Today was Opening Day of practice for the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500. It’s a day that everyone looks forward to each year. While the forecast didn’t look good leading up to today, it couldn’t have been much better than what it was. Warm and sunny conditions provided excellent baseline for teams to begin preparations for the May 27 race. There was a slight delay for a few sprinkles, and a threat of severe weather late in the day, but fortunately it never came.
Simon Pagenaud had the fastest speed of the day, which came in the early portion of practice. The Frenchman posted a lap of 225.787 mph and was the only driver to run a lap in under 40 seconds. Team Penske teammate and three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves was second fastest, and paced the final session of the day at 224.665 mph.
Indianapolis 500 Combined Practice Results
There were 34 drivers that made it out for practice on Tuesday, with Matheus Leist being the one exception. There were a total of 2,066 laps turned, with Jack Harvey (107) putting in the most for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. More importantly, there were no incidents to report throughout the course of the entire day.
After the first two hour session for veterans, the track was available for refreshers. Zachary Claman De Melo also had to complete his Rookie Orientation program, which he did successfully. Just a few hours before he climbed into his Honda machine, Dale Coyne Racing announced that he would be filling in the No. 19 car for injured teammate Pietro Fittipaldi.
Today’s practice seemed slightly more relaxed than in previous years. Pagenaud credits some of that to the simplicity of the aero kits. “We have a really good baseline and it’s a lot more simple this year without all the winglets and stuff. Today we worked on aerodynamics, and tomorrow will be more mechanical,” he said. This is the strategy for most teams, as they will begin working on qualifying setups on Thursday and Friday.
The no-tow speeds in the afternoon session were led by Ed Carpenter, at 221.512 mph. Carpenter was third fastest overall on Tuesday. The other drivers in the top five of the no-tow speeds were Charlie Kimball, JR Hildebrand, Castroneves, and Tony Kanaan.
While Chevrolet took the top three spots overall on Tuesday, there wasn’t any dominance of one manufacturer on the first day. Through each session, it appeared as though things were quite even between Chevy and Honda. This bodes well for qualifying, and the race as well. Practice resumes tomorrow from 11 AM to 6 PM.