INDIANAPOLIS – An appearance on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," meetings with Congressional and Japanese officials and a journey to the newest city on the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule are among the many activities that the 33 drivers competing in this year’s Indianapolis 500 will encounter on the annual North American media tour for the race.
In what has become a popular Indy 500 tradition, the 33 qualified drivers and one special guest driver are fanning out to 21 cities 24 hours, spreading the word about the 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil that takes place on Memorial Day weekend.
On the tour, drivers will meet with national and local media to discuss the race and join in activities to increase the surging interest in the world's largest single-day sporting event, held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Media and fans can follow the media tour excitement on social media as drivers and the Verizon IndyCar Series use the hashtag #Indy500MediaTour to record the adventures.
Danica Patrick, who will start the 102nd Indianapolis 500 from the third row in the last race of her storied career, will travel to New York, where her tour will include an appearance on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" to air at 11:35 p.m. ET Tuesday on NBC. Patrick is the first woman to win a major open-wheel race (Twin Ring Motegi Japan, 2008), first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500 (as a rookie in 2005) and the highest female finisher in Indy 500 history (third place, 2009).
Joining Patrick in Manhattan will be reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Takuma Sato, who last year became the first Japanese driver to win "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing." Sato will be honored Tuesday at a private event with three Japanese diplomats, including Consular General Reiichiro Takahashi, who will offer a toast.
James Hinchcliffe, the 2016 Indianapolis 500 pole sitter and one of the most popular drivers in the Verizon IndyCar Series, is also traveling to New York for media events. Though he failed to qualify for this year’s Indianapolis 500 in heartbreaking fashion on May 19, Hinchcliffe continues to garner wide media attention as he promotes the race.
Ryan Hunter-Reay, the 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner and 2012 series champion, is headed to Washington, where he will rub elbows Tuesday with political movers and shakers in a special reception hosted by the Indiana Society of Washington. Expected to attend are members of Indiana's Congressional delegation.
Alexander Rossi was headed to Portland, where he was scheduled to visit the World of Speed Motorsports Museum in nearby Wilsonville, Oregon, on Monday night to talk about the Indianapolis 500 and the Grand Prix of Portland on Labor Day weekend that will mark the return of Indy car racing to the Pacific Northwest for the first time since 2007.
Ed Carpenter won the Indy 500 pole position on Sunday as the fastest qualifier for a third time in his career and will lead the field to the green flag to start the race. Carpenter, who holds the unique dual role of driver and team owner, will travel to Detroit – site of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear, the doubleheader race weekend that follows the Indianapolis 500 on the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule by a week.
The full list of the markets to be visited and drivers attending is below:
• Charlotte: Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud
• Chicago: Helio Castroneves
• Cincinnati: James Davison, Jack Harvey, Jay Howard
• Columbus: Zach Veach
• Dallas-Fort Worth: Gabby Chaves, Scott Dixon
• Dayton: Robert Wickens
• Denver: JR Hildebrand, Stefan Wilson
• Detroit: Ed Carpenter, Max Chilton, Will Power
• Fort Wayne, Indiana: Zachary Claman De Melo, Kyle Kaiser, Matheus Leist
• Houston: Tony Kanaan
• Louisville: Conor Daly
• Miami: Carlos Munoz, Oriol Servia
• Milwaukee: Ed Jones
• New York: James Hinchcliffe, Danica Patrick, Takuma Sato
• Orlando: Spencer Pigot
• Philadelphia: Marco Andretti, Sage Karam
• Portland: Alexander Rossi
• St. Louis: Charlie Kimball
• Tampa/St. Petersburg: Graham Rahal
• Toronto: Sebastien Bourdais
• Washington: Ryan Hunter-Reay
Coverage of the 102nd Indianapolis 500 begins at 11 a.m. ET Sunday on ABC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network. Tickets are available at IMS.com.