Profiles of the 33 drivers in today’s Indianapolis 500, in starting order with car number in parentheses, age, hometown, engine, race team, four-lap qualification average and biographical information (w-former winner; r-rookie; all chassis Dallara):
1. (2) Ryan Briscoe, 30, Sydney, Australia; Chevrolet, Team Penske, 226.484 mph. Won first pole of season by narrowest margin in 500 history — 9.168 inches. Has fared much better at odd-numbered races than even-numbered ones this season, finishing fifth, 14th, seventh and 25th. Has been among top six in points each of past four years but never won title. Career-best finish at Indy was fifth in 2007 driving for Roger Penske’s son, Jay. Best Indy finish since moving to better known Team Penske was 15th in 2009. Started 26th, finished 27th at Indy in 2012.
2. (27) James Hinchcliffe, 25, Toronto; Chevrolet, Andretti Autosport; 226.481. IndyCar’s reigning Rookie of Year replaced Danica Patrick at Andretti in January and is off to fast start. Finished fourth at St. Pete, sixth at Birmingham, third at Long Beach and sixth at Brazil despite leading only two total laps in those races. Third in points behind Penske’s power pack (Will Power and Helio Castroneves). Had seven top-10s last season including fourths at Long Beach, New Hampshire and Kentucky. Started 13th and finished 29th as Indy rookie. Worked as radio broadcaster for speedway’s network at 2010 Indy 500.
3. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, 31, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Chevrolet, Andretti Autosport; 226.240. Moved from back row to front row at Indy. Started in No. 41 car and from 33rd spot in last year’s Indy 500 after failing to qualify in his No. 28 car. Got into race when Michael Andretti and A.J. Foyt buried the family rivalry and cut deal to put Hunter-Reay in Foyt’s qualified car. IndyCar series Rookie of Year in 2007. Sixth-place finish at 2008 Indy earned him 500 Rookie of Year honors. Has five career wins and is one of three Americans to win IndyCar race since April 2008 (Marco Andretti, Iowa, 2011; Ed Carpenter, Kentucky, 2011). Hunter-Reay has won three races in that span including New Hampshire last year. Fourth in points after finishes of third, 12th, sixth and second in 2012.
4. (26) Marco Andretti, 24, Nazareth, Pa.; Chevrolet, Andretti Autosport; 225.456. Consistently been one of fastest cars on track in May. Hard-luck runner-up of 2006 Indy 500 still chasing family’s first win at Brickyard since grandfather, Mario, won in 1969. Father, Michael, has been to Indy’s victory lane twice as team owner with the late Dan Wheldon in 2005 and Dario Franchitti in 2007. Made last year’s race with gutsy four-lap qualifying run on last attempt of Bump Day, knocking out teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay. Has finished second, third and third in three even-year races at Indy (2006, 2008, 2010). Ended 77-race winless streak last year by winning at Iowa for second career IndyCar win.
5. (12) Will Power, 31, Toowoomba, Australia; Chevrolet, Team Penske; 225.422. Two-time series runner-up off to another strong start with wins at Birmingham, Long Beach and Brazil after seventh-place finish in opener at St. Pete. Usually stronger on road and street courses, winning 2010 and 2011 Mario Andretti Road Trophy, but showed improvement on ovals last season, including first career win at Texas. Won six times in 2011 and tied series single-season record for most poles (eight). Making fourth straight start from front three rows at Indy, but hasn’t finished higher than eighth.
6. (3) w-Helio Castroneves, 37, Sao Paulo, Brazil; Chevrolet, Team Penske; 225.172. One of series’ most popular drivers also has been one of most successful drivers in speedway history. Only foreign-born three-time 500 winner (2001, 2002 and 2009) and 2003 runner-up. Has nine top-10s in 11 career Indy starts. Tied with Rex Mays and A.J. Foyt for second-most career Indy poles (four), trailing only Rick Mears (six). Did not win race last season, first time that happened since 1999. Ended 18-race winless streak by taking season opener at St. Pete. Former “Dancing with the Stars” winner has won 19 races since moving to IndyCar in 2001 and is second in points in 2012, 45 behind teammate Will Power.
