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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, May 29, 2010

Auto racing: Indianapolis 500 driver profiles


Associated Press

Profiles of the 33 drivers in Sunday's Indianapolis 500, in starting order with car number in parentheses, age, hometown, chassis, race team, four-lap qualification average and biographical information (w-former winner; r-rookie; all chassis Dallara, all engines Honda):

ROW 1

1. (3) w-Helio Castroneves, 35, Sao Paulo, Brazil; Team Penske; 227.970 mph. Defending champion is looking to become the fourth driver to win Indy four times, joining A.J. Foyt, Al Unser Sr. and Rick Mears. Third in the points standings. Won earlier this year during the inaugural race at Barber Motorsports Park. Has won at least one race each season since joining the IRL in 2001. Could become the first driver to post back-to-back Indy wins twice. He was the last to go back-to-back by winning in 2001 and 2002. Won TV's "Dancing with the Stars" in 2007.

2. (12) Will Power, 29, Toowoomba, Australia; Verizon Team Penske; 227.578. Making his third Indy 500 start. Finished fifth last season. Currently atop the point standings after opening the season with wins in Brazil and St. Petersburg. Former ChampCar driver broke four bones in his back after crashing in practice in California last summer. Joined Penske in 2009 as a substitute for Helio Castroneves before eventually catching on full-time.

3. (10) w-Dario Franchitti, 37, Edinburgh, Scotland; Target Chip Ganassi Racing, 226.990. Won Indy in 2007 in a rain-shortened race while driving for Andretti Green Racing. Defending points champion, captured the title on the final race of the season, edging teammate Scott Dixon by 11 points. Currently fifth in points through five races. Finished in top 10 in each of last four Indy starts. Married to actress Ashley Judd.

ROW 2

4. (6) Ryan Briscoe, 28, Sydney, Australia; Team Penske, 226.554. Making fifth Indy 500 start. Qualified second but finished 15th a year ago due to grip issues. Has just one Top 5 finish at the Brickyard. Finished third in points a year ago but is off to a slow start in 2009. He's seventh in the standings through five races, with his best finish third-place at St. Petersburg. Says winning the 500 is just as important as capturing the points title. Married ESPN NASCAR reporter Nicole Manske in the offseason.

5. (77) Alex Tagliani, 37, Lachenaie, Quebec; FAZZT Race Team, 226.390. Making second Indy 500 start. Was the top rookie last year, finishing 11th while driving for Conquest Racing after replacing Bruno Junqueira. In his first year as a full-time rider for FAZZT Race Team. Currently 12th in points, his best finish was sixth in St. Petersburg. ChampCar veteran with one career win in that series at Road America. Drove a partial schedule last season with a best finish of ninth in Toronto, where he led 21 laps.

6. (9) w-Scott Dixon, 29, Auckland, New Zealand; Target Chip Ganassi, 226.233. Won from the pole at Indy two years ago, when he led 115 of 200 laps. Led 73 laps last year but was passed by Castroneves on lap 142 and faded to sixth. Narrowly missed collecting his third season points title when poor fuel strategy cost him in the season finale at Homestead, allowing Franchitti to take the title. Second in points this year, coming off a win in Kansas on May 1. Parents Ron and Glenys were both dirt track racers. CART rookie of the year in 2001, when victory at Nazareth, Pa., made him at 20 the youngest winner in major open-wheel racing.

ROW 3

7. (30) Graham Rahal, 21, Columbus, Ohio; Rahal Letterman Racing, 225.519. Making third Indy start. Failed to finish the race in both 2008 and 2009. Son of 1986 Indy 500 winner Bobby Rahal. Spent the last two seasons racing for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing. Raced in St. Petersburg, Long Beach and Barber for Sarah Fisher Racing. This is his first race driving for his father.

8. (20) Ed Carpenter, 29, Indianapolis, Ind.; Panther Racing, 224.507. Making his sixth Indy 500 start and his 100th career start in the series. Best finish at the Brickyard was fifth in 2008, when he led three laps. Finished 12th in points last year and narrowly missed picking up his first victory at Kentucky, where he was edged by Ryan Briscoe. Looking for a full-time ride after Vision Racing, owned by his stepfather and IRL co-founder Tony George, suspended operations. Started in midget and sprint cars, finished third in IRL's developmental Indy Lights in 2002 and 2003, including win at Indianapolis in 2003.

9. (06) Hideki Mutoh, 27, Tokyo, Japan; Newman/Haas Racing, 223.487. Making third Indy start. Finished seventh in 2008 while driving for Andretti Green Racing. Struggled this season, comes into the race 17th in points after finishing 11th last year for AGR. Named the 2008 Rookie of the Year after finishing 10th in points. Graduate of the Honda driver development program. Best career finish is second at Iowa in 2008.

ROW 4

10. (99) Townsend Bell, 35, San Francisco, Calif., Chip Ganassi Racing Sam Schmidt Motorsports, 225.097. Came out of nowhere to finish fourth at Indy last year. Hopped from series to series during his nomadic career, including stints in IndyCar in 2004-05 and 2008. Making fourth Indy 500 start. Runs a "sponsorship coaching" program when he's not racing, which teaches aspiring drivers how to sell themselves to potential investors.

