I’m hearing reports from several sources that the elusive 33rd entry for 106th running of the Indianapolis 500 will be announced soon, maybe later today. I will update this post should the announcement come later today. The entrant will not participate in the open test at IMS next week. It will be through Juncos Hollinger Racing, perhaps in an indirect way. I understand that Paretta Racing will be the entrant with Simona De Silvestro driving again.
I had no doubt that there would be 33 entries. Some traditions need to remain and the look of the 11 rows of three charging to the green flag is one that has to stay. The whole world is watching, and a row with a missing car would not be a good look.
There is some talk of a 34th entry as well. As much as I would like to see a large number of entries, 34 doesn’t excite me. Under the current qualifying format, Saturday’s qualifiers 31, 32, and 33 and any cars that didn’t make the top 33 need to requalify on Sunday. The fastest three of this group on Sunday make the race. Having four cars going for three spots is silly.
I think the Speedway would like an extra entry so they can l\have a more or less legitimate last chance session. If you have read this column for a while, you know my feelings on this segment of Sunday’s program. I do not think it fair for the last row to have to qualify again. This would especially be true if there are just 33 cars. Is starting 31st really better than starting 33rd?
I hope IMS and Indycar can show some flexibility if there are no more than 33 cars. Move the Fast Nine up to the first part of the day then open the track for practice in race trim.
There have been years in the past when no qualifier was bumped. 2022 should be one of those years. If a 34th entry shows up, just let it in the race. To make Sunday dramatic, the entry list needs to be at least 35 cars.
Qualifying on Saturday is exciting as drivers use the multiple attempts tor try to move into the first three rows or try to be one the fastest 33. There has been some great drama on Sunday with a lkarger entry list. In 2019 Kyle Kaiser bumped two time world champion Fernando Alonso on the day’s final attempt. Kaiser suffered a huge crash earlier in the week. The underfunded Juncos team rebuilt the car with a round the clock effort.
Last year the tension revolved around 2018 500 winner Will Power’s struggles to make the field, and veteran Charlie Kimball’s failure to qualify.
One extra car is simply not enough to make a show. I hope the entry list will be complete when the 33rd car is official. If another entry happens to materialize, just let them in. There have been several years when more than 33 cars started the race. We need at least 33 starters. One more won’t hurt.