7. (67) r-Josef Newgarden, 21, Hendersonville, Tenn.; Honda, Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, 224.037. Primary driver for Fisher’s team and youngest starter at Indy. Won’t turn 22 until December. Finished all 190 laps of season’s first two races, finishing 11th and 17th. But after starting second at Long Beach, failed to complete any laps thanks to collision with four-time IndyCar winner Dario Franchitti. Finished 61 of 75 laps at Brazil before another crash forced him to settle for 23rd. Was 2011 Indy Lights champ after winning five of 14 races and finishing on podium 10 times. Also has raced in GP3, Formula Ford and Skip Barber National Series for Racer of Tomorrow LTD.
8. (11) Tony Kanaan, 37, Sao Paulo, Brazil; Chevrolet, KV Racing Technology, 224.751. Took original qualifying speed rather making complete attempt in last Saturday’s pole shootout. Driving in familiar No. 11 car this year and hoping it produces better results. Finished in top six in points every year since 2003 including 2004 when he completed every lap of every race and won series title. Has been unlucky at Indy with finishes of 28th, third, second, eighth, fifth, 12th, 29th, 27th, 11th and fourth. Won Indy pole in 2005. Only driver to lead laps in each of first seven starts at Indy. Completed ironman competition in Hawaii in October.
9. (5) E.J. Viso, 27, Caracas, Venezuela; Chevrolet, KV Racing Technology; 224.422. Like Kanaan, stood on original qualifying time without completing full four-lap attempt in Indy’s unique pole shootout for top nine cars. Only Venezuelan starting this year’s 500. Finished season-best eighth at St. Pete and has two top-10s this year (ninth at Brazil). Has two top-fives in 69 career IndyCar starts with career-best finish of third at Iowa in 2010. Was Formula One test driver in 2006. Competed in European GP 2 Series, winning twice. Making fourth career start at Brickyard. Previously, hadn’t qualified better than 18th and still hasn’t finished higher than 24th.
10. (8) r-Rubens Barrichello, 40, Sao Paulo, Brazil; Chevrolet, KV Racing Technology, 224.264. Second highest rookie qualifier in 33-car field behind Newgarden. Two-time Formula One runner-up. Made jump to IndyCar this season and has joined his pal, Kanaan, as teammate. Started record 322 F1 races, winning 11 times. Has eighth-highest points total in F1 history and is most popular driver in home country (Brazil). Americans remember him as man who let teammate Michael Schumacher move past him in final straightaway at 2002 Austrian Grand Prix, per team orders. One of seven drivers in field who have won at Indy — his win coming at 2002 U.S. Grand Prix with Ferrari.
11. (98) Alex Tagliani, 38, Lachenaie, Quebec, Canada; Honda, Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian; 224.000. Last year’s surprise pole winner returns in No. 98 car that won race with Wheldon last year and with team Wheldon drove for. Switched engines in April, giving up Lotus for Honda. Followed last year’s Indy success by taking pole at Texas last season. Had six top-10 finishes in 2011 including season-high fourth at Texas and Motegi. Has one career win in 176 career starts between Champ Car and IndyCar. Win came at Road America in 2004. Is 26th in points this year after finishing 15th last season.
12. (38) Graham Rahal, 23, New Albany, Ohio; Honda, Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing, 223.959. Son of 1986 race winner Bobby Rahal making fifth career start at Brickyard. Became youngest winner in IndyCar history (19 years, 93 days) when won IndyCar debut in 2008 at St. Pete. Hasn’t won in 49 races since that victory at St. Pete. Finished second in Brazil and third at Indy last year. Won two poles in 2009, none since. Qualified fourth and seventh for Indy in 2009 and 2010. Avid fan of hometown Buckeyes and NHL’s Blue Jackets. Restored 1964 Mini Cooper for senior project in high school.
13. (25) Ana Beatriz, 27, Sao Paulo, Brazil; Chevrolet, Andretti Autosport/Conquest Racing, 223.920. Made season debut with Michael Andretti’s team in her native Brazil and finished 20th after spending much of day in top 10. Will race again for Andretti at Indy. Highest qualifier of three women drivers in this year’s field. Spent 2008 and 2009 competing on Indy Lights circuit, becoming first woman to win in series — at Nashville in 2008. Won Indy Lights Rising Star Award in 2008. Finished fifth in South American Formula 3 points in 2006 and won three times in Brazilian Formula Renault Series from 2003-05.
