Profiles of the 33 drivers in Sunday’s Indianapolis 500, in starting order with car number in parentheses, age, hometown, engine, race team, and biographical information (w-former winner; r-rookie):
1. (20) Ed Carpenter, 32, Indianapolis; Chevrolet, Ed Carpenter Racing. Stepson of former speedway executive Tony George became first member of track-owning family to win Indianapolis 500 pole. Has two career wins. Started own team last season and was in contention for 500 victory late in last year’s race. Is only owner-driver in series. Ed Carpenter Racing dubbed itself as “the little team that could” and carries the decals from Carpenter’s alma mater, Butler, the little school that reached back-to-back NCAA championship games as proof. Has 32 top-10 finishes in 132 career starts but highest finish this season is 14th at St. Petersburg. Regular attendee of Indiana Pacers games. Close friends with Butler coach Brad Stevens.
2. (26) r-Carlos Munoz, 21, Bogota, Colombia; Chevrolet, Andretti Autosport. Firestone Indy Lights points leader will make IndyCar debut at 500. Youngest driver in race, born three months later than Conor Daly. Finished twice with day’s fastest practice lap, consistently near top of speed charts all month. First rookie to start on front row since Juan Pablo Montoya in 2000. Montoya also is from Colombia and won race that year. Won twice last season in Lights Series, at Edmonton and Fontana. Ran previously in Italian Formula Renault 2.0 and Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 Championships, Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 and Formula Renault 2.0 West European Cup.
3. (25) Marco Andretti, 26, Nazareth, Pa.; Chevrolet, Andretti Autosport. Consistently fast for second straight May at Indy. Comes into race second in points and off to best start of career despite running first four races on road and street courses. Exudes confidence heading back to his favorite courses, ovals. Finished as Indy runner-up in 2006 in second-closest finish in race’s history. Still chasing family’s first win at Brickyard since grandfather, Mario, won in 1969. Father, Michael, has been to Indy’s Victory Lane twice as team owner with the late Dan Wheldon in 2005 and Dario Franchitti in 2007. Also finished third in 2008 and 2010 and fourth last year at Indy. Has two IndyCar wins in 118 starts. Has changed to No. 25 after spending last seven seasons in No. 26 car.
4. (5) E.J. Viso, 28, Caracas, Venezuela; Chevrolet, Andretti Autosport. Taking advantage of first shot with one of IndyCar’s big-name teams, delivering impressive qualifying run. Led 110 laps in season opener at St. Petersburg but finished seventh. Following finishes of 12th and 22nd in next two races, qualified career-best second at Brazil then finished with season-best sixth. Only Venezuelan starting this year’s race. Has three top-fives in 86 IndyCar starts. Produced career-best finish of third at Iowa in 2010. Was Formula One test driver in 2006. Competed in European GP 2 Series, winning twice. Best finish at Indy was 18th last year.
5. (2) r-AJ Allmendinger, 31, Los Gatos, Calif., Chevrolet, Team Penske. Named after first four-time Indy winner, A.J. Foyt. Former Cup driver for Roger Penske made IndyCar debut for Penske at Barber, starting 10th and finishing 19th. Also raced at Long Beach. Lost job with Penske’s NASCAR team last summer after failing random drug test. Penske gave Allmendinger second chance in series where his team has had its greatest success. Ran fast enough this month that teammate Will Power used Allmendinger’s setup in qualifying. Penske has added Detroit race to Allmendinger’s post-Indy schedule. Won five times in 40 career starts in now defunct Champ Car.
6. (12) Will Power, 32, Toowoomba, Australia; Chevrolet, Team Penske. Comes to Indy after three straight runner-up finishes in series championship. Bad luck at Indy continued on Pole Day when No. 12 car posted 228.884 mph more, more than 0.5 mph faster than next best qualifier but lost pole in nine-car shootout late in day. Been extremely successful on road and street courses, winning Mario Andretti Road Trophy last three years. Got first career oval win at Texas in 2011. Has won 15 races since joining Team Penske as part-time driver in 2009 but has only top-10 finish in 2013 — fifth place at Barber. Completed 799 of 800 possible laps in first four Indy starts finishing career best fifth in 2009.
7. (1) Ryan Hunter-Reay, 32, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Chevrolet, Andretti Autosport. Defending series champion and last year’s A.J. Foyt Trophy as best driver on ovals. Won season’s second race, at Barber. Other three finishes are 18th at St. Pete, 24th at Long Beach and 11th at Brazil. Won four times last season. Has seven wins since moving to IndyCars from Champ Car in 2007. Competed in Indy’s nine-car pole shootout for second straight year after starting last in 33-car field in 2011 when switched from Michael Andretti’s non-qualified car to one that A.J. Foyt’s team qualified. Making sixth career Indy start but hasn’t finished higher than 18th since rookie season when sixth-place finish gave him 500 rookie of the year honors. Was IndyCar series rookie of year in 2007. Became first-time father in 2012. Is fan of Miami Heat.
8. (3) w-Helio Castroneves, 38, Sao Paulo; Chevrolet, Team Penske. One of series’ best-known drivers has been one of most successful in speedway history. One of two foreign-born three-time 500 winners (2001, 2002 and 2009). Other is Dario Franchitti. Also was Indy runner-up in 2003. Has 10 top-10s in 12 starts at 500. Tied with Rex Mays and A.J. Foyt for second-most career Indy poles (four), trailing only Rick Mears (six). Comes to Indianapolis second in points this year and still seeking first points title in either CART or IndyCars. Won two races last season after failing to win a race in 2011 for first time in career. Former “Dancing with the Stars” winner has 21 IndyCar wins since 2001, though Team Penske still looking for first win of season.
9. (27) James Hinchcliffe, 26, Toronto; Chevrolet, Andretti Autosport. Season’s only two-time race winner comes to Indy with momentum after making last-turn pass to beat Takuma Sato at Brazil. Fourth in points this season after finishing eighth last year. Two other finishes this season were 26th. Took over Andretti’s GoDaddy car after Danica Patrick left for NASCAR in 2012. Was IndyCar rookie of year in 2011. Writes words “Go” and “Stop” on racing shoes, something he did before making jump to IndyCars. Attempting to join Jacques Villeneuve (1995) as only Canadians to win 500. Worked as radio broadcaster for speedway’s network at 2010 Indy 500. Self-appointed Mayor of Hinchtown, an online community created by himself.
10. (4) JR Hildebrand, 25, Sausalito, Calif.; Chevrolet, Panther Racing. Has five top-five finishes in 38 career starts, including season-best fifth at Long Beach this season. Just missed qualifying for last weekend’s pole shootout. Best-known as hard-luck 500 runner-up, crashing on last turn of last lap in 2011 while trying to pass Charlie Kimball’s slower car. Skidded across finish line in second to the late Dan Wheldon. Hasn’t finished higher than fourth since crash that prevented him from being first American rookie to win 500 since Louis Meyer in 1928. Panther Racing’s streak of four straight second-place finishes ended last year. Won 2009 Indy Lights title with four victories. Was national merit scholar, graduating from high school with 4.12 GPA.