until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Full Indy 500 entry list as Ilott announced in fourth McLaren

by Jack Benyon
5 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Callum Ilott will race for Arrow McLaren in this year’s Indianapolis 500, marking his third start in the race.

His participation completes a 34-car entry for IndyCar's centrepiece race, with one of those to be bumped from the field in qualifying.

With David Malukas dropped by the team without a single race start following a pre-season injury, McLaren moved quickly to secure Ilott, who raced in place of Malukas at St Petersburg and the Thermal Club non-points race.

McLaren has confirmed that reigning F2 champion Theo Pourchaire will complete the rest of the IndyCar season in the ex-Malukas car Ilott will race at the Indy 500.

“It is any driver’s dream to race in the Indianapolis 500, and I’d like to extend a thank you to Zak [Brown], Gavin [Ward] and Tony [Kanaan] for making this happen,” said Ilott, who drove the #6 car in the Indy 500 open test last month.

“I’m grateful to step into this race with a familiar car and a familiar team now in Arrow McLaren.

“While our April open test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was shortened by weather, the runs we did have were productive. I feel comfortable with the team and know that we can come together throughout the Month of May to put our best foot forward come race day.”

McLaren team principal Gavin Ward added: “Callum brings experience with this team and at the Indy 500 that we think is very valuable as we enter the biggest two weeks of our season.

“He and the team got along well during the first two events of the season, and we’re looking forward to carrying that over here.

“I’m confident that Callum and the #6 team will be competing near the front of the grid during qualifying and on race day, just like the rest of our cars.”

After the Indy 500, Ilott will return to his World Endurance Championship drive in a Jota-run Porsche Hypercar, having taken his first overall victory last weekend at Spa alongside ex-Formula 1 driver Will Stevens.

How has Ilott done at the Indy 500 before?

It’s safe to say Ilott has a love/hate relationship with the event.

In his rookie year in 2022 he impressed by qualifying 19th for the Juncos Hollinger Racing team’s first Indy 500 since 2019 (when its driver Kyle Kaiser bumped McLaren’s Fernando Alonso off the grid for the race in qualifying).

However, Ilott was caught out in dirty air and crashed during the race.

His 2023 event was much more dramatic.

After driving the car in the open test, Ilott felt there was a massive handling issue, although this was not showing up in the data.

Iloptt struggled to convince the team of his concern but, on Friday before qualifying, Juncos switched to the back-up car and he immediately posted his fastest laps in May. With just 14 laps of driving, he comfortably qualified 27th.

He wasn’t done there and, with a sensible drive, learning from what happened the year before, Ilott systematically moved up the order and took a 12th-place finish, Juncos’s best from seven Indy 500 starts.

Does he have a chance to win?

Ilott’s biggest asset is his team, but it might be his biggest weakness too.

That because McLaren fought for the win last year and believed it had two of the best cars in the race. If that’s the case again, Ilott will have to beat a previous winner in Alexander Rossi, Indy 500 duck-to-water driver Pato O’Ward, and a driver regularly discussed as one of the best in North America: NASCAR Cup champion Kyle Larson.

Felix Rosenqvist drove the #6 last year and still believes he had the best car before crashing out. O’Ward also crashed trying to pass eventual runner-up Marcus Ericsson.

If Ilott continues his sensible approach from 2023 he has every chance of taking the victory.

Why is Ilott even available?

If it was clear Ilott would be available for 2024 midway through last year, he would be in a full-time IndyCar seat now. But the seeds of discontent between Juncos and Ilott were sewed at that Indy 500 when Ilott wanted the back-up car and JHR was reluctant to oblige.

Ilott had also received some messages of hate on social media after two incidents with his team-mate Agustin Canapino. Those messages weren’t Canapino’s fault but the abuse was tough to take.

The team and Ilott decided to mutually part ways, according to its announcement, and Juncos went for Romain Grosjean while Ilott bagged a plum sportscar seat.

While it’s IndyCar’s loss, if Ilott continues to perform as he has for Jota he’ll have a very long and well-paid career in sportscars, and won’t need to return to IndyCar.

While Pourchaire’s full-time gig gives him the exclusive chance to impress McLaren for the rest of the year, Ilott will still be in contention for that seat and others in IndyCar.

What he did in his two years in the series for a minnow team, including scoring a front-row qualifying in 2022 and taking two top-five finishes in 2023, will not be forgotten quickly.

Full Indy 500 entry list

AJ Foyt Racing: Santino Ferrucci, Sting Ray Robb
Andretti Global: Marco Andretti, Marcus Ericsson, Colton Herta, Kyle Kirkwood
Arrow McLaren: Callum Ilott, Kyle Larson, Pato O’Ward, Alexander Rossi
Chip Ganassi Racing: Marcus Armstrong, Scott Dixon, Linus Lundqvist, Alex Palou, Kyffin Simpson
Dale Coyne Racing: Katherine Legge, Nolan Siegel
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing: Conor Daly, Ryan Hunter-Reay
Ed Carpenter Racing: Ed Carpenter, Christian Rasmussen, Rinus VeeKay
Juncos Hollinger Racing: Agustin Canapino, Romain Grosjean
Meyer Shank Racing: Tom Blomqvist, Helio Castroneves, Felix Rosenqvist
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing: Christian Lundgaard, Pietro Fittipaldi, Graham Rahal, Takuma Sato
Team Penske: Scott McLaughlin, Josef Newgarden, Will Power

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