Photo from espn.go.com
Nobody piled it up, but nobody went very fast either in the first official practice sessions for the Indianapolis 500. While some fifteen miles per hour from the record, the new cars sure looked sharp flying around the old oval.
Update: Fresh off retirement, a reinvigorated Helio shot to the top of the speed charts in happy hour with a lap of 224.66 mph in his quest for number four. The order shuffled somewhat as many cars tested handling in traffic. That’s wise with so many rookies in the field. Ed Carpenter ended up second and had the fastest non tow lap at over 221 mph. Jay Howard jumped to third late during happy hour as nearly fourteen hundred laps were turned on the day. He was followed by Dixon, Marco and Sage.
More diva than driver Danica sat 8th quick when lightening in the area temporarily ended on track activities rather abruptly just after 4:00 pm local time. She wound up 18th.
Marco “practice warrior” Andretti turned in the fastest lap prior to the weather delay of just over 224 mph, as speeds were down all day. Over a mile per hour slower were our boy Sage Karam, Charlie Kimball, Ed Jones and his Ganassi teammate Scott Dixon in the top five. That’s three Hondas and two Chevys. Another AA 500 winner, Ryan Hunter-Reay, was sixth quick while Gabby “Pat” Chaves was seventh. That’s another Honda and Chevy.
Thirty four cars appeared on track, as a healthy – and bumpy! – number of entrants are expected to materialize. AJ Foyt rookie Matheus Leist didn’t take his car out all day for some reason. After practice for veterans, there was the usual refresher session in which the likes of Danica, Sage and other part timers got their shot. While no one walled it, 500 winner Alexander Rossi came extremely close in his AA Napa machine.
Series champ Josef Newgarden and defending Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato both struggled to find speed, mired back in the twenties and some 5 mph off Andretti’s pace. In fact, Penske’s top effort was Pags in ninth.
It’s obviously still early at the Speedway, but the usual suspects – AA, Ganassi and eventually Penske – are beginning to emerge. Not to mention Sage!
With the weather clearing, the green flag’s due to drop soon for happy hour, which will change everything. Check back for near constant updates through Memorial Day and beyond.