PRUETT: Bumping is back on the cards for the 2023 Indy 500

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It’s the start of November, which I readily admit is way too early to look at the entry list for May’s Indianapolis 500. But there’s a good reason for it, especially after last season’s painfully drawn-out efforts to find the 33rd and final entry that took five months and the combined efforts of four teams to make happen. Here we are, a little more than 200 days from the start of the Indy 500 and mercifully, it’s easy to find enough cars to fill the traditional 11 rows of three. And more. In what’s meant to be the final Indy 500 for the soon-to-be 12-year-old 2.2-liter twin-turbo V6 engines from Chevy and Honda, there’s also a strong prospect for the return of bumping as there are multiple avenues to have entry list to grow beyond 33. We can credit the Indy 500 entry list growth to a few teams, namely Arrow McLaren SP with its expansion to four cars, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s jump to four, and Juncos Hollinger Racing, which plans to go from one car to two for the season. If every single entry comes through, we could see 36, but since that never happens, I’d place a safer bet on 34-35 as being where the final entry list will end up, and that doesn’t require the summoning of hope and blind faith to become a reality. To start, A.J. Foyt Racing (2), Andretti Autosport (5), and Arrow McLaren SP (4) are set with their lineups. That’s one-third of the field. Chip Ganassi Racing (4) has three full-time drivers committed and should have its fourth identified in the coming weeks, and then we have DCR with Rick Ware/HMD (2). That gets us to 17 cars. Dreyer & Reinbold Racing will be back (2) and Ed Carpenter Racing (3) is preparing to run the same amount of cars as it did in 2022. JHR (2) and Meyer Shank Racing (2) are the last two-car operations on the list. That’s 26 cars. And the list closes with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (4) and Team Penske (3), which gets us to a strong 33. The entry list could also grow without much effort. Foyt team president Larry Foyt says his current plan is to run two cars, but as one of the only teams with all of the necessary equipment to field at least one or more extra entries, it’s easy to imagine a bidding war breaking out that would expand the team to at least three. If you aren’t signed to one of the first 33, there’s almost nowhere to go to try and get on the grid. Watch this space. CGR could become a five-car team again if Jimmie Johnson decides to take another crack at winning the 500. Whether it’s Foyt going to three or CGR going to five — or possibly both expanding — we would be at 34-35. And then we have Dale Coyne Racing. The team is tipped to go back to fielding three cars after running two last year. On its current course, Takuma Sato would move aside for a new full-time driver in the No. 51 car to become an oval-only pilot and fill the third seat for Indy. Assuming that gets solidified, there’s the 34th, 35th, or 36th entry, depending upon what happens with Foyt and CGR. Granted, I’m not sure Chevy or Honda would go out of their way to support a 35th or 36th unless it’s a really big name that will attract buyers to their respective showroom floors, but the potential exists. Based on the current projections with solid entries, Chevy is at 16 leases for Indy and Honda is at 17. If a third Foyt entry materializes, that would bring Chevy to 17. If CGR and DCR add theirs it would be 19 leases, which might be more than Honda Performance Development wants to support. Separate from those four, some other teams have been suggested as potentials to run another car. DRR owner Dennis Reinbold said he’s definitely sticking to two entries, and ECR general manager Tim Broyles says they are limited on staff to go beyond the three cars for his boss Ed Carpenter, Rinus VeeKay, and Conor Daly, which makes running a fourth unlikely. JHR has an abundance of Dallara DW12s sitting in its shop, but is holding firm to running two. Since the court-ordered return of his cars from Top Gun Racing happened earlier this year, Neil Enerson has received numerous inquiries about buying or leasing the unassembled spare and the primary chassis, which his son RC used to try and make the show in 2021 and raced later in the year on the IMS road course. Enerson says he has no plans to let the cars go and hopes to raise the budget to have a partner team run RC in one at some point in the near future. Elsewhere, it’s unclear if or where the Chevy-affiliated Paretta Autosport and driver Simona De Silvestro would find a seat for the 500. Owing to their relationship that began last season in a four-race road and street course program, ECR would be the natural fit, but if it doesn’t happen there, some creativity would be required to take part in the event. The one negative that’s hard to ignore is the further reduction of true Indy-only entrants. Outside of DRR, there are no known Indy-only teams which own a car and plan to run them at Indy. DragonSpeed, which ran its own car a few years ago and operated the Cusick Motorsports effort in May with a car supplied by Foyt, would need a car and a budget and a driver to give it another go. Cusick, independent of DragonSpeed and Foyt, is known to be working on another co-entry effort where  a team would provide a turnkey program for Stefan Wilson. So, that’s what we know as of October 31. Whether it’s 33, 34, 35, or 36, the farewell to IndyCar’s trusty old non-hybrid engine formula with a full grid and maybe a few more at the Speedway looks safe. 2023 Indianapolis 500 confirmed entries (33 total) A.J. Foyt Racing Santino Ferrucci Chevrolet A.J. Foyt Racing Benjamin Pedersen Chevrolet Andretti Autosport Colton Herta Honda Andretti Autosport Romain Grosjean Honda Andretti Autosport Devlin DeFrancesco Honda Andretti Autosport Kyle Kirkwood Honda Andretti Autosport Marco Andretti Honda Arrow McLaren SP Pato O’Ward Chevrolet Arrow McLaren SP Felix Rosenqvist Chevrolet Arrow McLaren SP Alexander Rossi Chevrolet Arrow McLaren SP Tony Kanaan Chevrolet Chip Ganassi Racing Scott Dixon Honda Chip Ganassi Racing Alex Palou Honda Chip Ganassi Racing Marcus Ericsson Honda Chip Ganassi Racing TBD Honda Dale Coyne Racing David Malukas Honda Dale Coyne Racing TBD Honda Dreyer & Reinbold Racing TBD Chevrolet Dreyer & Reinbold Racing TBD Chevrolet Ed Carpenter Racing Rinus Veekay Chevrolet Ed Carpenter Racing Conor Daly Chevrolet Ed Carpenter Racing Ed Carpenter Chevrolet Juncos Hollinger Racing Callum Ilott Chevrolet Juncos Hollinger Racing TBD Chevrolet Meyer Shank Racing Helio Castroneves Honda Meyer Shank Racing Simon Pagenaud Honda Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Graham Rahal Honda Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Christian Lundgaard Honda Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Jack Harvey Honda Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing TBD Honda Team Penske Will Power Chevrolet Team Penske Josef Newgarden Chevrolet Team Penske Scott McLaughlin Chevrolet Possible additional entries A.J. Foyt Racing TBD Chevrolet Chip Ganassi Racing TBD Honda Dale Coyne Racing TBD Honda

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