Indy 500: Updated Field Notes, Drivers Meet Kids, Crew Members Rebuild
(Indianapolis 500 Community Day - Wednesday, May 24, 2023)
Crew members are always at work on the race-cars; their work never ends. And the team of Graham Rahal is especially busy this week getting it together for the surprise entry of Graham Rahal.
Driver Takuma Sato thanked crew members in a tweet on Wednesday:
The announcement was made on Tuesday that Graham Rahal would be back in the race, after being bumped out of the race on Sunday by teammate Jack Harvey.
Rahal, from New Albany, Ohio, will make his 16th career start in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” on Sunday, May 28 (live, 11 a.m. ET, NBC, Peacock, Universo, INDYCAR Radio Network). He became available for the DRR/Cusick seat after he was bumped from the starting field by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing teammate Jack Harvey on Sunday afternoon.
“I’ll admit it was a very tough weekend for me and the United Rentals/Fifth Third Bank/RLL team,” Rahal said. “We tried everything, and we just didn’t have the speed. I’m very sad that Stefan was injured in practice on Monday. I wish him a quick recovery. I want to thank Dennis (DRR owner Dennis Reinbold) and Don (Cusick Motorsports owner Don Cusick) for giving me this opportunity in the No. 24 car. I’m anxious to work with the team and prepare for the greatest race in the world, the Indianapolis 500.”
Rahal has previous experience with DRR. He drove to a ninth-place finish with the team in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES race in 2010 at Iowa Speedway.
“We are very sad that Stefan was injured Monday and now is unable to compete this Sunday in the No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing/Cusick Motorsports/CareKeepers Chevrolet,” Reinbold said. “Stefan put so much effort into this race that it is just heartbreaking for this to have happened. We have known Graham for over a decade as he drove our car in 2010 at Iowa Speedway. He suffered through a tough weekend here, but we believe Graham can perform very well this Sunday.
“And I want to thank Bobby Rahal and his entire Rahal Letterman Lanigan team for granting us the opportunity to have Graham join us this week. We also want to thank everyone in the INDYCAR SERIES garage area for offering their assistance after Stefan’s unfortunate incident on Monday. So many people came to us and asked if we needed anything yesterday. It shows the camaraderie within the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. We are anxious to get Graham on the track now in the No. 24 machine.”
The DRR/Cusick team is preparing a backup car for Rahal, who is scheduled to drive the No. 24 car during the final two-hour practice Friday on Miller Lite Carb Day. Rahal’s partners Fifth Third Bank and United Rentals will join the team’s Indy 500 effort.
“First, I feel bad for Stefan that he is hurt," RLL co-owner Bobby Rahal said. "I’m sure he was very excited after qualifying for the race and had done a great job all month. It’s a real shame that this happened. I wish him the best and hope he has a speedy recovery. I’m sure we will see him again. “I have to say this came out of the blue. I’ve known Dennis for years personally. I have always liked and respected him as a fellow racer and also a car dealer. When Dennis called, we went to work to make this happen. The most amazing thing is how all these different groups, out of respect for the sport and the Indy 500, agreed to agree and go forward even though it may have been somewhat of a difficult decision. The fact that everyone pulled together to make this happen for Dennis, and also for Graham, makes us very thankful. I am also thankful that Dennis asked Graham to join him and his team and appreciate the commitment and excitement from Mike, Dave, United Rentals and Fifth Third Bank to see this happen. We wish them the best in the race.”
Rahal will team with 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay on Sunday. Hunter-Reay qualified the team’s No. 23 Chevrolet-powered car in the 18th spot Saturday at 232.133.
“First and foremost, the only thing that matters is that Stefan is doing well considering the circumstances,” Cusick said. "We are completely gutted for Stefan and now will miss his favorite racing event, the legendary Indy 500. We wouldn’t be here without him, and we are committed to supporting him every step on the way to recovery and beyond. Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and our partners have been nothing but supportive, and I couldn’t be more thankful. I am happy that we could fill the seat of the No. 24 DRR/Cusick Motorsports/CareKeepers Chevy with a quality replacement in Graham Rahal. Graham knows the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval very well and we wish him the best this Sunday in ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.’”
Updates from Wednesday at the track are that there will be a very quick special session on Thursday for the team of Graham Rahal to get a little bit of testing in:
INDYCAR To Hold Special Session Thursday for Two Indy 500 Entries
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing/Cusick Motorsports, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing To Participate INDIANAPOLIS (Wednesday, May 24, 2023) – INDYCAR has announced a special session Thursday, May 25 for the No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet and the No. 44 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda after an Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge practice incident Monday involving both teams.