11. (22) Justin Wilson, 31, Sheffield, England, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, 225.050. Making third Indy 500 start. Has yet to reach the checkered flag in the race. Crashed in both 2008 and 2009. Former ChampCar driver finished ninth in points last season while driving for Dale Coyne Racing. Currently sixth in points, with top 3 finishes at both St. Petersburg and Long Beach. Has also spent time in Formula One. At 6-foot-3 he's the tallest driver on the IndyCar Series.

12. (2) Raphael Matos, 28, Belo Horizonte, Brazil, de Ferran Dragon Racing; 225.028 mph. In his second IndyCar season after winning series championships in the Formula Dodge, Star Mazda Pro, Champ Car Atlantic and Indy Lights developmental programs. Tied for 10th in points with season-best finish fourth in season-opener at Brazil. Led 3 laps at St. Petersburg. First championship was 2001 Brazilian Chevrolet Formula Junior series.

ROW 5

13. (32) Mario Moraes, 21, Sao Paulo, Brazil; KV Racing Technology-Curb/Agajanian; 224.888 mph. Former karting star, finished second in South American F3 series in 2006 and 14th in the British F3 International Series in 2007. Joined IndyCar Series in 2008. Finished 2009 with four straight top-10 finishes, including IndyCar best of third at Chicago. Was 22nd last year at Indy after placing 18th in 2008. Season-best finish was sixth at Long Beach and is tied for 13th in points.

14. (21) Davey Hamilton, 47, Nampa, Idaho; de Ferran Dragon Racing; 224.852 mph. Making only fourth start, all at Indianapolis, since he was seriously injured in a crash at Texas in 2001 and underwent 21 operations on feet and legs. At the time, he was the only driver to compete in every IndyCar race since league began in 1996. Finished ninth, 14th and 29th at Indy last three years. Best finish in eight races at Indy was fourth in 1998. IndyCar Series runner-up in 1997 and 1998.

15. (24) Mike Conway, 26, Bromley, England, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing; 224.583 mph. British Formula 3 Renault champion in 2004 and British Formula 3 International champion in 2006. Drove two seasons in GP2 Series before joining IndyCar Series last season at St. Petersburg. Best finish in IndyCars was third at Infineon in 2009. Had season-best eighth at Brazil in season opener. Ranks 15th in points.

ROW 6

16. (26) Marco Andretti, 23, Nazareth, Pa.; Andretti Autosport; 224.575 mph. Indy runner-up and rookie of the year in 2006, when he was passed by Sam Hornish Jr. just before the checkered flag. Crashed and finished 24th at Indy in 2007, third in 2008 and 30th last year (handling problems). Had season-best fifth at Alabama after leading 58 laps. Is tied for 13th in points. Only IndyCar win in 70 career starts came at Infineon in 2006. Son of car owner Michael Andretti, grandson of 1969 Indy winner Mario Andretti.

17. (37) Ryan Hunter-Reay, 29, Boca Raton, Fla.; Andretti Autosport; 224.547 mph. IndyCar series rookie of the year in 2007 and Indy 500 rookie of the year in 2008 after finishing sixth. Completed only 19 laps and finished 32nd at Indy in 2009 with Vision Racing. Led 64 of 85 laps at Long Beach to become only driver from team than Penske or Ganassi to win this year. Finished 2nd at Brazil. Fourth in points behind Power, Dixon and Castroneves. Current sponsorship deal only goes for two more races Indy and Texas. Won three Grand National karting championships in the 1990s.

18. (4) w-Dan Wheldon, 31, Emberton, England; Panther Racing; 224.464 mph. The Indy 500 winner and IndyCar champion in 2005 has not won since Iowa in 2008, a span of 31 races. Was last year's runner-up at Indy, finishing 1.9819 seconds behind Castroneves. Has not led a lap this season despite finishing fifth at Brazil and ninth at Long Beach. Tied for 10th in points with Matos. Former rookie of year in U.S. F2000, Toyota Atlantic, Indy Lights and IndyCar series.

ROW 7

19. (8T) E.J. Viso, 25, Caracas, Venezuela; KV Racing Technology; 224.380 mph. A test driver in Formula One in 2006, he also competed in the European GP 2 Series, winning twice. No wins in 37 IndyCar starts with best finish being fourth at St. Petersburg in 2008. Only top-10 finish in 2009 was seventh at Watkins Glen. Led one lap at St. Petersburg this season, where he finished season-best 12th. Completed 139 laps in first two Indy starts, going out both times with mechanical problems. Indy finishes: 26th in 2008 and 24th last year.

20. (23) Tomas Scheckter, 29, Cape Town, South Africa; Dreyer & Reinbold Racing; 224.261 mph. Making season-debut at Indy. Son of 1979 F1 champion Jody Scheckter. Runner-up in the British Formula 3 championship in 2000 and in Formula Nissan series in 2001. Led 85 laps and was co-rookie of year at Indianapolis in 2002 and finished fourth in 2003. Hasn't led lap at Indy since 2003. Only other top-10 at Indy was seventh in 2007. Only IndyCar wins came at Michigan in 2002 and Texas in 2005.

