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Why You Should Root For Every Driver In The Indianapolis 500

The field of 33 drivers for this Sunday’s 97th running of the Indianapolis 500. While there are some familiar names and some new faces, there’s a good reason to root for each of the 33 drivers in this year’s field.

1. Ed Carpenter

AJ Mast / AP

CAR NUMBER: 20
TEAM: Ed Carpenter Racing
COUNTRY: USA
WHY SHOULD YOU ROOT FOR HIM: Ed Carpenter is an owner/driver, running his own small one car team. Amazingly, he defeated the much better funded Andretti and Penske teams to take the pole position for the race. He graduated from Butler University, who knows a few things about pulling major upsets. Oh, and he’s sponsored by a Vodka company. No word yet if he will turn the celebratory milk into a White Russian if he wins.
VEGAS ODDS: 7-to-1

2. Carlos Muñoz (R)

Larry Papke / Reuters

CAR NUMBER: 26
TEAM: Andretti Autosport
COUNTRY: Columbia
WHY SHOULD YOU ROOT FOR HIM: Carlos Muñoz is the highest qualifying rookie since fellow Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya started second in 2000. Muñoz is the only Firestone Indy Lights full time driver in the field, and the 21 year old has been racing since he was 10.
VEGAS ODDS: 20-to-1

3. Marco Andretti

John Sommers Ii / Reuters

CAR NUMBER: 25
TEAM: Andretti Autosport
COUNTRY: USA
WHY SHOULD YOU ROOT FOR HIM: Marco Andretti is having a career year early in the IndyCar season, sitting second in points. While he hasn’t won a race this season, he has a pair of podium finishes. He entered the season with a focus and consistency that he’s never before shown in IndyCars. Andretti has always been fast at Indianapolis, finish second in his first 500 in 2005, and finishing third two other times. Much like his father, despite consistently performing at Indianapolis, he hasn’t been able to escape the so-called “Andretti curse”.
VEGAS ODDS: 7-to-1

4. E.J. Viso

Tony Walton / Reuters

CAR NUMBER: 5
TEAM: Andretti Autosport
COUNTRY: Venezuela
WHY SHOULD YOU ROOT FOR HIM: While he has regularly shown flashes of speed, Viso has earned a reputation for crashing and tearing up equipment. After spending three years with KV Racing, Viso moved to Andretti Autosport, where his consistency has improved and he has shown more patience and comfort in the car. Viso has historically struggled at Indianapolis, failing to finish the 500 mile race several times.
VEGAS ODDS: 20-to-1

5. A.J. Allmendinger (R)

Darron Cummings, File / AP

CAR NUMBER: 2
TEAM: Team Penske
COUNTRY: USA
WHY SHOULD YOU ROOT FOR HIM: Allmendinger has become better known from his off-track antics over the last year than his performance on the track. Banned from NASCAR for failing a drug test, Allmendinger fought to get reinstated but lost his ride and sponsors wanted nothing to do with him. Roger Penske gave him a second chance—in IndyCars where he started his career. Now Allmendinger will race for the first time in the Indianapolis 500, a track dominated in the past by A.J. Foyt, whom he was named after.
VEGAS ODDS: 12-to-1

6. Will Power

Michael Conroy / AP

CAR NUMBER: 12
TEAM: Team Penske
COUNTRY: Australia
WHY SHOULD YOU ROOT FOR HIM: Aside from having the best name in sports? Despite being one of the most dominant drivers in IndyCar over the past few years, it has been over one year since Power last won a race. Power, a road and street course specialist, has struggled some at Indianapolis in the past, and has been stung by bad luck so far this season, which has relegated him deep in the points. A victory for Power could reignite his season and make the points race for IndyCars much more interesting. Also, he once gave the double middle finger to race officials on live TV once, if that’s your cup of tea.
VEGAS ODDS: 12-to-1

7. Ryan Hunter-Reay

AJ Mast / AP

CAR NUMBER: 1
TEAM: Andretti Autosport
COUNTRY: USA
WHY SHOULD YOU ROOT FOR HIM: The 2012 series champion is the first American champion of IndyCar since 2006, and the first driver to use the No. 1 (which is reserved for defending series champions) since 2006 to race the No. 1 car in the Indianapolis 500. He has historically struggled at Indianapolis, failing to qualify in 2011 and holding only one top 10 finish at the speedway.
VEGAS ODDS: 10-to-1

