Indy 500 Qualifying 2012, Field: Scott Dixon, Marco Andretti Among Favorites

May 17, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; IndyCar series driver Scott Dixon pulls out of his pit stall during practice for the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Michael Hickey-US PRESSWIRE

The 2012 Indy 500 isn't until next weekend, but qualifying begins Saturday.

The 2012 Indy 500 isn't until Memorial Day Weekend, but Indy 500 qualifying will begin this weekend, on Saturday, May 19, with IndyCar drivers looking to get position up front for next Sunday's race.

All of the drivers are starting new, turbocharged engines this year, and 2008 Indy 500 champion Scott Dixon and Marco Andretti have been among the fastest drivers in practice, with Andretti turning the fastest lap in qualifying practice (223.676 miles per hour on Tuesday) and Dixon producing the best one (223.088 miles per hour) on Thursday. But the times turned in haven't been what IndyCar was expecting, and so the engines will be getting another boost for Fast Friday practice.

Dixon and Ganassi Racing teammate Dario Franchitti will enjoy their status as the only set of teammates with Indy 500 wins. Team Penske's Helio Castroneves is the only other winner confirmed as a part of the field, but Buddy Rice might hop in a car for Ed Carpenter Racing. And there are a pair of former Formula One veterans making their first Indy 500 forays in 2012: Rubens Barrichello, the most experienced F1 driver in history, joins Tony Kanaan on the KV Racing Technology team, and Jean Alesi will drive for Fan Force United.

For the first time since 1947, the defending Indy 500 champion will not be in the field due to a fatal crash. 2011 Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon died after a crash at the 2011 IZOD IndyCar World Championship in October of last year. Wheldon will be honored with a number of tributes leading up to and on race day.

IndyCar's most recognizable name in recent memory won't be running in the 2012 Indy 500, either, with Danica Patrick busy making her transition to NASCAR.

Here's the full field of 34 drivers entering 2012 Indy 500 qualifying this weekend, grouped by car make and team, via the Indianapolis Star.

Chevrolet

Andretti Autosport

Marco Andretti, Ana Beatriz, James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Sebastian Saavedra

Ed Carpenter Racing

Ed Carpenter, TBA

KV Racing Technology

Rubens Barrichello, Tony Kanaan, E.J. Viso

Panther Racing

JR Hildebrand

Team Penske

Ryan Briscoe, Helio Castroneves, Will Power

Honda

A.J. Foyt Racing

Mike Conway, Wade Cunningham

Dale Coyne Racing

James Jakes, Justin Wilson

Ganassi Racing

Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, Charlie Kimball, Graham Rahal

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing

Takuma Sato, Michel Jourdain

Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing

Josef Newgarden, Bryan Clauson

Schmidt Hamilton Racing

Simon Pagenaud, Townsend Bell

Lotus

Bryan Herta Autosport

Alex Tagliani

Dragon Racing

Sebastien Bourdais, Katherine Legge

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing

Oriol Servia.

HVM Racing

Simona De Silvestro

Fan Force United

Jean Alesi

For more on the IndyCar series and the 2012 Indy 500, visit Pop Off Valve.

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