104th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge Filled with Interesting Storylines

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020 – Selected storylines for the 104th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Practice opens Wednesday, Aug. 12, with Race Day on Sunday, Aug. 23.

  • New era: This will be the first Indianapolis 500 under the ownership of the Penske Corporation, led by iconic businessman and race team owner Roger Penske. Ownership of the fabled facility changed hands Jan. 6 when the Hulman-George family’s sale of the Speedway, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and IMS Productions to Penske became final. The Hulman-George family had owned IMS since November 1945.
  • Safety revolution: This will be the first year in which the new Aeroscreen will be used in the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. The Aeroscreen, mandatory on all NTT INDYCAR SERIES cars starting this season, offers a revolutionary new level of driver protection and creates a sleek, jet fighter look to the open-wheel cars. The Aeroscreen’s IMS competition debut took place July 4 during the GMR Grand Prix on the IMS road course, but this will be the first time the safety device will be used in the Indy 500. The IMS oval debut of the Aeroscreen continues the Speedway’s legacy of automotive safety and technology development that started with the first Indianapolis 500 in 1911.
  • More speed, drama in qualifying: Speed and drama should be on the rise during qualifications for the Indianapolis 500 on Saturday, Aug. 15 and Sunday, Aug. 16 due to technical and format changes. Turbocharger boost will be increased for qualifying, adding 45 horsepower to increase speeds.
  • Fernando is back: Two-time Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso is back at IMS in a bid to become just the second driver to win the “Triple Crown” of motorsports – victories in the Monaco Grand Prix, 24 Hours of Le Mans and Indianapolis 500. Alonso, from Spain, will drive for Arrow McLaren SP while attempting to make his second start in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” The motorsports world was shocked last season when Alonso was bumped from the starting field during the Last Row Shootout by driver Kyle Kaiser and upstart Juncos Racing. Can Alonso bounce back this year and make history by entering Victory Lane?
  • Team Penske three-peat?: Team Penske could make history with a third consecutive victory in this Indianapolis 500, a feat that’s only been achieved twice. Team Penske’s Will Power won in 2018 with teammate Simon Pagenaud triumphing in 2019. Team owner Lou Moore recorded three consecutive wins from 1947-49 with drivers Mauri Rose (1947-48) and Bill Holland (1949). Team Penske matched that mark from 2001-03, with Helio Castroneves (2001-02) and Gil de Ferran (2003).
  • Helio aims for No. 4: Helio Castroneves again will attempt to join one of the most exclusive clubs in global motorsports – four-time winners of the Indianapolis 500 – this year in a Team Penske car. Castroneves’ third win came in 2009, and his chances to join A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears as four-time winners are dwindling at age 45 as he edges closer toward the end of his illustrious career. Can he get win No. 4?
  • TK’s Last Lap continues: 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan will continue his final season of regular NTT INDYCAR SERIES competition in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” on Aug. 23, driving for A.J. Foyt Racing. Can Kanaan punctuate his final campaign, consisting of all of the oval races on the schedule, with an emotional victory at age 45?
  • Andretti adds more strength: The spotlight will be on 2019 rookie phenom Colton Herta, who won two NTT INDYCAR SERIES races last season, as he became the fifth full-time driver in the powerful Andretti Autosport stable this season. Herta brought many officials and crew members from the upstart Harding Steinbrenner Racing team of 2019, including that former team’s 23-year-old owner, George Steinbrenner IV, the grandson of late legendary New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. James Hinchcliffe, Indy’s pole winner in 2016, joins Andretti Autosport for the “500,” making it a six-car effort that includes 2014 “500” winner Ryan Hunter-Reay and 2016 “500” winner Alexander Rossi. Michael Andretti’s team has won the “500” with five different drivers since 2005.
  • Deep field: It can be argued that this is one of the deepest fields in event history as eight former “500” winners are entered, the most since 1992, when a record 10 entered. Former winners competing this year include Helio Castroneves (2001, 2002, 2009), Scott Dixon (2008), Tony Kanaan (2013), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2014), Alexander Rossi (2016), Takuma Sato (2017), Will Power (2018) and Simon Pagenaud (2019). Castroneves, Dixon, Kanaan and Pagenaud are among the drivers who have won poles for this race. The others are Ed Carpenter and James Hinchcliffe. Power has won 58 poles in his NTT INDYCAR SERIES career – second-most in series history behind Mario Andretti’s 67 – but the Aussie is seeking his first “500” pole.
  • Dixon off to a strong 2020: Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon won the first three NTT INDYCAR SERIES races of the season and enters the double-points-paying “500” atop the standings by 49 points over Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud. Dixon, who is bidding for his second Indy victory, has won 49 career races, which ranks third on the sport’s all-time list behind A.J. Foyt (67) and Mario Andretti (52). Dixon always seems to be in contention at IMS, winning three poles and finishing in the top six on nine occasions in 17 starts.
  • Intense rookie battle: Five rookies will compete for Rookie of the Year honors, with the past two Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires champions (Pato O’Ward and Oliver Askew) driving for the same team (Arrow McLaren SP). Rinus VeeKay (Ed Carpenter Racing), Alex Palou (Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh) and Dalton Kellett (A.J. Foyt Racing) are the other first-timers in this field.
  • How Swede it is: Felix Rosenqvist and Marcus Ericsson are not only teammates at Chip Ganassi Racing, they represent the best chance for a Swede to reach Victory Lane at IMS since Kenny Brack won in 1999. Rosenqvist earned his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES victory last month at Road America. Conor Daly, who will drive for Ed Carpenter Racing, is the best chance for an Indiana-born driver to win the “500.” The last was Wilbur Shaw in 1940.
  • Cole for Conor: Race engineer Cole Pearn, who led Martin Truex Jr. and Furniture Row Racing to the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series championship, has joined Ed Carpenter Racing to lead Conor Daly’s “500” program. The jump from stock cars to Indy cars is unusual but not without success. In 2015, Brian Campe helped Team Penske’s Juan Pablo Montoya win the “500.”
  • Golden year for Big Al: This is the 50th anniversary of Al Unser’s first of four Indianapolis 500 victories. Unser drove the iconic Johnny Lightning Special in 1970. He later won the “500” in 1971, 1978 and 1987.
  • Live Central Indiana broadcast part of NBC effort: NBC will broadcast the “500” for the second consecutive year with its talented team led by Mike Tirico. For the second time in five years, the broadcast will air live in Central Indiana, this time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The sold-out 2016 race was the first “500” to air live since portions of the race were in the late 1940s and early 1950s.