8. Hélio Castroneves

Brent Smith / Reuters

CAR NUMBER: 3
TEAM: Team Penske
COUNTRY: Brazil
WHY SHOULD YOU ROOT FOR HIM: He’s a former Dancing With the Stars champion, back when the show wasn’t a ratings disaster. He’s won the race three times before, and would become the first foreign-born four time champion at Indianapolis. His energetic personality and milk showers have brought attention to the sport since he first raced the track in 2001.
VEGAS ODDS: 7-to-1

9. James Hinchcliffe

Brent Smith / Reuters

CAR NUMBER: 27
TEAM: Andretti Autosport
COUNTRY: Canada
WHY SHOULD YOU ROOT FOR HIM: He was featured in the only GoDaddy ad in recorded history that doesn’t require the viewer to shower after watching.
VEGAS ODDS: 8-to-1

10. J.R. Hildebrand

Michael Hickey / Getty Images

CAR NUMBER: 4
TEAM: Panther Racing
COUNTRY: USA
WHY SHOULD YOU ROOT FOR HIM: In 2011, Hildebrand wrecked on the final corner of the racetrack while leading, allowing Dan Wheldon to steal the victory. Since then, Hildebrand has shown flashes of brilliance, but has struggled overall at the series. Still, Indianapolis remains his best track, and he has Superman along for the ride this year.
VEGAS ODDS: 40-to-1

11. Alex Tagliani

Tom Strattman / AP

CAR NUMBER: 98
TEAM: Barracuda Racing
COUNTRY: Canada
WHY SHOULD YOU ROOT FOR HIM: Tagliani is a longtime IndyCar driver, surviving due to his consistency as opposed to his outright speed. He has regularly finished around 10th place at Indianapolis, but has never seriously contended for the win, despite grabbing the pole in 2011. His team were the last true underdogs to win the Indianapolis 500, taking the 2011 race with Dan Wheldon.
VEGAS ODDS: 50-to-1

12. Tony Kanaan

Jamie Squire / Getty Images

CAR NUMBER: 11
TEAM: KV Racing
COUNTRY: Brazil
WHY SHOULD YOU ROOT FOR HIM: No one in the field would be a more popular winner than Tony Kanaan. Kanaan has dominated Indianapolis during his tenure in IndyCars, becoming the only driver in history to lead a lap during his first seven starts at the speedway. His daring moves on starts and restarts combined with his outgoing personality have endeared him to fans, but his love and respect for Indianapolis has earned him a special place in the hearts of many fans. If he is able to take the lead late this Sunday, expect the crowd to erupt in cheers.
VEGAS ODDS: 15-to-1

13. Oriol Servià

AJ Mast / AP

CAR NUMBER: 22
TEAM: Panther DRR
COUNTRY: Spain
WHY SHOULD YOU ROOT FOR HIM: His team is planning to shut down following the Indianapolis 500, and a victory or even a top five finish would go a long way to keeping the talented Spaniard running the series.
VEGAS ODDS: 30-to-1

14. Justin Wilson

Brent Smith / Reuters

CAR NUMBER: 19
TEAM: Dale Coyne Racing
COUNTRY: Great Britain
WHY SHOULD YOU ROOT FOR HIM: No one has done more with less over the last year and a half than Justin Wilson. Driving for the underfunded Dale Coyne racing, Wilson currently sits seventh in points and won a race at Texas Motor Speedway last year. During Wilson’s short, single season Formula 1 career, his only career point came at the 2003 U.S. Grand Prix, held in Indianapolis.
VEGAS ODDS: 40-to-1

15. Sebastien Bourdais

Steve Baker / Reuters

CAR NUMBER: 7
TEAM: Dragon Racing
COUNTRY: France
WHY SHOULD YOU ROOT FOR HIM: The four time Champ Car Champion has struggled since returning to IndyCars in 2010 after a brief Formula 1 career. While he dominated the final seasons of ChampCar, he has so far been unable to turn that into success in IndyCar, without a single podium finish since the unification of Champ Car and IndyCar. A strong run in Indianapolis could reignite his career. Also, his car looks pretty amazing.
VEGAS ODDS: 100-to-1

16. Scott Dixon

Jamie Squire / Getty Images

CAR NUMBER: 9
TEAM: Target Chip Ganassi Racing
COUNTRY: New Zealand
WHY SHOULD YOU ROOT FOR HIM: Scott Dixon is only 32, yet he’s already one of IndyCar’s most accomplished drivers with two IndyCar titles and an Indianapolis 500 victory. He will be making his 11th start this year, all of them for Chip Ganassi. He has a streak of top ten finishes at Indianapolis dating back to 2006, and has been the most consistent finisher at Indianapolis in the last decade.
VEGAS ODDS: 7-to-1