14. (83) Charlie Kimball, 27, Camarillo, Calif.; Honda, Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing, 223.868. Last year, became first licensed diabetic driver to start 500. Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2007 and wears device that monitors blood-glucose level during races. Started 28th, finished 13th and became prominent part of finish when JR Hildebrand tried to avoid his slowing car in final turn of last lap, starting memorable crash. Best finish in rookie season: Ninth at New Hampshire. Matched that with ninth at season-opener in St. Pete. Coming off career-best eighth at Brazil. Son of former race-car design engineer.
15. (9) w-Scott Dixon, 31, Auckland, New Zealand; Honda, Target Chip Ganassi Racing; 223.684. Traditionally struggles early but started strong in 2012 with back-to-back runner-up finishes at St. Pete and Birmingham. Currently sixth in standings after finishing 23rd and 17th at last two races. Ganassi drivers have won last four points titles, would have been five if Dixon hadn’t run out of fuel on last turn of last lap of 2007 season finale. Two-time points champ (2003 and 2008). Only Indy 500 victory came from pole in 2008. Has six straight top-six finishes at Brickyard and 27 career wins in IndyCar and Champ Car.
16. (10) w-Dario Franchitti, 39, Edinburgh, Scotland; Honda, Target Chip Ganassi Racing; 223.582. Two-time Indy winner (2007 and 2010) and four-time series champ. Took third straight points title in 2011 after ending ill-fated NASCAR experiment in 2008. Slow start has him in 10th place this year. Won four times and claimed two poles in 2011, finishing in top five in 13 of 17 races. Has four career starts on Indy’s front row, all in No. 3 spot. Both Indy wins finished under caution. Trying to join Castroneves as only foreign-born drivers with three wins at Indy. Missed 2003 race after breaking back in motorcycle accident. Married to actress Ashley Judd.
17. (19) r-James Jakes, 24, Leeds, England; Honda, Dale Coyne Racing, 223.482. Made IndyCar debut last season with 16 starts and best finish of 13th at Motegi. Finished 15th in four of first seven races in series, but was bumped out of Indy’s starting field last season. Has finished 26th, 16th, 11th and 15th in first four races this season and No. 17 starting spot matches second-best qualification of season (14th at Long Beach, 17th at Brazil). One of four English drivers in race. Has competed in British Formula Renault, Formula 3 Euro, GP2 and GP3 series.
18. (4) JR Hildebrand, 24, Sausalito, Calif.; Chevrolet, Panther Racing; 223.422. Last year’s Indy 500 Rookie of the Year appeared headed toward win when disaster struck on final turn of last lap. Ended up in outside wall and No. 4 car skidded across finish line in second place, behind Wheldon. Would have been first American rookie to win race since Louis Meyer in 1928. Hildebrand was third driver to finish second at Indy for Panther Racing over past four years. Injured left knee two weeks after Indy crash during fitness promotion at Texas. Finished second in overall 2011 Rookie of the Year standings. Won 2009 Indy Lights title with four wins and five poles.
19. (15) Takuma Sato, 35, Tokyo; Honda, Rahal Letterman Lanigan; 223.392. Former Formula One driver jumped to IndyCar Series in 2010 and has started all 38 races since changing series. Finished 21st in points as rookie, 13th last season with three top-fives and seven top-10s. Won pole twice in three-race stretch in 2011 (Iowa and Edmonton). Now driving for 1986 Indy winner Bobby Rahal. Earned first career IndyCar podium appearance, finishing third in Brazil. Was second time this season he wasn’t knocked out with engine trouble. Career-best finish at Indy was third at F1’s 2004 U.S. Grand Prix.
20. (99) Townsend Bell, 37, San Luis Obispo, Calif.; Honda, Sam Schmidt Motorsports; 223.134. Makin his season debut at Indy for fourth consecutive year. Finished career-best fourth at Indy in 2009. Was 16th in 2010 and 26th last year. Indy Lights rookie of the year in 2000 and series champion in 2001. Drove in former CART series in 2002 and Formula 3000 in 2003 before joining IndyCar in 2004. Had three top-10 finishes in 2008.
