The Rookie Class of the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500

INDIANAPOLIS -RIS- (May 24, 2019)  This year's Indianapolis 500 field will include six rookies in the field of 33, most of them coming from European road racing series. The most-promising of all of them is an American - Colton Herta, son of former Indy car driver and Indy 500-winning team owner, Bryan Herta.

Two Americans, two Swedes, two Brits - all of whom hope to possess the Right Stuff to win the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.

Colton Herta  
Valencia, California
#88 Harding Steinbrenner Racing (Honda) - Qualified 5th at 229.086 mph
Son of former Indy car driver Bryan Herta, Colton has made a thunderous introduction to IndyCar. A former Indy Lights driver, second in the 2018 championship and winner of the Indy double - both the IMS road course and Freedom 100 oval races - Herta made his Indy car debut at Sonoma last year, finishing 20th. He was co-driver in the winning GTLM class at the Rolex 24 at Daytona this year, and became the youngest IndyCar race winner in history with his victory earlier this season at the Circuit of the Americas. He climbed the ladder to Indy cars through USF2000, British Formula 3 and 4, and the Euroformula Open Championship.

Marcus Ericsson
Kumla, Sweden
#7 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Mtrsprts (Honda) - Qualified 13th at 228.511 mph
Veteran of Formula One’s Alfa-Romeo Sauber program, Ericsson finished 17th in the 2018 World Driving Championship, with best F1 finishes at Bahrain, Hockenheim, and Mexico City. Prior to his Alfa-Sauber experience, he entered F1 with the Caterham F1 program, rising from GP2 and the Japanese F3 Championship.

Santino Ferrucci
Woodbury, Connecticut
#19 Cly-Del Manufacturing (Honda)- Qualified 23rd at 227.731 mph
Italian by name, 100% American by birth and nature. He has as diverse a career pre-Indy as any driver you’re likely to find. Starting like many drivers in karting, he moved up to Formula 2000, Skip Barber, and both British and European Formula 3. He joined the DAMS GP3 in 2016, and was hired as a development driver for the American Haas F1 program - the first American driver for an American F1 program since 2017. Still testing with Haas F1, Ferrucci competed in FIA Formula 2 last year, moving up to test Indy cars at Sonoma and Texas.

Jordan King
Warwick, England
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (Honda) - Qualified 26th at 227.502 mph
No stranger to IndyCar, King competed in 11 IndyCar Series events last year, his best start in his ICS debut at St. Pete (4th) and best finish at Toronto (11th). Nevertheless, he’s a rookie here at Indianapolis with Rahal Letterman Lanigan. Earning his stripes in Formula Renault and the British Formula 3 series (in which he was 2013 champion, he served as a development driver for the Manor Marussia F1 program and drove the Carlin entry in the FIA Formula 3 European championship. He graduated to GP2 (now the FIA Formula 2 European championship) before coming to IndyCar in 2018.

Ben Hanley
Manchester, England
#81 10 Star DragonSpeed (Chevrolet) - Qualified 27th at 227.482 mph
Hanley’s relationship with DragonSpeed goes back to his LMP and LMP2 sports car days. In 2016, he finished 4th in LMP2 with DragonSpeed in the European LeMans Series. A year later, he finished 11th in the series with poles at Silverstone and Spa, and a best finish of second at Monza. Last year, still with DragonSpeed, Hanley drove LMP in the World Endurance Championship, with a best finish of fourth at Silverstone, and a best finish in the European Le Mans Series LMP2 division of second at Silverstone and Spa. He finished third earlier this year in the LMP2 class at the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Felix Rosenqvist
Varnamo, Sweden
#10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing (Honda) - Qualified 29th at 227.297 mph
Ganassi Racing is adept at finding new talent. With their second driver in 2018, Ed Jones moving over to Ed Carpenter Racing this year, Ganassi and team manager Mike Hull pulled the switch and elected this veteran of FIA Formula E (two wins and three poles) and Japanese Super GT to fill the seat in the #10 Ganassi IndyCar. Following three Indy Lights wins in 2016, Rosenqvist moved to FIA Formula E, emerging as top rookie in 2017. Like many of his fellow rookies this year, Rosenqvist is a veteran of Formula Renault and the European Formula 3 Championship.

Tom Beeler

Tom has been a contributor to RIS since 1992, and has covered IndyCar, Formula 1, NASCAR, Grand-Am, ALMS and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In addition to his RIS work, Tom has been a contributor for General Motors, Nissan, Toyota and the ACO.

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Volume 2019, Issue 5, Posted 5:16 PM, 05.24.2019