17. Dario Franchitti

Jamie Squire / Getty Images

CAR NUMBER: 10
TEAM: Target Chip Ganassi Racing
COUNTRY: Scotland
WHY SHOULD YOU ROOT FOR HIM: While he no longer has Ashley Judd by his side (the couple broke up last year), Franchitti is looking to become the fastest driver to reach four career Indianapolis 500 victories in history. He would also become the first foreign born driver to secure four victories were he able. His team has struggled some with speed this year, but he still expects to be a factor on race day.
VEGAS ODDS: 8-to-1

18. Takuma Sato

Darron Cummings / AP

CAR NUMBER: 14
TEAM: A.J. Foyt Enterprises
COUNTRY: Japan
WHY SHOULD YOU ROOT FOR HIM: Takuma Sato nearly won the 2012 Indianapolis 500 before he crashed on a daring last lap pass attempt on race leader Dario Franchitti. While he crashed, he caught the attention of A.J. Foyt, who signed him to drive during the off season. The duo clicked almost instantly, sharing a hard-charging spirit. Sato earned his first career victory earlier this season, and entered Indianapolis with the points lead and as the hottest driver in IndyCars.
VEGAS ODDS: 30-to-1

19. Charlie Kimball

Jamie Squire / Getty Images

CAR NUMBER: 83
TEAM: Chip Ganassi Racing
COUNTRY: USA
WHY SHOULD YOU ROOT FOR HIM: Charlie Kimball was almost forced to give up his dream of auto racing in 2007, when he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. He would eventually return to the sport, eventually working his way to IndyCars where he became the first licensed IndyCar driver in history to be diagnosed with diabetes. He convinced Nova Nordisk, who supplies his insulin, to sponsor his car. He also regularly works with young fans who are diagnosed with diabetes. Kimball has been improving as a driver over the last year, starting to consistently finish well.
VEGAS ODDS: 100-to-1

20. James Jakes

AJ Mast / AP

CAR NUMBER: 16
TEAM: Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
COUNTRY: Great Britain
WHY SHOULD YOU ROOT FOR HIM: His team is co-owned by David Letterman.
VEGAS ODDS: 100-to-1

21. Simon Pagenaud

Geoff Miller / Reuters

CAR NUMBER: 77
TEAM: Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports
COUNTRY: France
WHY SHOULD YOU ROOT FOR HIM: He can do a flawless impression of Jean Girard, Sasha Baron Cohen’s character in Talladega Nights.
VEGAS ODDS: 60-to-1

22. Townsend Bell

Tom Strattman / AP

CAR NUMBER: 60
TEAM: Panther Racing
COUNTRY: USA
WHY SHOULD YOU ROOT FOR HIM: Townsend Bell serves as a broadcaster for the NBC Sports Network and races one time a year—the Indianapolis 500. He is co-sponsored by Sunoco, which has a historical presence at the speedway, and Turbo, a movie due out later this summer about a snail who dreams of racing in the Indy 500. Also, he wore that hat all weekend during qualifying.
VEGAS ODDS: 100-to-1

23. Ryan Briscoe

Jamie Squire / Getty Images

CAR NUMBER: 8
TEAM: Chip Ganassi Racing
COUNTRY: Australia
WHY SHOULD YOU ROOT FOR HIM: After being released by Team Penske after last season, Briscoe returned to Chip Ganassi racing for a one off deal for the Indianapolis 500. Despite finishing in the top six in points each of the last six years and amassing eight wins, Briscoe has been unable to secure full employment in the IndyCar series, but a 500 victory would go a long way to advancing his cause.
VEGAS ODDS: 20-to-1

24. Simona de Silvestro

Brent Smith / Reuters

CAR NUMBER: 78
TEAM: KV Racing
COUNTRY: Switzerland
WHY SHOULD YOU ROOT FOR HER: She’s tough. After suffering massive burns to her hands in a wreck at Texas in 2010, she raced the rest of the season with bandages wrapped around her hands. She sacrificed her entire 2012 season to the underpowered Lotus engine, the only team to run the engine for the entire season, delaying her improvement in the series. This year she has a Chevy engine and has shown speed, posting three top 10 finishes in four races. Of the four women in the field, Simona has the best chance to win. Also, guys, teammate Tony Kanaan is trying to find her a boyfriend.
VEGAS ODDS: 100-to-1

