Juan Pablo Montoya, Penske, Indianapolis, 2014

F1 stars return to recapture Indianapolis success

2014 Indianapolis 500 preview

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Jack Hawksworth, Herta, Indianapolis, 2014Two F1 race winners who won the Indianapolis 500 before will return to the Brickyard on Sunday with the goal of repeating their previous successes.

But Juan Pablo Montoya and Jacques Villeneuve are up against the fastest and most closely-matched field in the 103-year history of the race.

Speeds have risen around the Brickyard since the introduction of the new Dallara DW12 chassis and V6 turbo engines two years ago. Last year Tony Kanaan post the fastest average speed for a winner in the Speedway’s history: 187.433mph (301.644kph).

In qualifying this year the 2.1 second gap between the fastest and slowest qualifying runners (over four-lap runs) was the closest ever seen at Indianapolis. The average speed of the field, 229.382mph (369.155kph), is also a new record.

And while Ed Carpenter’s pole position speed of 231.067mph (371.866kph) may be 6mph off Arie Luyendyk’s 1996 record, it’s another step towards IndyCar’s stated aim of reviving the pursuit of ultimate speed at the Speedway.

It’s also a lot quicker than Kurt Busch is used to. The 2004 NASCAR champion will compete in Sunday evening’s race at Charlotte after taking the green flag at Indianapolis. NASCAR race once per year at the Brickyard, and last year’s pole time was over 40mph slower than Carpenter’s.

Juan Pablo Montoya, Penske, Indianapolis, 2014The one-off appearances from Villeneuve and Buch, and Montoya’s return to a full-time seat, are sure to bring new attention to a series which is striving to regain its lost glory.

But picking a winner from such a close field is a tough ask. Carpenter shares the front row with James Hinchcliffe and championship leader Will Power – none of which have ever won at Indianapolis before.

But Power’s Penske team mate Helio Castroneves is seeking a fourth victory from row two. And he’s doing so in a car which bears one of the iconic Indianapolis liveries – the distinctive yellow of Pennzoil.

With Montoya also in the top ten, the three Penske cars line up in front of the Ganassi continent, which includes last year’s winner Tony Kanaan. But the grid ultimately counts for little in a race which will last well over two-and-a-half hours, and the silver Ganassi cars were quick in practice.

2014 Indianapolis 500 grid

Here’s how the 33 cars will line up:

#DriverTeamEngineSpeed (mph)Notes
120Ed CarpenterCarpenterChevrolet231.067Owner-driver on pole for second year in a row, finished tenth last year.
227James HinchcliffeAndrettiHonda230.839Recovered from concussion sustained in race on Indy road course two weeks ago
312Will PowerPenskeChevrolet230.697Has won 19 IndyCar races but just once on an oval – at Fontana last year.
43Helio CastronevesPenskeChevrolet230.649Another Indy 500 win would tie him with record-holding four-time winners.
577Simon PagenaudSchmidtHonda230.614Won the road course race and has finished in the top five at every round so far.
625Marco AndrettiAndrettiHonda230.544Grandson of F1 champion and IndyCar great is yet to win in a race in the DW12.
734Carlos MunozAndrettiHonda230.146Stunned last year with second on the grid and at the flag. First full season.
867Josef NewgardenSFHRHonda229.893On an upward trajectory: second at Baltimore last year and raced well at Long Beach.
921J.R. HildebrandCarpenterChevrolet228.726No full-time seat this year. Crashed while leading his first 500 at final turn in 2011.
102Juan Pablo MontoyaPenskeChevrolet231.007One Indy 500 start; one win. Back in single-seaters after seven years away.
119Scott DixonGanassiChevrolet230.928Three-times IndyCar champion had a single Indy 500 win in 2008.
1226Kurt BuschAndrettiHonda230.782Will also race in NASCAR’s 600-mile race on same day. Quick but crashed in practice.
1398Jack HawksworthHertaHonda230.506Led 31 laps around road course and deserved better than seventh on his fourth start.
1419Justin WilsonDale CoyneHonda230.256Periodic winner with Dale Coyne but tends to lose out in the pits.
157Mikhail AleshinSchmidtHonda203.049IndyCar’s first Russian driver, won the Formula Renault 3.5 title in 2010.
1610Tony KanaanGanassiChevrolet229.922Took an overdue and popular first Indianapolis 500 win last year.
1711Sebastien BourdaisKVChevrolet229.847Dominant in Champ Car, unsuccessful in F1, yet to win a race in IndyCar.
1816Oriol ServiaRLLHonda229.752Spanish veteran of US racing had a career-best fourth at Indianapolis two years ago.
1928Ryan Hunter-ReayAndrettiHonda229.719Redeemed himself with wet weather win in Barber after Long Beach shunt.
2015Graham RahalRLLHonda229.628Second-generation driver still looking for follow up to maiden 2008 win.
2118Carlos HuertasDale CoyneHonda229.251Switched from European racing after two years in Formula Renault 3.5.
2263Pippa MannDale CoyneHonda229.223The only woman in the field, making her first start of the year.
2314Takuma SatoFoytHonda229.201As he was in F1: fast, fearless but ragged. Won at Long Beach last year.
2468Alex TaglianiSFHRHonda229.148Led a lap last year but last win at any level was now six years ago.
256Townsend BellKVChevrolet229.009More commonly found in the commentary team these days, took best of fourth in 2009.
2683Charlie KimballGanassiChevrolet228.953Took surprise win at Mid-Ohio last season but hasn’t repeated that form yet this year.
275Jacques VilleneuveSchmidtHonda228.949Returning to the race he won in 1995 before the split happened.
2833James DavisonKVChevrolet228.865Dabbled in IndyCar two years ago, Indy Lights runner-up in 2009.
2941Martin PlowmanFoytHonda228.814Shared the WEC LMP2 title with his Oak team mates last year.
308Ryan BriscoeGanassiChevrolet228.713Back at Ganassi for this season after a five-year stint at Penske which ended in 2012.
3122Sage KaramGanassiChevrolet228.436Reigning Indy Lights champion is making his IndyCar debut.
3217Sebastian SaavedraKVChevrolet228.088Fortunate pole for road course race led to carnage when he failed to get away.
3391Buddy LazierLazierChevrolet227.920Won the first post-split 500 in 1996, the 46-year-old is making up the numbers now.

