Motorsports

2022 Indianapolis 500: Row-by-row race preview

INDIANAPOLIS — Welcome to our annual ESPN.com Motorsports public service, when we give you the information you need to arm yourself as an expert on the Indianapolis 500, the Greatest Spectacle in Racing held at the Racing Capital of the World for the 106th time this Sunday afternoon in Speedway, Indiana.

We totally recognize that the Indy 500 is one of those events like the Kentucky Derby or X Games, or especially the Olympics, when the general public watches sporting events that they don’t regularly follow. In those cases, knowledge is power. And here is the knowledge to give you the power to tell from the couch, “I knew this guy was going to do that because I just read this!”

Enjoy the race. You’re welcome.

How to watch
When: Sunday, noon ET
TV: NBC

Row 1

Scott Dixon
2008 Indy 500 winner
No. 9

Hometown: Auckland, New Zealand
Team: Chip Ganassi Racing
Engine: Honda
Car color: Burnt orange and blue
Milk choice if he wins: Whole

Why you should care about him: He’s the greatest IndyCar racer of this century, and with 51 wins and a half-dozen championships, he has a solid argument to be in the G.O.A.T. debate alongside the likes of A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti. What’s holding him back? He has “only” one Indy 500 win, and that came way back in 2008. He’s on the pole for the fifth time, and his four-lap average speed of 234.046 mph is the second-fastest qualifying run in the 106-year history of the race. “That’s fantastic,” he said Thursday. “But history doesn’t care if you lead the first lap. The only lap that matters is the last one.”

Alex Palou
No. 10
Hometown: Sant Antoni de Vilamajor, Spain
Team: Chip Ganassi Racing
Engine: Honda
Car color: White with light blue nose and wing
Milk choice if he wins: Whole

Why you should care about him: A year ago in this preview we wrote that he had “shocked” the field with his first career IndyCar win on April 18, 2021. Then he won twice more, finished second at Indy and went on to win the season championship at the ripe old age of 24. His days of shocking people via wins are over.

Rinus Veekay
No. 21
Hometown: Hoofddorp, Netherlands
Team: Ed Carpenter Racing
Engine: Chevy
Car color: Orange with red, white and blue Dutch flag painted on the front wing
Milk choice if he wins: Whole

Why you should care about him: The Netherlands’ greatest export isn’t tulips. It’s race car drivers. Max Verstappen is the reigning F1 champ and Veekay (short for Van Kalmthout) spent the first day of qualifying posting the third-fastest run in Indy 500 history. Who is first? The original “Flying Dutchman” himself, two-time Indy 500 winner Arie Luyendyk, who set the record back in 1996.

Row 2

Ed Carpenter
No. 20
Hometown: Indianapolis
Team: Ed Carpenter Racing
Engine: Chevy
Car color: Purple with light blue trim
Milk choice if he wins: Whole; he has long said that he wants buttermilk, a tribute to the first milk gulped in Victory Lane by Louis Meyer in 1936, but it’s not an option.

Why you should care about him: A career qualifying ace, Carpenter was raised in Speedway, Indiana, as the stepson of former Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar boss Tony George and step-grandson of Tony Hulman, the man who saved the racetrack after it had fallen into horrible disrepair during World War II.

Marcus Ericsson
No. 8
Hometown: Kumla, Sweden
Team: Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
Engine: Honda
Car color: Red top half, white bottom half, with alpine mountains painted on the nose
Milk choice if he wins: Whole

Why you should care about him: He won twice in 2021, but more importantly, he is sponsored by a Swedish chocolate drink, and it is super delicious. American Dairy Association Indiana Inc., the suppliers of the Victory Lane milk, don’t make chocolate an option, to the chagrin of several drivers. Would Ericsson sneak some sponsor product into the traditional milk jug? Indy traditionalists are still mad at Emerson Fittipaldi, who famously brought a jug of orange juice into Victory Lane in 1993 to promote his Brazilian juice business.

Tony Kanaan
2013 Indy 500 winner
No. 1

Hometown: Salvador, Brazil
Team: Chip Ganassi Racing
Engine: Honda
Car color: Red, white and blue with American Legion sponsorship for Memorial Day
Milk choice if he wins: 2%

Why you should care about him: He was going to retire two years ago but changed his mind when Jimmie Johnson asked to share a car in 2021. Kanaan talked Johnson into running the 500 this year and then recruited enough sponsorship so he could run it too. When asked about retirement Thursday, the beloved 47-year-old Brazilian said, “I don’t know. I thought I already was retired. But clearly I’m not, so I think I will keep going for a little while yet.”