The 15-minute session will take place from 4:30-4:45 p.m. ET in preparation for final practice from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Friday on Miller Lite Carb Day. Graham Rahal is driving the No. 24 DRR Cusick Carekeepers Chevrolet, while Katherine Legge is behind the wheel of the No. 44 Hendrickson Honda fielded by RLL.
Each team will be allowed unlimited install laps (out and in) within the time frame. They will not be allowed to stay on the track to cross the start-finish line and the Yard of Bricks. The 107th Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for Sunday, May 28 (11 a.m. ET, NBC, Peacock, Universo, INDYCAR Radio Network).
Walking around Gasoline Alley on Wednesday, it was mostly quiet as many of the drivers participated in Community Day events around the city of Indianapolis, visiting schools and meeting their fans.
Photo- Drivers meet school children in Indianapolis for Community Day
However, the driver's team members were working on perfecting the cars, and the stall of Graham Rahal was especially busy getting his ride put together.
2023 is an exceptional year where Chevy and Honda have made a deal to allow Graham Rahal to replace Stefan Wilson, who had a tragic accident on Monday's practice day.
Everyone has handled the situation with love for Motorsports foremost in their minds, including Stefan Wilson and Graham Rahal, who has remained quite humble through a time of greats highs and great lows.
Wilson has sent messages of encouragement to Rahal, and the situation is really quite amazing to watch.
UPDATED FIELD NOTES
Note: Updated to reflect the addition of Graham Rahal and the subtraction of Stefan Wilson from starting field
INDIANAPOLIS – Facts and figures about the starting field for the 107th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Sunday, May 28 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. These are updated from the field notes issued Monday, May 22 due to the removal of the injured Stefan Wilson and the addition of Graham Rahal to the starting field.
Alex Palou earned his first career Indianapolis 500 pole. He is the first Spanish driver to win a pole for “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”
Alex Palou produced the fastest four-lap average speed in history for an Indianapolis 500 pole winner, 234.217 mph. The previous record was 234.046 set in 2022 by Scott Dixon. Arie Luyendyk set the all-time four-lap qualifying average speed record of 236.986 in 1996, but his run came on the second day of qualifications and wasn’t eligible for the pole.
Chip Ganassi Racing earned its third consecutive Indianapolis 500 pole, with Alex Palou in 2023 and Scott Dixon in 2021 and 2022. The last team to win three straight poles was Team Penske, which won four in a row from 1988-91.
This is the eighth Indianapolis 500 pole for Chip Ganassi Racing, the second-most of all time. Arie Luyendyk earned the team’s first “500” pole in 1993, followed by Bruno Junqueira in 2002 and Scott Dixon in 2008, 2015, 2017, 2021 and 2022. Team Penske leads with 18 poles.
This is the third time car No. 10 has won the Indianapolis 500 pole. The last time was 1993 with Arie Luyendyk, who earned Chip Ganassi Racing’s first “500” pole that year.
This is the fastest starting field in Indianapolis 500 history, with an average speed of 232.184 mph. The previous fastest starting field came in 2022, with an average speed of 231.023.
This is the third consecutive year the fastest field in history record has been set. This year’s field average speed is 232.184 mph. It was 231.023 in 2022 and 230.294 in 2021. The record before 2021 was 229.382, set in 2014.
This is the fastest front row in Indianapolis 500 history, with an average speed of 234.181 mph. The previous record was 233.643, set in 2022.
This is the closest front row in Indianapolis 500 history in terms of speed, with .103 of a mph separating pole winner Alex Palou from No. 3 starter Felix Rosenqvist. The previous record was .112 between pole sitter James Hinchcliffe and No. 3 starter Ryan Hunter-Reay in 2016.
The time gap between pole sitter Alex Palou and No. 2 qualifier Rinus VeeKay, .0040 of a second, is the closest in Indianapolis 500 history. The previous record was .01 between pole sitter Al Unser and No. 2 qualifier Johnny Rutherford in 1970.
The speed gap between pole sitter Alex Palou and No. 2 qualifier Rinus VeeKay, .006 of a mph, is the second closest in Indianapolis 500 history. The record is .003 between pole sitter Ryan Briscoe and No. 2 qualifier James Hinchcliffe in 2012.