Indianapolis 500 gallery

Watching the Indianapolis 500

I will feature on BT Sport’s live coverage of Indianapolis 500 on Sunday. The build-up starts at 3:30pm with a special edition of Motorsport Tonight, then the main broadcast begins at 4:30pm with a race start time of 5pm.

For those of you not in the UK you can find and share IndyCar coverage details here:

And as always F1 Fanatic Live will be running throughout the race – look out for the live page on the site shortly after the Monaco Grand Prix.

Will Power, James Hinchcliffe, Ed Carpenter, Indianapolis, 2014

Over to you

Who’s your tip for success in the Indianapolis 500? How do you think Montoya and Villeneuve will fare? Have your say in the comments.


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Images © IndyCar/Chris Jones

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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28 comments on “F1 stars return to recapture Indianapolis success”

  1. I’m all for drivers running in different series, but Kurt Busch doing a 500-mile race and a 600-mile race on the same day feels like pushing the boundaries of wisdom.

    1. Tony Stewart succesfully completed all laps of both races in 1999 and 2001. John Andretti was credited as finished both in 1994 (I believe he was laps down in the 600), so was Robby Gordon in 2002.


      So yes, pushing the boundaries, but not mission impossible. :)

  2. Former F1 Stars you mean?

  3. Monaco + Indy = A Classic Racing Weekend

    Hoping for JPM at Indy. Or, maybe Newgarden or Pagenaud.

  4. I applaud the idea of ‘pursuing ultimate speed’, but then I very strongly recommend spending the fortune that is required for SAFER barrierring the whole track, not just the turns. Kurt Busch’s crash in practice was fearsome and looked extremely high-speed.

    I hope every one will be alright be the end this time around as well.

  5. I’ll try to watch it. I always do. I try to watch it and like it, but probably will spent another year thinking what is all this fuss about Indycar racing…

    1. Watch the road course races, the fuss is that the series is a great high level open wheel racing series, with great action

      1. I saw those aswell, hated it to death… It’s like a spec F1 race with worse drivers…

        1. And more exciting racing :-p

        2. It’s like a spec F1 race with worse drivers…

          I don’t get why people constantly bash Indycar for having ‘Worse’ drivers?

          There are some exceptionally good drivers in Indycar who have the talent to be front runners in F1 but don’t get the chance because they don’t have the budgets to buy an F1 ride.