21. (18) Justin Wilson, 33, Sheffield, England; Honda, Dale Coyne Racing; 222.929. English driver rejoined Dale Coyne’s team in offseason. Reunion has already produced two top-10s. Completed all but 11 laps in first four races. Got only IndyCar win in 2009 at Watkins Glen, driving for Dale Coyne, and has 19 top-10s since then. Making fifth career Indy start with career-best finish of seventh in 2010. At 6-foot-3½, is tallest driver in IndyCar Series. Younger brother, Stefan, spent last two years racing in Indy Lights developmental series.
22. (30) Michel Jourdain Jr., 35, Mexico City; Honda, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing; 222.893. Making first open-wheel start since 2004. In 1996, became youngest driver to start Champ Car race (19 years, six months and 12 days) in debut at Long Beach. Made 152 starts in the CART/Champ Car series between 1996 and 2004, winning twice in 2003 with Bobby Rahal’s team. Also started three IndyCar events during that time including 1996 Indianapolis 500, where he qualified eighth and finished 13th. Hasn’t driven at Indy since ‘96. Drove in NASCAR’s Nationwide Series from 2005-08 and NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series in 2006. Father also competed in CART and helped found a couple of dozen racing series in Mexico.
23. (77) r-Simon Pagenaud, 28, Poitiers, France; Honda, Schmidt-Hamilton Racing, 222.891. Fifth in points after surprisingly strong start. Finished sixth at St. Pete, fifth in Birmingham, second at Long Beach, best finish for Sam Schmidt’s team since merger with Champ Car. Was 12th in Brazil. Driving the No. 77 car that sat on pole in 2011. Finished second in last year’s 12 Hours of Sebring and Le Mans 24 Hours. Had six top-fives in 14 starts in only Champ Car season (2007) and was eighth in points that year.
24. (17) Sebastian Saavedra, 21, Bogota, Colombia; Chevrolet, AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport; 222.811. Second-youngest driver in race but not least experienced. Started 32nd at Indy two years ago and finished 23rd. Made 15 starts in 2011 with season-best 11th at Brazil. Indy Lights Rookie of Year in 2009, finishing third in points. Returned to Indy Lights Series this year and already has won two poles and finished third, first and second in first three races of season. Attempting to become first driver at Indy to win both May races — Freedom 100 and Indy 500 — in same weekend.
25. (7) Sebastien Bourdais, 33, Le Mans, France; Chevrolet, Dragon Racing; 223.760. Overcame stressful first week of waiting to cut deal for new engine to qualify for race. Making first Indy start since finishing 12th in 2005 when Newman-Haas Racing ran in only IndyCar of season. Had five top-10s in nine IndyCar starts last season, finishing sixth three times -- at Toronto, Edmonton and Motegi. Driving for Jay Penske this year. Won 31 of 73 races during five-year Champ Car career including titles each of last four years. Also has competed in F1 and SuperLeague Formula.
26. (41) r-Wade Cunningham, 27, Auckland, New Zealand; Honda, A.J. Foyt Enterprises, 223.258. Second Kiwi to qualify for this year’s race, joining Dixon. Made three IndyCar starts last year. Best finish: Seventh at Kentucky. Like Barrichello, has won at Brickyard, just not in 500. Is only three-time winner of Indy Lights’ Freedom 100 and became first two-time winner in 2009. Started only three races in IndyCar’s developmental series in 2010. Indy will be his season debut.
27. (22) Oriol Servia, 37, Pals, Spain; Chevrolet, Panther-Dreyer & Reinbold Racing; 222.393 mph. Teams merged before month of May, allowing Servia to swap struggling Lotus engine for one of the powerful Chevy engines. Qualified for race on Bump Day following crash on warm-up lap in qualifying on Pole Day. Qualified third, finished sixth and led 18 laps at Indy in 2011 -- all personal bests on 2.5-mile oval. Had 11 top-10s last season including season-opening streak of six straight. Won Indy Lights title in 1999. Was Champ Car runner-up in 2005. Made late switch to Dennis Reinbold’s team after Newman-Haas decided not to run full-time schedule in 2012. Father was two-time Spanish rally champ. Honoring Spanish artist Salvador Dali with special helmet design.
