Indy 500 announcement sets up potential mark not seen in 13 years

The 108th running of the Indy 500 could have as many as 37 drivers attempting to qualify, which would be the largest total since 2011.
Marco Andretti, Andretti Global, IndyCar, Indy 500
Marco Andretti, Andretti Global, IndyCar, Indy 500 / Justin Casterline/GettyImages

Last week, Andretti Global formally confirmed the long expected fourth entry for 19-year IndyCar veteran Marco Andretti, the No. 98 Honda, for the 108th running of the Indy 500 this coming May.

With the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" now less than four months away, Andretti is one of 29 confirmed drivers on the entry list.

In addition to the 24 drivers who have been confirmed for the full 17-race schedule, there are four drivers confirmed for the 200-lap race around the four-turn, 2.5-mile (4.023-kilometer) Speedway, Indiana oval.

They include Ed Carpenter Racing rookie Christian Rasmussen, Ed Carpenter Racing team owner Ed Carpenter, McLaren-Hendrick rookie Kyle Larson, and Meyer Shank Racing's Helio Castroneves.

There are several other entries that have been all but confirmed. For example, Dale Coyne Racing have yet to fill their two full-time entries, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing intend to do what they usually do and run a two-car program for only the Indy 500, and R.C. Enerson has stated that he and Abel Motorsports plan to return for a second year in a row.

That alone brings the entry total to 34, thus ensuring bumping for the third Indy 500 in the last four years.

It has long been anticipated that Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing will field a fourth car for two-time Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato, who earned his second win with the team back in 2020, and it recently emerged that A.J. Foyt Enterprises could be looking to capitalize on newfound success at Indy and add a third car, potentially for J.R. Hildebrand.

From 2012 to 2023, the largest Indy 500 entry list featured 36 cars, that being for the 103rd running of the race back in 2019 when three drivers were left on the outside looking in. In some years, most recently 2022, the race was fortunate just to get to 33 cars. One car didn't even turn a qualifying attempt and got in.

According to IndyStar's Nathan Brown, this year's number could grow to 37, a territory not seen since 2011, as there is also a chance that Abel Motorsports could run a second car.

The 2011 entry list saw 42 cars, though that number was ultimately reduced to 41 by the time qualifying actually took place as a result of the withdrawal of China Racing. Eight drivers ended up failing to qualify for the race, including multiple full-time competitors.

As we have seen over the last few years, absolutely nobody is safe when it comes to qualifying for the Indy 500. Last year, there were 34 drivers going for 33 spots, and it was full-time driver, IndyCar veteran, and regular Indy 500 contender Graham Rahal who was left on the outside looking in (before being called upon as an injury replacement for Stefan Wilson).

Next. Indy 500: Kyle Larson's odds have already seen a significant shift. Indy 500: Kyle Larson's odds have already seen a significant shift. dark

Indy 500 qualifying is scheduled to take place on Saturday, May 18 and Sunday, May 19, and the 108th running of the race itself is scheduled to take place on Sunday, May 26, with NBC set to provide live coverage from Indianapolis Motor Speedway beginning at 11:00 a.m. ET. Be sure to take advantage of your free trial of FuboTV and don't miss it!