          Takuma Sato had good speed in F1 & did get a podium on merit yet he hasn’t turned up in Indycar & blown these so called worse drivers away & there are other examples of very good drivers moving from F1 & having a tough time in Indycar, Montoya this year for example.

          People often bring up the fact that there are a lot of errors made on the street circuits in Indycar & use that as a reason to point out the drivers are not so good but consider this, Indycar’s have far less downforce, Far less efficient brakes, No Power steering, Less grippy tyres, No tyre warmers & the circuits are a lot more bumpy, Have far less runoff & don’t have the high grip tarmac that many of the newer F1 circuits have.

          In F1 15-20+ years ago when F1 had less downforce etc…. & the circuits were bumpier etc… You saw a lot more of the same sort of mistakes & a lot more DNF’s due to spins/accidents etc…, Especially on the street circuits.

  6. Has won 19 IndyCar races but just once on an oval – at Fontana last year.

    Power also won in Texas in 2011 Keith.

  7. Unsurprisingly I want Hinchcliffe to win.

    The Penskes have looked quick all month, so I wouldn’t put it past Castroneves to achieve his fourth win here.

    I just hope the race is as good as last year, or the year before, or the year before… Every 500 I’ve watched has been full of drama so hoping for the same again!

  8. Spec car racing sucks

    1. @melthom Not all the cars are the same, they either have the Chevrolet or Honda engines. Also spec car racing can be fantastic, there was one this morning in the GP2.

    2. I find contrived, DRS- and tire-dependent races where only two drivers have a legitimate shot at winning while lapping competition that has no hope of scoring meaningful (or any) points to “suck” as well.

      1. Agree. I wanna see something like Brabhams, Coopers, Surtees, Tyrrells, BRM and all the rest making their own solutions with characteristic form factors so you can say “that’s clearly a Brabham, that’s a typical BRM etc. Now they have sterilized the whole thing.

  9. Go JV Go!

  10. If its going to be anything like the races in the last 2 years, it could be won by at least a third of the field!

  11. I have a feeling Power will get it or get close to it. Would be wonderful.
    But what a great story it would be if JPM would make it 2 out of 2.
    OR a shock win by Kurt Busch, but that seems almost impossible, is it not? :)

    1. Would be great if JV won it too having won it in 95 when it was CART. That would be quite the story too. Odds are against him since he hasn’t been driving these cars, but one never knows. He has said they concentrated on making the car work good in traffic which is why they didn’t qualify so high.

  12. When you no longer cut it in Europe, go to America to pick up as much money as you can with whats left of your career.

    1. What? A lot of these guys just dont happen to be pay drivers so choose a great racing series where they can show their true skill.

    2. Yeah like those low-lifes Clark, Mansell, Andretti, Fittipaldi, Villeneuve, Montoya, Bourdais, Raikkonen, Francitti, Barricello, Prost, Sato, and probably many more that I am missing that were utter failures who couldn’t possibly just love racing wherever they can and because already having millions just isn’t enough.

  13. I’m only hoping for no yellow flag finish..(last time was 2011)

  14. I’ll be at the race and possibly for the last time for a while. I’m moving soon and I’ll be too far away to make a day trip of it after that. Helio’s paint scheme has some extra special significance. That’s a scheme from another Penske driver and in fact he was the last driver to get a 4th Indy 500 win: Rick Mears. Mears was an idol of mine growing up. It helps his longevity as a popular historical figure in the Indy pantheon that he’s long been considered a soft spoken gentleman and considerate racer. We need more guys like him. If Helio finally does it, I might shed a tear knowing a touch of Rick was back up top..

  15. A longshot for sure, but I’d love to see Josef Newgarden and Sarah Fisher Racing in victory lane. As per usual, I will tune into the ‘500’ for the final 50 laps or so. Like most oval races, it’s only towards the end of the event that I can really get into it.

  16. I swear more Brits follow Indycar than ‘Muricans… only in England would lame oval racing be considered “exotic”. Frankly it’s an oudated mode of racing and I’m not sure who can go from the glitz and glamour of Monaco to the gangsta and impoverished Indianapolis, but I can tell ya it isn’t me!

    1. Oh, I don’t know. Emerson Fittipaldi, who won two F1 championships, would beg to differ. I don’t normally defend Indycar, but I think the 500 compared to Monaco is no competition. The former offers excitement and the risk of death. The latter is a parade, led by a Mercedes, and usually one guy crashing into a barrier. That’s it.

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