Initial Indy 500 Car Count

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard said he expects at least 34 car/driver combinations to attempt to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 on May 27.

The new Dallara chassis – with a Speedway aerodynamic kit to be tested at the 2.5-mile oval April 4 – is powered by the 2.2-liter, turbocharged V-6 engines supplied by Chevrolet, Honda and Lotus. Twenty-six cars lined up for the first two IZOD IndyCar Series races of the season.

Lotus, which currently supplies engines to five entrants, will add a sixth likely for former Formula One driver Jean Alesi. He has been serving as a test driver and ambassador for Lotus. Alessi announced his intentions at the Singapore Grand Prix in September.

“He’s been training; he wants to do it,” Bernard said.

Chevrolet would increase its supply by three to 14, and Honda would add five engines also to reach 14. More than 50 new Dallara chassis have been delivered. 

“Honda and Chevy are prepared for up to 14 (each) right now,” Bernard said. “I’ve met with Honda and Chevy and that’s what they’ve felt the number is to provide the full support to their teams.”

Nine cars are expected to participate in the aero test April 4 at the Speedway (five from Chevrolet and four from Honda). The aero kit also will be utilized at the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway in the season finale in September.

It includes rear-wheel guards that are taller, lighter and have a slightly different shape than the sets to be used on the road/street circuits and the oval races at Texas Motor Speedway, Iowa Speedway and the Milwaukee Mile. Also available to teams to experiment with are a rear-wing mainplane angle of between 0 and -10 degrees, underwing strakes and sidewall extensions (to keep air from becoming turbulent under the car), wickers on the front- and rear-wing mainplanes and the beam wing, and radiator inler shutters.

The rear-wheel guard/wings work in combination with the other bodywork to create less drag and more downforce. Minimum car weight will be 1,535 pounds (excluding driver and driver equivalency weight).

The components have been tested in both scale model and full size in the wind tunnel at the Auto Research Center in North Carolina in conjunction with INDYCAR.

Spectators can watch the event from the South grandstand near the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum. Pole Day is May 19 and Miller Lite Carb Day, featuring the final practice, pit stop competition, the Freedom 100 Firestone Indy Lights race and mid-afternoon concert by Lynyrd Skynrd, is May 25.  TICKETS

Bernard met with officials from Barber Motorsports Park and event promoter ZOOM Motorsports regarding the future of the event weekend at the scenic 2.38-mile, 17-turn venue. The sanctioning agreement runs through 2013.

“I think (ZOOM Motorsports) is an outstanding promoter and I’d like to see them do another event somewhere,” Bernard said. “This is a first-class facility and it has a first-class promoter. It’s an honor for INDYCAR to be here.”