Row 3

Pato O’Ward
No. 5
Hometown: Monterrey, Mexico
Team: Arrow McLaren SP
Engine: Chevy
Car color: Dark McLaren racing orange sidepods, with black nose and top and light blue rear
Milk choice if he wins: Whole

Why you should care about him: Patricio O’Ward was born in Monterrey and raised in Mexico City. When he won his first IndyCar pole position, he wore a custom sombrero that featured a logo made from his initials. Now Pato Sombreros are among the best selling souvenirs on IndyCar’s merchandise midway.

Felix Rosenqvist
No. 7
Hometown: Vamamo, Sweden
Team: Arrow McLaren SP
Engine: Chevy
Car color: McLaren racing orange sidepods, with green nose and top and light blue rear
Milk choice if he wins: 2%

Why you should care about him: If his name didn’t tip you off to his Swedish-ness, perhaps this will. He lists his hobby as “competing against the clock when putting together furniture from IKEA.”

Romain Grosjean
Indy 500 rookie
No. 28

Hometown: Geneva, Switzerland
Team: Andretti Autosport
Engine: Honda
Car color: Yellow with rainbow trim
Milk choice if he wins: Whole

Why you should care about him: If you’re thinking, “Hey, isn’t that the guy who crashed in the 2020 F1 season finale and came walking out of a raging inferno like a superhero?” then you would be correct. He’s that guy, now nicknamed “The Phoenix.” After nearly 200 F1 starts, he’s now in IndyCar and making his Indy 500 debut. And yes, if you ask to see the scars from that fire he will totally show them to you.

Row 4

Takuma Sato
2017, 2020 Indy 500 winner
No. 51

Hometown: Tokyo
Team: Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing
Engine: Honda
Car color: White top, purple and yellow sidepods
Milk choice if he wins: 2%

Why you should care about him: His motto is “No attack, no chance.” He’s trying to become the first driver to win this race driving for three different teams.

Will Power
2018 Indy 500 winner
No. 12

Hometown: Toowoomba, Australia
Team: Team Penske
Engine: Chevy
Car color: Orange nose, red body, purple rear end
Milk choice if he wins: Whole. He used to say “no preference” but got tired of the flak he caught for being noncommittal and finally made a pick.

Why you should care about him: His career would be more widely heralded as one of the greatest ever seen — 40 wins (5th all-time), 64 poles (2nd all-time), 2014 IndyCar champ and 2018 Indy 500 winner — but he has always suffered from a serious Scott Dixon overshadowing issue. A victory Sunday would give him something Dixon doesn’t have, a second face on the Borg-Warner Trophy.

Jimmie Johnson
Indy 500 rookie
No. 48

Hometown: El Cajon, California
Team: Chip Ganassi Racing
Engine: Honda
Car color: Light blue with a yellow stripe down the spine
Milk choice if he wins: Whole, with the added note: “Please make sure it’s cold.”

Why you should care about him: Yes, this is the guy from NASCAR. Several IndyCar legends have won on NASCAR’s biggest stages — A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti and Johnny Rutherford come to mind — but no stock car champ has ever crossed over the other way and won IndyCar’s biggest race. Johnson is a 46-year-old rookie. You can read more about his road to Indy in this amazing story written by a really handsome ESPN senior writer.

Row 5

David Malukas
Indy 500 rookie
No. 18

Hometown: Chicago
Team: Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsports
Engine: Honda
Car color: White with red and black center stripes and sidepods
Milk choice if he wins: 2%

Why you should care about him: Because he is the American Dream. This Indy 500 rookie races under the flags of the United States and Lithuania. His parents, Henry and Daiva, grew up under the flag of the Soviet Union, secretly watching movies like “Karate Kid” on a VCR and dreaming of moving to America. As soon the Iron Curtain fell, the newlyweds moved to the USA without knowing a word of English. Henry became a truck driver, eventually buying his own rig with cash and now HMD (Henry, Malukas, Daiva) Trucking is a multimillion dollar business.

Josef Newgarden
No. 2

Hometown: Nashville, Tennessee
Team: Team Penske
Engine: Chevy
Car color: White with thick gold stripes
Milk choice if he wins: Whole

Why you should care about him: He is the most successful American-born IndyCar racer of the last decade, earning 22 wins and a pair of series championships. The only missing piece of his r´sum´ is a win in the 500. His best finish was a third-place run in 2016, the year before he joined the Penske juggernaut.