Katherine Legge turned the fastest single qualifying lap (231.596 mph) and four-lap qualifying average (231.070) for a female driver in Indianapolis 500 history. The previous single-lap record was 230.201 by Simona De Silvestro in 2021; the previous four-lap record was 229.439 by Sarah Fisher in 2002.
Benjamin Pedersen turned the fastest qualifying lap by a rookie in Indianapolis 500 history, 233.297 mph. The previous record was 233.179 by Tony Stewart in 1996.
Benjamin Pedersen recorded the second-fastest four-lap qualifying average by a rookie in Indianapolis 500 history, 232.671 mph. The record is 233.100 set by Tony Stewart in 1996.
There were 84 qualifying attempts Saturday, May 21, an all-time record. The previous record was 73 in 2019.
Rinus VeeKay has qualified fourth or better in his four Indianapolis 500 starts. He qualified fourth as a rookie in 2020, third in 2021 and 2022, and second this year. That’s an average grid position of 3.0 for his first four starts. Only four drivers in Indianapolis 500 history have a better average grid position in their first four starts: Harry Hartz (2.25), Mario Andretti (2.5), Jim Clark (2.5) and Parnelli Jones (2.75).
There are nine former Indianapolis 500 winners in the starting field: Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002, 2009, 2021), Scott Dixon (2008), Tony Kanaan (2013), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2014), Alexander Rossi (2016), Takuma Sato (2017, 2020), Will Power (2018), Simon Pagenaud (2019) and Marcus Ericsson (2022). Between them, they have 13 victories. The record for most former winners in the field is 10, in 1992. The fewest, other than the inaugural race in 1911, is zero in 1912.
There are four rookies in the field: Benjamin Pedersen (starting 11th), Augustin Canapino (27th), RC Enerson (29th) and Sting Ray Robb (32nd).
Other than the four rookies, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Katherine Legge are the only drivers in the field who didn’t start in the race in 2022. Hunter-Reay’s last start was in 2021, Legge’s in 2013.
Helio Castroneves is the most experienced driver in the field, with 22 previous Indianapolis 500 starts. The record is 35, set in consecutive years from 1958-1992 by A.J. Foyt.
Scott Dixon has led 665 career laps in the Indianapolis 500, the all-time event record. Other drivers in the field who have led more than 200 laps are Tony Kanaan (352) and Helio Castroneves (325).
The oldest driver in the starting field is Tony Kanaan, 48 years, 148 days on Race Day. The youngest driver is David Malukas, 21 years, 243 days on Race Day. A.J. Foyt is the oldest driver to start the Indianapolis 500. He was 57 years, 128 days old when he made his last start in 1992. A.J. Foyt IV is the youngest driver to start the Indianapolis 500. His 19th birthday was on Race Day, 2003.
Tony Kanaan and Helio Castroneves will be older on Race Day than Al Unser when he became the oldest winner of the Indianapolis 500 in 1987 at age 47 years, 360 days old.
David Malukas, Sting Ray Robb and Christian Lundgaard will be younger on Race Day than Troy Ruttman when he became the youngest winner of the Indianapolis 500 in 1952 at age 22 years, 80 days old.
Agustin Canapino became the first Argentine driver to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 since Raul Riganti in 1940.
Nineteen different drivers in this year’s field have led a total of 2,572 laps in previous Indianapolis 500s.
There are a combined 235 previous Indianapolis 500 starts among the 33 drivers in this year’s field. The record is 260 years of experience, set in 1987 and 1992. There were 222 years of combined experience in last year’s field.
The most-experienced row in this year’s starting lineup is Row 3, with a combined 41 career starts (Alexander Rossi 7, Takuma Sato 13, Tony Kanaan 21). The least-experienced row is Row 9, with two combined career starts (Devlin DeFrancesco 1, Agustin Canapino 0, Callum Ilott 1).
There are nine former Indianapolis 500 winners in this year’s field. The record is 10, set in 1992.
There are seven former Indianapolis 500 Rookies of the Year in this year’s field. The record is nine, in 2021.
Nineteen of the 33 starters in this year’s field are veterans of INDY NXT by Firestone. The veterans are Marco Andretti, Ed Carpenter, Helio Castroneves, Conor Daly, Devlin DeFrancesco, Scott Dixon, RC Enerson, Jack Harvey, Colton Herta, Tony Kanaan, Kyle Kirkwood, David Malukas, Josef Newgarden, Pato O’Ward, Benjamin Pedersen, Graham Rahal, Sting Ray Robb, Felix Rosenqvist and Rinus VeeKay.