Indy 500 entry list starts filling up
The entry list for next month's Indianapolis 500 will be announced early next week and it could have more than 40 car-and-driver combinations, including a ride for Scott Sharp with Panther Racing that was confirmed Thursday.
Brian Barnhart, the chief steward of the race, said he believes the final count will "end up about in the 35 to 36 category. And that will make for a pretty good field."
Sharp's deal to drive the No. 16 car with Patron sponsorship is the first of several that could be finalized in the next few days. Tomas Scheckter and Team 3G could be next.
There were 22 cars at last weekend's season-opening race in St. Petersburg, Fla. All are expected at Indy.
Sharp, Scheckter and possibly two additional cars apiece from three teams (A.J. Foyt Racing, KV Racing Technology and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing) could bring the count to 30. One of those D&R cars is for John Andretti; one of Foyt's is for A.J. Foyt IV. Paul Tracy has yet to be confirmed as one of KV's drivers, but Barnhart expects him in a car.
Sarah Fisher Racing will field a car for Sarah Fisher, and it has purchased a second car from Sam Schmidt Motorsports that it also hopes to run in the 500. Alex Lloyd has been announced as the driver of the Schmidt/Ganassi partnership. That would be 33 cars.
To reach or exceed 40, some or all of the following would have to occur:
Rahal Letterman Racing is hoping to finalize a program -- drivers Buddy Rice, Bruno Junqueira or Oriol Servia are in the running.
Hemelgarn Racing could return.
Conquest Racing and Dale Coyne Racing, both full-season teams, may add second cars.
Roth Racing could field one or two cars as Marty Roth hasn't sold his equipment.
Bryan Herta said Thursday he is "about 50-50" for fielding a car, likely with a driver other than himself.
Andretti Green Racing may field a fifth car, for former Formula One and Champ Car driver Franck Montagny.
Team Penske will field a third car if Helio Castroneves is cleared in his federal tax evasion case.