Santino Ferrucci
No. 23

Hometown: Woodbury, Connecticut
Team: Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
Engine: Chevy
Car color: A three-layer paint scheme, black on top, white in the middle, and orange on the bottom, like a Halloween Oreo
Milk choice if he wins: Whole with an added request of “ice cold”

Why you should care about him: Do you like edgy dudes? Did you know he once received a fine for texting while driving a race car? Did you know he got into trouble in F2 for wrecking a teammate during a postrace lap? He was parked by IndyCar officials for the last 20 minutes of Carb Day practice for causing a big crash. Also, have you seen his haircut?

Row 6

Simon Pagenaud
No. 60

Hometown: Montmorillon, France
Team: Meyer Shank Racing
Engine: Honda
Car color: Pink and black
Milk choice if he wins: Whole

Why you should care about him: The man is funny. He and his wife live in Charlotte where they hang out with the NASCAR drivers who live around them. So, naturally he likes to quote Jean Girard, the French bad guy from “Talladega Nights.”

JR Hildebrand
No. 11

Hometown: Sausalito, California
Team: A.J. Foyt Racing
Engine: Chevy
Car color: Full-on American flag stars and stripes
Milk choice if he wins: Whole

Why you should care about him: We write this every year, and it is still very true. Do a web search for “2011 Indy 500 finish” and tell me you don’t want this guy to win this race.

Conor Daly
No. 20

Hometown: Noblesville, Indiana
Team: Ed Carpenter Racing
Engine: Chevy
Car color: Royal blue with gold trim
Milk choice if he wins: Whole

Why you should care about him: So many reasons, from his mullet to his lineage as the son of longtime racer and motorsports broadcaster Derek Daly. But you’ll never love him as much as he loves EDM music. He might be distracted by the happenings in the Turn 3 Snake Pit, where DeadMaus, Steve Aoki and Galantis will be rocking during the race.

Row 7

Callum Ilott
Indy 500 rookie
No. 77

Hometown: Cambridge, England
Team: Juncos Hollinger Racing
Engine: Chevy
Car color: White with green cockpit and nose trim, black rear quarter panels
Milk choice if he wins: 2%

Why you should care about him: Because his name is super fun to say, pronounced “CAL-um EYE-lot.”

Alexander Rossi
2016 Indy 500 winner
No. 27

Hometown: Nevada City, California
Team: Andretti Autosport
Engine: Honda
Car color: Royal blue and gold
Milk choice if he wins: Whole

Why you should care about him: You might recognize him as the shocking rookie winner of the 2016 Indy 500 … or as the wild man who has been the most exciting loser of the race the past few years … or from his stint on “The Amazing Race” with fellow IndyCar racer Conor Daly.

Graham Rahal
No. 15

Hometown: New Albany, Ohio
Team: Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Engine: Honda
Car color: Dark red spine, blue sides, white nose
Milk choice if he wins: 2%

Why you should care about him: The son of 1986 winner Bobby Rahal is now a father himself. Daughter Harlan Ann was born to Graham and wife, NHRA drag racing star Courtney Force, on Nov. 2, 2020.

Row 8

Sage Karam
No. 24

Hometown: Nazareth, Pennsylvania
Team: Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
Engine: Chevy
Car color: Light blue with white up the spine and inside sidepods
Milk choice if he wins: 2%

Why you should care about him: He has modeled for Saks 5th Avenue and Express for Men. The blue of his car matches the color of his eyes. For real.

Marco Andretti
No. 98

Hometown: Nazareth, Pennsylvania
Team: Andretti Autosport
Engine: Honda
Car color: Purple with light blue nose and white rear quarter panels
Milk choice if he wins: Whole, with the added note of “No orange juice.” See: What we taught you earlier about Emerson Fittipaldi.

Why you should care about him: The Andretti Curse. Grandfather Mario won the 1969 Indy 500, and the family has been 0-for-ever since, including countless heartbreaks for Marco’s father, Michael. Marco is sick of hearing about the curse and, honestly, we in the media corps are sick of writing about it. If he were to win Sunday, the grandstand celebration would be unhinged.

Devlin DeFrancesco
Indy 500 rookie
No. 29

Hometown: Toronto
Team: Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport
Engine: Honda
Car color: Yellow with orange trim
Milk choice if he wins: Whole with an added request for chocolate (they don’t do that, unfortunately)

Why you should care about him: Yes, that Steinbrenner name is the Steinbrenner family who owns the New York Yankees, co-owed by the grandson of legendary MLB owner George. This year George IV has been at the racetrack less as he has started to move into a front-office job with the Yankees.

