The 2010 Indianapolis 500 preliminary entry list was released today, with 40 teams looking to qualify for 33 spots. Thus far, 34 drivers have been announced to join those 40 teams, with plenty of good seats still left open.
Of course, the entire full-time 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series field will attempt to qualify for the race, totaling 24 of the 40 cars on the list. Among the teams that already participate in IndyCar full-time, A.J. Foyt Enterprises, Andretti Autosport, de Ferran Luczo Dragon Racing, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, FAZZT Race Team, KV Racing Technology, and Panther Racing will expand their programs for Indy. Foyt and DRR will each add two cars to their stable for the race, while the rest will add one. These teams account for nine more of the hopefuls for the race, bringing the car count up to 33.
Many of the drivers joining these teams have plenty of open-wheel experience. Those hired thus far include John Andretti, Ed Carpenter, A.J. Foyt IV, Davey Hamilton, Bruno Junqueira, and Paul Tracy. These drivers have a combined 40 wins in major open-wheel racing, and many have been IRL and CART mainstays over the past decade.
Sarah Fisher Racing will have both of its cars participating in the 500-mile event, with Fisher and Jay Howard behind the wheel. Kansas will mark their respective season debuts, and it will serve as a tune-up for the month of May. Former IndyCar competitors Rahal Letterman Racing and Team 3G will also return for the 500, campaigning cars No. 17 and No. 98, respectively.
And finally, three Firestone Indy Lights Series teams will move up to attempt IndyCar's biggest race. Sam Schmidt Motorsports will return to the 500 with Townsend Bell, who finished fourth last year, and sponsor Herbalife. Bryan Herta Autosport will take Sebastien Saavedra to the big leagues with William Rast sponsorship on his No. 29 Dallara-Honda. Finally, AFS Racing will take a No. 27 car to the track, although whether it will be run as a sixth Andretti Autosport car or not remains to be seen. The two teams have partnered to take the last two Lights championships.
Just as interesting, however, are some of the teams not on the entry list. Hemelgarn Johnson Racing may end a streak of attempting to make every Indianap[olis 500 since the IRL began running it in 1996; their No. 91 is not on the entry list. There is also no second car for HVM Racing, which had previously looked to field two all season, or for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, which will focus on Hideki Mutoh's program.
Plenty of drivers are still looking to land a ride for the race, however. IndyCar participants from the past year that could make appearances include Richard Antinucci, Stanton Barrett, Ana Beatriz, Buddy Lazier, Jaques Lazier, Darren Manning, Kosuke Matsuura, Nelson Philippe, Graham Rahal, James Rossiter, Tomas Scheckter, Oriol Servia, Scott Sharp, and Roger Yasukawa.
Rahal will likely displace Servia at his father's team, while Antinucci will probably get the call for Team 3G. Scheckter brings sponsorship from Mona Vie again this year, while Beatriz' Brazilian-only deal could be extended to put her back in a DRR car. Beyond that, everything is simply guesswork.