Fourteen drivers have won the Indianapolis 500 starting in 2000. Four have won it multiple times. Indianapolis Star
If you win the Indianapolis 500, you're on the list. Even better, you're on the Borg-Warner trophy.
Compiling the top 20 Indy 500 starters from the past 20 years starts with the winners —14 of them. Within that group are multiple winners and almost multiple winners. There's also a spirited group of drivers who have come oh-so-close — and some of them still have a chance to take the checkered flag and all the glory that comes with it.
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20. Ed Carpenter
The Park Tudor and Butler alum is known more for starting up front than finishing there, but he was the 2018 runner-up and has five top-10 finishes in 16 starts. He has started from the pole three times (the first time in 2013), and twice from the middle of the front row. He owns Ed Carpenter Racing and specializes in oval racing.
19. Josef Newgarden
He has watched Penske teammates Will Power and Simon Pagenaud celebrate the past two years, and he can't wait to drink the milk and kiss the bricks. His best finish in nine starts is third in 2016, and he has four top-10 finishes in nine starts.
18. Vitor Meira
He was often an IndyCar race contender in the decade of the 2000s, but he never took a checkered flag. He never finished worse than 10th in the 500 from 2004-08, finishing second in '05 (to Dan Wheldon) and '08 (Scott Dixon).
17. Carlos Munoz
He has five top-10 finishes in six starts, including runner-up finishes in 2013 and '16. In '13, Munoz was among the scrum swapping the lead almost every lap when a Dario Franchitti crash forced the race to finish under caution, denying Munoz a shot at overtaking Tony Kanaan. In '16, Munoz worked a late pit stop just right and he came back charging, but Alexander Rossi milked his fuel just enough to take the checkered flag.
16. Danica Patrick
She burst onto the scene with a fourth-place finish as a rookie in 2005 and had a top finish of third in '09. She earned six top-10 finishes in seven starts before moving on to NASCAR. She concluded her driving career in the 2018 Indy 500.
15. Marco Andretti
He almost earned a place on the Borg-Warner trophy as a rookie in 2006, but Sam Hornish Jr. overtook him on the final straightaway in the race's second-closest finish. He also has three third-place finishes and eight top-10s in 14 starts.
14. Buddy Rice
He started the 2004 race from the pole and came out ahead on the final round of pit stops, only to see the race shortened to 180 laps by rain. He made six starts, finishing eighth in 2008.
13. Gil de Ferran
The 2003 winner retired from driving after that season. He had four total Indy 500 starts, three after 2000. He finished second in 2001.
12. Takuma Sato
He won a spirited late duel with Helio Castroneves and Max Chilton, denying Castroneves a fourth Indy 500 title by 0.211 seconds. He became the first Japanese driver to win the race. He finished third in 2019 and has made 10 starts.
11. Sam Hornish Jr.
He won the second-closest 1-2 finish (at the time) in race history, passing Marco Andretti on the final front stretch in 2007. He made seven Indy 500 starts before moving to NASCAR. He also finished fourth in 2007.
10. Ryan Hunter-Reay
"Captain America" won the 2014 race by holding off Helio Castroneves by 0.06 seconds, currently the second-closest 1-2 finish in race history. Marco Andretti and Carlos Munoz were also within 1 second of Hunter-Reay, who has five top-10 finishes in 12 starts.
9. Simon Pagenaud
Starting from the pole in 2019, Pagenaud held off Alexander Rossi in a close duel over the final 15 laps, following a red-flag stoppage. He has four top-10 finishes in eight starts.
8. Will Power
He won by 3+ seconds over Ed Carpenter in his 11th Indy 500 start. He has seven top-10 finishes in 12 starts, and has started from the front row on four occasions.
7. Alexander Rossi
He was an obscure rookie in 2016, when he won the 100th Indy 500 in a daring fuel-saving gambit. He has proven to be a consistent contender since, with top-10 finishes the past three years, including a runner-up in 2019.
6. Tony Kanaan
He won the 2013 race, which had a mind-boggling 68 passes for the lead. He made the last pass before an accident prompted a race-ending caution. Kanaan was also runner-up in 2004 and has 10 top-10 finishes in 18 starts. He has led 14 races, the most in race history. His 7,380 miles of race competition rank in the top 10 all-time.
5. Scott Dixon
He had the field covered after starting from the pole in 2008. He has earned the pole position three times and has 11 top-10 finishes in 17 starts. He ranks in the top-10 all-time in laps led (452) and miles completed (7,172). He has led 12 Indy 500s.
4. Juan Pablo Montoya
He has made the most of his five Indy 500 starts, winning as a rookie in 2000 by 7+ seconds and adding a second title 15 years later by holding off Penske teammate Will Power. He also has finishes of fifth and sixth. His career also includes victories in Formula 1, NASCAR and endurance racing.
3. Dan Wheldon
He dueled with Danica Patrick late in the 2005 race and comfortably led when a late accident prompted a race-ending caution. His 2011 victory was one of the strangest in race history, when rookie J.R. Hildebrand led coming into the final turn, only to strike the outside wall, allowing Wheldon around to take the checkered flag. Wheldon had six top-10 finishes in nine starts. He was killed in a 2011 racing accident.
2. Dario Franchitti
Franchitti won the race in 2007, '10 and '12, becoming the 10th driver to earn at least three Indy 500 victories. The 2007 race turned out to be a race against the competition and the weather, as Franchitti stayed in front of accidents gathering many trying to catch him before rain ended the race after 166 laps. Three years later, he led 155 laps and survived a late-race fuel-mileage game that many challengers couldn't. Franchitti survived a spirited duel with teammate Scott Dixon and Takuma Sato, whose failed pass attempt on the final lap resulted in a spin and crash.
Franchitti had six top-10s in 10 starts, but his career ended in 2013 after a race crash seriously injured his back.
1. Helio Castroneves
Castroneves is a three-time Indy 500 champion, and he's not far from being a five-time champ.
He won his first Indy 500 in 2001, defeating Penske teammate Gil de Ferran and climbing the fence at the start/finish line, delighting fans.
Castroneves' second victory, in 2002, came with controversy. He dueled with Paul Tracy on the closing laps, and Tracy made a move for the lead heading into Turn 3 on Lap 199. Behind them, a crash brought out a caution. Tracy believed he had gotten by Castroneves, but race officials ruled Castroneves still led, and he won.
His 2009 victory was relatively drama-free, clearing Dan Wheldon by almost 2 seconds. He became the ninth driver to earn at least three Indy 500 wins.
Throw in his 2014 (by 0.06 seconds) and 2017 (0.211) runner-up finishes, and he's not far from standing alone in Indy 500 lore. He has another runner-up finish (2003), and 14 top-10s in 19 starts. He has completed 8,497.5 miles in the race and has led in 12 starts, third-most on both lists. He also has four pole position starts.