Row 9

Colton Herta
No. 26

Hometown: Valencia, California
Team: Andretti Autosport
Engine: Honda
Car color: Black and gold with blue trim
Milk choice if he wins: Whole, again with a request for chocolate, but again, they don’t do that

Why you should care about him: He’s widely regarded as the face and future of American-born open wheel racers, so much so that at the F1 Miami GP earlier this month his name was mentioned in paddock nearly as much as those who were in the race. Said Mario Andretti in Miami: “If an American is going to make it work in Formula One, I believe it will be him.”

Scott McLaughlin
No. 3

Hometown: Christchurch, New Zealand
Team: Team Penske
Engine: Chevy
Car color: Super-bright yellow
Milk choice if he wins: Whole

Why you should care about him: His ride is the most legendary in the field. The old school Pennzoil “Yellow Submarine” paint job was first made famous in the 1970s by three-time Indy 500 winner Johnny Rutherford and was then piloted by four-time victors Rick Mears and Helio Castroneves. So, no pressure, right? At least he has Mears as his mentor.

Helio Castroneves
2001, 2002, 2009, 2021 Indy 500 winner
No. 06

Hometown: Sao Paulo, Brazil
Team: Meyer Shank Racing
Engine: Honda
Car color: Black top, dark pink (or is dark purple?) sidepods
Milk choice if he wins: 2% plus “pink powder, please”

Why you should care about him: After spending a dozen years stuck on three Indy 500 wins, @H3lio finally joined the Speedway’s most prestigious club to stand alongside A.J. Foyt, Al Unser Sr. and Rick Mears as four-time winners. Another win and he’ll start an even more exclusive club, of one.

Row 10

Kyle Kirkwood
Indy 500 rookie
No. 14

Hometown: Jupiter, Florida
Team: A.J. Foyt Racing
Engine: Chevy
Car color: Black
Milk choice if he wins: Whole with an added “ice cold, please”

Why you should care about him: Are you frustrated because social media companies won’t give you a blue checkmark? Well, Kirkwood is the reigning Indy Lights champion, drives A.J. Foyt’s legendary No. 14 and is making his first Indy 500 start and just this week was rejected for verification. He responded: “I think Twitter and Instagram are just teaming up against me.”

Dalton Kellett
No. 4

Hometown: Toronto
Team: A.J. Foyt Racing
Engine: Chevy
Car color: White with light aqua blue nose and black rear wing
Milk choice if he wins: Whole with note “fresh, cold milk”

Why you should care about him: He is donating every single dollar he makes from merchandise sales to support the families of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

Juan Pablo Montoya
2000, 2015 Indy 500 winner

No. 6
Hometown: Bogota, Colombia
Team: Arrow McLaren SP
Engine: Chevy
Car color: White fading into light blue with gray rear quarters
Milk choice if he wins: No preference, but wrote in “chocolate” as he does every year (he says it photographs better)

Why you should care about him: Never one for a lot of emotion (unless it’s anger), he was openly emotional when he won his second Indy 500 in 2015, admitting that he hadn’t appreciated his first win in 2000 like he should have. A victory this weekend would make him just the sixth member of the Three-Timers club.

Row 11

Christian Lundgaard
Indy 500 rookie
No. 30

Hometown: Hendensted, Denmark
Team: Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Engine: Honda
Car color: White with light gold and royal blue trim
Milk choice if he wins: Whole

Why you should care about him: He’s the first Denmark-born racer to run the Indy 500. Also, he makes lasagna from scratch, like makes the noodles and everything, which honestly might be just as impressive as driving a racecar 230 mph.

Jack Harvey
No. 45

Hometown: Bassingham, England
Team: Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Engine: Honda
Car color: Black with bright orange lettering
Milk choice if he wins: Whole

Why you should care about him: This guy is a Star Wars geek of the highest order, even unveiling a Star Wars-themed helmet for Sunday’s race as he noted, “This week was the 45th anniversary of Star Wars being released and I’m driving car number 45, so I’m just saying…” And yes, he got up early on Carb Day to watch the first two episodes of “Obi-Wan Kenobi” on Disney Plus.

Stefan Wilson
No. 25

Hometown: Sheffield, UK
Team: DragonSpeed/Cusick Motorsports
Engine: Chevy
Car color: White midsection, black sidepods, red middle stripe
Milk choice if he wins: Whole

Why you should care about him: Barely made the field and did so via some epic financial and political scrambling, putting together his ride earlier this month. It was very old school and also very stressful. Explained the 32-year-old Brit: “It was like being on ‘Survivor.’ But if you want to make your dreams come true, you have do the work.”




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