day, Saturday, May 10. Second-day qualifications take place on Marsh Mother's Day, Sunday, May 11.

There will be no track activity May 12-13, but practice will resume Wednesday, May 14 and continue through Saturday, May 17. Bump Day, the dramatic final day of qualifications, is scheduled for Sunday, May 18.

No track activity is scheduled May 19-20, but 500 Festival Community Day and the popular public track laps, garage tours and drivers autograph session are scheduled for Wednesday, May 21.

Carburetion Day, the final day of track activity before Race Day, is scheduled for Thursday, May 22. The crucial two-hour final practice for the starting field will kick off the day, followed by the Indy 500 Pit Stop Challenge. The Carb Day Concert -- free with Carb Day admission to the track -- will take place that afternoon, with entertainment to be announced soon.

The public drivers meeting is scheduled for Saturday, May 24, followed by the 500 Festival Parade in downtown Indianapolis.

The Indy Racing League Infiniti Pro Series will make its historic debut at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 17 with the 40-lap Freedom 100. The race marks the first time in IMS history that another automobile race will share the famed 2.5-mile oval with the Indianapolis 500 during the month of May.

Practice for the Freedom 100 takes place Thursday, May 15, followed by practice and qualifying on May 16 and the race at 2 p.m. (EST, local time) on May 17.

A limited number of reserved-seat Race Day tickets for the Indianapolis 500 remain available. General admission and reserved tickets for practice, qualifications and Race Day can be purchased on the World Wide Web via www.imstix.com or by calling the IMS Ticket Office at (800) 822-INDY or (317) 492-6700.

ENTRY SUMMARY:

DRIVERS (28)

Former race winners (5): Arie Luyendyk, 2 (1990, 1997); Al Unser Jr., 2 (1992, 1994); Buddy Lazier (1996); Kenny Brack (1999); Helio Castroneves, 2 (2001-02).

Former pole winners (5): Arie Luyendyk, 3 (1993, 1997, 1999); Al Unser Jr. (1994), Billy Boat (1998), Greg Ray (2000), Scott Sharp (2001).

Rookies (9): Scott Dixon, Roger Yasukawa, Dan Wheldon, Scott Mayer, A.J. Foyt IV, Tora Takagi, Vitor Meira, Buddy Rice, Tony Renna.

U.S. born (15): Robbie Buhl, Roger Yasukawa, Scott Sharp, Al Unser Jr., Buddy Lazier, Michael Andretti, Scott Mayer, A.J. Foyt IV, Sam Hornish Jr., Billy Boat, Sarah Fisher, Jaques Lazier, Greg Ray, Buddy Rice, Tony Renna.

Foreign born (13): Scott Dixon, New Zealand; Tomas Scheckter, South Africa; Kenny Brack, Sweden; Tony Kanaan, Brazil; Dario Franchitti, Scotland; Dan Wheldon, England; Shigeaki Hattori, Japan; Tora Takagi, Japan; Felipe Giaffone, Brazil; Arie Luyendyk, Holland; Vitor Meira, Brazil; Helio Castroneves, Brazil; Gil de Ferran, Brazil.

Youngest: A.J. Foyt IV, 18.
Oldest: Arie Luyendyk, 49.

Most previous starts: Arie Luyendyk, 17.

CARS (67)
Chassis: Dallara 46, Panoz G Force 21.
Engines: Chevrolet 19, Honda 16, Toyota 32.

-ims-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing , Chip Ganassi Racing