Alex Tagliani Will Race The Indianapolis 500

Richard DeveauCorrespondent IMay 4, 2009

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - APRIL 03: Alex Tagliani, driver of the #34 Rexall Edmonton Indy Conquest Racing Dallara Honda drives into turn two during practice for the IRL IndyCar Series Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on April 3, 2009 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

As the Indianapolis Motor Speedway prepares for the month of May activities, the Indianapolis 500 entry list becomes clearer.

Alex Tagliani will drive the No. 34 Dallara Honda, one of Conquest Racing's two entries. The Rexall Edmonton Indy event in July will hop on board as primary sponsor with secondary sponsorship from the Children's Museum of Indianapolis.

"It's every driver's dream to be at the Indianapolis 500," said the 36-year-old Canadian from the province of Québec. "As a kid, I never thought I would make it here and even later on in my career because of the split, so it has always remained a dream of mine. It's the one race that has always sat atop my list.

"Finally, more than nine years after my first start in a major open-wheel series race, I will get to experience all that surrounds the famous Month of May and get to experience it during the kickoff of the Centennial Era Celebrations, which makes it even more memorable."

Tagliani will be the fourth Québec-born driver to start the Indianapolis 500 and the first since Jacques Villeneuve, who won the event in 1995.

"No matter how much experience you have behind the wheel, when you race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time I think it's easy to feel like a rookie," Tagliani said. "It's such a unique track, there's nothing else like it."

The French Canadian driver joined the Conquest Racing operation in 2008, replacing Enrique Bernoldi in the final two races in Detroit and Chicagoland. He really impressed the team in Australia, finishing third in the exhibition race.

Tagliani ran the first two races of the 2009 season for Conquest Racing, at St. Petersburg and Long Beach, finishing 10th at both.

The No. 36 Conquest Racing entry is still vacant, and we await the announcement of who will be driving it. This is just a rumour, but some people believe it will be American Buddy Rice.

Rice was supposedly hired by Rubicon Racing, a team that ended up never showing at the track. But Rubicon Racing has become partners with Conquest this year, which is where the Buddy Rice rumour comes from.

Tagliani's first time on track will be May 5 for rookie orientation.