It’s May, folks, which means that the IZOD IndyCar Series gets to take center stage as they prepare for the Indianapolis 500. The Indianapolis 500 never lacks for storylines, but the one garnering the most attention is the journey to fill the field to the traditional 33 starting cars. As of May 1, there are only 31 cars on the entry list which has not yet been released to public record. The scramble for enough funding to fill the field is in high gear as the likes of Townsend Bell, Buddy Rice, Buddy and Jacques Lazier, and Jay Howard comb through their options to try and acquire sponsorship to run the 97th edition of the Memorial Day weekend classic.
While people may fret about the possibility of less than 33 starting cars, it would be well advised to sit tight and be patient. Essentially, there were only 31 cars to start the race as the two Lotus powered cars lasted less than ten laps as minimum pace could not be found. The 2012 race was, possibly, the best Indianapolis 500 mile race in history with over thirty lead changes and a last lap gasp by Takuma Sato. Very few remember that the starting grid just barely got to the full field cutoff. Rather, the show that the race brought was one of the highlights of the 2012 IndyCar season.
The Indianapolis 500 is filled with an abundance of traditions with the field of 33 being a very small piece of the race’s tradition. The 500 is known for its strategy, unpredictability, and drama; none of which would be hindered by a short field. The strength of the IZOD IndyCar Series has been the ridiculous depth of talent through the field on any given weekend. Through the first four races, the series has fielded 26 full-time cars which is typical of an IndyCar field but the 2012 grids have atypical talent in them. The IZOD IndyCar Series is the ONLY series in top level motorsports where anybody that starts the race has an opportunity to pull into Victory Lane and expect the Indianapolis 500 to be no different.
It is likely that INDYCAR will find a way to grid 33 cars at the Indianapolis 500, but even if the journey to 33 is rendered incomplete it will not detract from the on-track product on May 26 when drivers and teams embark on the 500 mile journey to the Borg Warner trophy. The race will be crazy and one of the best watches in sports in 2013 regardless of whether the tradition of 33 starters is realized.