Indy 500 Field 2014: Underrated Drivers Who Can Steal Show in Indianapolis

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistMay 25, 2014

Simon Pagenaud, of France, drives through the first turn on the first day of qualifications for Indianapolis 500 IndyCar auto race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Saturday, May 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Dave Parker)
AJ Mast/Associated Press

The Indy 500 can create a legend in a mere 200 laps.

While the 33 drivers set to partake in the 2014 edition of the epic event in Indianapolis compose what many hail as the deepest field in a long time, there are still underdogs in the running most have missed.

Let's take a look at a few drivers who have enough talent and little in the way of expectations holding them back on Sunday, a combo that could allow them to steal the milk by day's end.


Jack Hawksworth

Darron Cummings/Associated Press

An IndyCar rookie by the name of Kurt Busch is getting most of the attention for his attempt at a Memorial Day Double, but another rookie might just be more deserving.

Jack Hawksworth is a relative unknown set to make his Indy 500 debut, and his road leading up to the event has been rather encouraging.

Hawksworth led for 31 laps and finished seventh in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and was the top rookie in 500 qualifying outside of Busch.

Hired to drive for Bryan Herta about a month ago, the 23-year-old Hawksworth has shown an uncanny ability as of late and will start in a sound position in the 500 out of the No. 13 spot. Don't forget his name come Sunday.


Simon Pagenaud

Michael Conroy/Associated Press

One year removed from finishing eighth and a few years removed from having never raced on an oval, Simon Pagenaud is slowly, slowly becoming a household name.

A win on Sunday would sure solidify that status.

Pagenaud has plenty of recent momentum to ride on thanks to his victory at the IndyCar Grand Prix of Indianapolis, an event he says was important to win, as captured by Chris Jenkins of USA Today:

It's very important before going to the Indy 500. It's a good dynamic for the team, for myself, my confidence level. God knows how confident you have to be around here on an oval. I guess it's a good thing. Obviously I need time to understand what just happened and realize that I'm the man of the hour and thank my team by buying them a drink. But then (Sunday) we get back to work.

Pagenaud has seemed to improve each time out and sits in a good position on Sunday to start. Should that trend continue, he'll be drinking milk by the time the race is over.


Justin Wilson

AJ Mast/Associated Press

Like Pagenaud, Justin Wilson has seemed to improve each year he suits up for the Indy 500.

Last year, Wilson came in fifth while driving for Dale Coyne Racing after a seventh-place finish the year prior. It was the type of performance a budding driver like Wilson can build on and, in tandem with weightless expectations, shock more than a few people on Sunday.

Wilson will start 14th for the second consecutive year on Sunday, and even though he does not race for the big kids on the block that traditionally dominate the proceedings, he has a great chance at another top-10 finish.


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