25. Josef Newgarden

Brent Smith / Reuters

CAR NUMBER: 21
TEAM: Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing
COUNTRY: USA
WHY SHOULD YOU ROOT FOR HIM: The young American who dominated the 2011 Indy Lights series has shown speed throughout his short career, but this year he’s started getting finishes to match those speeds, with his first career top five in Brazil to start the month (a race where he competed for the lead late). His outgoing personality and charm have already made him a favorite among fans.
VEGAS ODDS: 100-to-1

26. Graham Rahal

Michael Conroy / AP

CAR NUMBER: 15
TEAM: Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
COUNTRY: USA
WHY SHOULD YOU ROOT FOR HIM: The son of 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal, Graham had avoided driving for his father before this season, preferring to make it on his own. Prior to this season, his only race for his father’s team was the 2010 Indianapolis 500, where he finished 12th in a one race deal. He left one of the top teams—Chip Ganassi Racing—to race for his father this season.
VEGAS ODDS: 50-to-1

27. Sebastián Saavedra

Brent Smith / Reuters

CAR NUMBER: 6
TEAM: Dragon Racing
COUNTRY: Columbia
WHY SHOULD YOU ROOT FOR HIM: At Indianapolis, you anticiapte any one of 100 things going wrong with the car and creating problems. One thing you probably don’t expect is the paint on your car to start flying off during the middle of practice. But that happened to Saavedra—twice—before IndyCar ordered them not to use blue chrome on any future runs.
VEGAS ODDS: Not listed (Field 40-to-1)

28. Tristan Vautier (R)

AJ Mast / AP

CAR NUMBER: 55
TEAM: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
COUNTRY: France
WHY SHOULD YOU ROOT FOR HIM: The young Frenchman is the first driver to move up using two rungs of the Road to Indy series, dominating both the Star Mazda series and the Indy Lights. He’s already shown quite a lot of speed in his rookie season with Sam Schmidt, and he has a faster car than his qualifying position suggests.
VEGAS ODDS: Not listed (Field 40-to-1)

29. Ana Beatriz

Steve Baker / Reuters

CAR NUMBER: 18
TEAM: Dale Coyne Racing
COUNTRY: Brazil
WHY SHOULD YOU ROOT FOR HER: Beatriz is one of the most accomplished female drivers in open wheel racing, winning two Indy Lights races and a karting title in her home country of Brazil. Beatriz has been in and out of IndyCars since moving up to the series in 2010. A strong performance at Indy would do wonders to improving her stature in the series.
VEGAS ODDS: Not listed (Field 40:1)

30. Pippa Mann

Brent Smith / Reuters

CAR NUMBER: 63
TEAM: Dale Coyne Racing
COUNTRY: England
WHY SHOULD YOU ROOT FOR HER: While several IndyCar drivers are connected via social media, Mann’s return to the Indianapolis 500 was practically reliant on it. She has managed to build up a loyal fanbase despite not being in an IndyCar since 2011. While she was close to putting together a deal to race in 2012, she succeeded in 2013 and will be making her second start at Indianapolis.
VEGAS ODDS: Not listed. (Field 40-to-1)

31. Conor Daly (R)

Darron Cummings / AP

CAR NUMBER: 41
TEAM: A.J. Foyt Racing
COUNTRY: USA
WHY SHOULD YOU ROOT FOR HIM: The rookie is the son of former F1 racer Derek Daly, who has also spent several years broadcasting IndyCar races. He got the ride in the Indianapolis 500 after impressing A.J. Foyt in a pre-season test session.
VEGAS ODDS: 300-to-1

32. Buddy Lazier

AJ Mast / AP

CAR NUMBER: 91
TEAM: Lazier Partners Racing
COUNTRY: USA
WHY SHOULD YOU ROOT FOR HIM: The 1996 Indy 500 winner has always been a fan favorite, and his performed extremely well at Indianapolis over the years. Despite not racing an IndyCar since 2009 (and never in the DW12 chassis) Lazier topped 226 miles per hour in practice with less than 40 hot laps on the car and put himself into the race in a car purchased by his family.
VEGAS ODDS: Not listed (Field 40-to-1)

33. Katherine Legge

Darron Cummings / AP

CAR NUMBER: 81
TEAM: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
COUNTRY: Great Britain
WHY SHOULD YOU ROOT FOR HER: Legge was dropped by Dragon Racing close to the start of the 2013 season, leaving her with little time to put together a deal to run the 2013 season. She was able to put together a last minute deal to run with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, but only for the final day of qualifications. With limited time in the car she put together four laps that were fast enough to get her the final spot in the field of 33.
VEGAS ODDS: Not Listed (Field 40-to-1)

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