On Tuesday, Open-Wheels Motorsports Sanctioning released the official starting lineup ahead of the second annual Open-Wheels 500 presented by Mitchell Transmissions (Sunday, 11:30 AM ET on RaceSpot TV).
Pit Lane Parley Pole Award winner and defending race winner Michele Costantini will lead the field to green. The Italian driver set a new four-lap track record during qualifications at 231.392 miles per hour, smashing last year’s record set by Yang Ou at 229.925 mph.
Joining Costantini on the front row will be Brazilian driver Wilson Neto – the man who qualified second overall in 2019, and is again starting in the middle of the front row in 2020 – as well as New Jersey’s Christopher Demeritt, a multiple-champion in the iRacing Indianapolis 500’s top split.
All drivers in the front row are representing Honda for the 2020 Open-Wheels 500.
In total, there are 12 former winners of a major iRacing Indianapolis 500 event in this year’s field – last year’s race had seven – and a new high water mark for rookies with a number of 11. In a notable coincidence, two Open-Wheels 500 rookies in the field are also former iRacing Indy 500 winners – Jason Brophy and Andrew Kinsella.
Drivers who made the field in 2020 after missing the mark in 2019 include Chad Simpson, Matt Hollibaugh, Niall McBride, and Oliver Silva.
Continuing as one of the most diverse events in sim racing, the field of competitors features 16 drivers from the United States, followed by six representing the UK & Ireland club, then five from Scandinavia. Other countries represented include Canada (3), Brazil (2), and Italy (1).
22 of the 33 starters in this year’s field are returning after making the race in 2019, including last year’s pole sitter in Ou. After struggling through qualifications weekend, Ou turned in a terrific late-afternoon run on Sunday to lock himself into the field at 230.830 miles per hour.
The average speed of the 2020 field reached 230.941 miles per hour – meaning the entire field was more than one mile per hour quicker on their qualifications attempt this fall than Ou’s previous pole speed of 229.925 mph last year.
Across the 33 starters, the fastest (Costantini) and slowest (Silva) qualifiers were separated by only 0.497 seconds across their 10-mile qualifications attempt – just about how long it takes to blink your eye.
The only independent driver to make the 2020 field was Dylan Freckelton – the British driver who made the race in 2019, only to see his chances dissolve on the pacing laps with mechanical issues. He will be hoping for better luck this fall, starting from 32nd.
Alternates for the 2020 Open-Wheels 500 presented by Mitchell Transmissions include Randolph Chenowth, Rob Powers and Brian Barney.
Race day coverage of the 2020 Open-Wheels 500 presented by Mitchell Transmissions will begin with the pre-race show on Today at the 500 from 9:00 to 11:00 AM Eastern. The live, worldwide race broadcast will begin on RaceSpot TV at 11:30 AM Eastern. You can find continued coverage of the race in the buildup to race weekend here on Open-Wheels.com.