28. (20T) Ed Carpenter, 31, Indianapolis; Chevrolet, Ed Carpenter Racing; 222.324. Butler graduate and stepson of former speedway executive Tony George qualified in backup car last weekend after crashing hard during Pole Day attempt. Won first IndyCar race in October driving for fellow Butler alum Sarah Fisher. Made only 10 starts in 2011 with Fisher’s part-time team. Did not lead a lap in first five IndyCar seasons, but has led 63 over last four seasons. Has 29 top-10 finishes and one career pole in 117 IndyCar starts. Started eighth each of previous two years. Career-best finish on family’s track was eighth in 2009. Making ninth career start at Indy but first as owner-driver since starting own team last winter.
29. (14) Mike Conway, 29, Bromley, England; Honda, A.J. Foyt Enterprises; 222.319. After scary crash on final lap of 2010 race, missed rest of season with back injury and failed to qualify at Indy last year. Earned first IndyCar win at Long Beach in 2011, then finished sixth in next race at Brazil. Only had two more top-10s after Indy. Took over Foyt’s famed No. 14 car this season and has been solid. Qualified fourth at Birmingham and had season-best seventh at Alabama, one of two races he’s not had mechanical problems this year. Had qualified on Pole Day but was bumped near end of first segment and had to requalify on Bump Day.
30. (6) r-Katherine Legge, 31, Guildford, England; Chevrolet, Dragon Racing, 221.624mph. Like Bourdais, had a stressful first week as Jay Penske searched for new engine. Finally go Chevy in time for qualifications but has been focused on race set-up in practice. Was first woman to win major open-wheel race in North America, driving in Toyota Atlantics in 2005. Was first woman to compete in Champ Car. Following merger between Champ Car and IndyCar, returned to Europe as factory driver in DTM touring-car series. Had six top-10 finishes in 28 Champ Car starts from 2006-07.
31. (39) r-Bryan Clauson, 22, Noblesville, Ind.; Honda, Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing/Curb-Agajanian, 214.455. USAC star getting chance to test skills with more powerful cars. Was fast in practice but had rough start to qualifying, crashing on fourth and final lap of first attempt on Pole Day. Team rebuilt car overnight and Clauson requalified next day at much slower speed than he had been posting. Owns 55 career wins in other series including 23 in USAC, once key feeder program into IndyCar. Was Nationwide Series 2008 Rookie of Year runner-up after winning one pole and posting two top-10s. In 2006, became youngest driver to sweep USAC Midget/Sprint doubleheader and youngest USAC Sprint Car national feature winner.
32. (78) Simona de Silvestro, 23, Thun, Switzerland; Lotus, Lotus-HVM Racing; 214.393 mph. Is one of two Lotus drivers to make the starting field, but has been slow all month. Finally topped 210 mph when Indy gave engines a power boost. Qualified at substantially better four-lap average after making unapproved engine change last weekend, which will cost her 10 starting spots in IndyCar’s next race at Belle Isle, Mich. Became fan favorite at Indy last year with courageous qualifying run, driving with burned hands sustained in frightening, fiery practice crash two days earlier. Had career-best fourth at St. Pete in 2011 season-opener, had three top-10s and fastest lap in 2011 Brazil race. Hasn’t finished better than 20th this season. Was knocked out of two races with mechanical problems and in crash at Brazil. Second woman to win in Atlantics and five career wins are most by woman in Atlantics history.
33. (46) r-Jean Alesi, 47, Avignon, France; Lotus, Lotus-FP Journe-Fan Force United; 210.094. Oldest rookie in Indy history is trying to become first qualifier to win race from 33rd starting spot. Is almost 13 months older than previous record-holder (Jack Hewitt) for oldest rookie. Made 201 career starts in Formula One, earning two poles and 32 podium finishes, but did not drive on Brickyard’s historic 2.5-mile oval till this month. Competed in DTM touring car series from 2002-06 after retiring from F1, winning four times in five seasons. Competed in Speedcar stock car series in Middle East and Far East in 2008-09. Was second in Le Mans Series in 2010.