21. (25) r-Ana Beatriz, 25, Sao Paulo, Brazil; Dreyer & Reinbold Racing; 224.243 mph. Made IndyCar debut in season-opener at Brazil, starting 22nd and finishing 13th. Has not started last four IndyCar races. Spent 2008 and 2009 competing on Indy Lights circuit, becoming first woman to win in series at Nashville in 2008. Won Indy Lights Rising Star Award in 2008. Finished fifth in South American Formula 3 points in 2006 and won three times in Brazilian Formula Renault Series from 2003-05.

ROW 8

22. (78) r-Simona de Silvestro, 21, Thun, Switzerland; HVM Racing; 224.228 mph. Led 4 laps in IndyCar debut at Brazil before finishing 16th. Was 16th again at St. Petersburg, matching season-best. Finished 21st in first oval race at Kansas and is 20th in points (65). Won four times and finished third in points in Team Stargate Worlds last season. Became second woman to win an Atlantics race, and five career wins make her winningest woman in Atlantics history. Had two third-place finishes in U.S. Grand Prix support races at Indy before joining IndyCar series this season.

23. (7) Danica Patrick, 28, Roscoe, Ill. Andretti Autosport; 224.217 mph. Finished third at Indianapolis last year. Was fifth in point standings last year but has only one top 10 finish this year. First woman to win major open-wheel race with victory in Japan in 2008. Indy and IRL rookie of the year in 2005, when she won three poles and started and finished fourth at Indianapolis. Is only woman to lead the race (2005).

24. (36) r-Bertrand Baguette, 24, Verviers, Belgium. Conquest Racing; 224.189 mph. Is fourth driver from Belgium to qualify for the Indy 500. World Series by Renault 3.5 Series champion in 2009 with five wins. Has driven in three IndyCar races this year.

ROW 9

25. (33) Bruno Junqueira, 33, Belo Horizonte, Brazil. FAZZT Race Team; 225.662 mph. Finished fifth in Indy 500 in both 2001 and 2004. Has not raced in IndyCar this season. Did not drive his car until Bump Day. Won the Indy 500 pole in 2002 and led 32 laps before leaving the race with a gearbox failure.

26. (19) Alex Lloyd, 25, Manchester, England. Dale Coyne Racing; 224.783 mph. Qualified 11th and finished 13th at last year's Indy 500. Has earned 12 points in all five IndyCar races this year. Finished eighth at Homestead-Miami Speedway last year. Won Indy Lights series championship in 2007. Won the developmental series' Liberty Challenge in 2006 and Freedom 100 in 2007, making him the only driver to win on both the oval and road courses at Indy.

27. (34) r-Mario Romancini, 22, Sao Paulo, Brazil. Conquest Racing; 224.641 mph. Won at Milwaukee and Homestead-Miami and was third at Indianapolis in the Firestone Indy Lights series in 2009. Has started all five IndyCar races this season.

ROW 10

28. (43) John Andretti, 47, Indianapolis. Richard Petty/Andretti Autosport; 224.518 mph. Nephew of Mario Andretti and cousin of Michael and Marco Andretti. Finished 19th in last year's Indy 500. Placed ninth at Kansas this year in his only IndyCar race. Best finish in nine Indy 500s was fifth in 1991; only IndyCar win also in 1991 in Australia.

29. (67) Sarah Fisher, 29, Commercial Point, Ohio. Sarah Fisher Racing; 224.434 mph. Became third woman to race at Indianapolis in 2000. Best finish was second at Homestead in 2001. Became first woman to start from pole in a major U.S. race at Kentucky in 2002. Best finish at Indy is 17th last year. Formed her own race team in 2008 and added Jay Howard as a driver this year.

30. (14) Vitor Meira, 33, Brasilia, Brazil. A.J. Foyt Enterprises, 224.388 mph. Holds IndyCar record with 102 career starts without a win. Finished second at Indianapolis in 2005 and 2008 and has been runner-up six other times in his career. Finished third at Sao Paulo this season. Broke his back at Indianapolis last year and missed the rest of the season.

ROW 11

31. (5) r-Takuma Sato, 33, Tokyo. KV Racing Technology, 224.178 mph. Made 91 Formula One starts. Placed third in the U.S. Grand Prix in Indianapolis in 2008. Finished eighth in the 2004 Formula One World Championship. Is 22nd in point standings heading into Indy.

32. (29) r-Sebastian Saavedra, 19, Bogota, Colombia. Bryan Herta Autosport, 223.634. Is driving in Firestone Indy Lights Series, where he won two races and finished third in points last season. Crashed on last day of Indy 500 qualifying this past Sunday and backed into the field. Found out he qualified while in the hospital. Has been cleared to drive.

33. (11) Tony Kanaan, 35, Salvador, Brazil. Andretti Autosport, 224.072 mph. Finished second in the Indy 500 in 2004 and third in 2003. Was pole winner in 2005. Won points championship in 2004. Crashed and finished 27th in last year's Indy 500. Crashed on both qualifying days this year and barely made it into the field. Is the only driver to lead in each of his first seven starts at Indianapolis.