The weather forecast for Opening Day of practice for the 105th Indianapolis 500 did not look good but Mother Nature smiled down upon the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Tuesday. Despite a few moments of pause for a few sprinkles, the rain stayed away from 16th and Georgetown as teams and drivers hit the famed 2.5-mile oval.
Will Power ended the day with the fastest speed at 226.470 mph in his No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet. Ryan Hunter-Reay was second at 226.371 mph and Takuma Sato was just behind them at 226.132 mph. These three former Indy 500 winners were the only drivers to reach the 226 mph barrier on Tuesday. Sage Karam and Conor Daly rounded out the top five on Tuesday, in what turned out to be a very busy day on track.
Tuesday Indianapolis 500 Practice Results
The first two-hour session for veteran drivers saw plenty of action, with Graham Rahal finishing with the top speed in his No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda. Sprinkles delayed the Rookie Orientation Program and veteran refresher tests for JR Hildebrand, RC Enerson, and Stefan Wilson. The trio were all able to get their scheduled two-hour session in later in the afternoon.
Hildebrand and Enerson completed their refresher tests but Enerson ran into a bit of trouble before he could do the same. His No. 75 Top Gun Racing Chevrolet had mechanical issues that ended their day early. The team will have the track to themselves at 11 AM tomorrow morning to try to finish the second and third phases of the rookie test.
The final two hours of practice were open to everyone, and it got busy quickly. Among the drivers with the fastest no-tow speeds, Ed Carpenter took the top spot with a speed of 219.163 mph. There were a total of 2,369 laps turned on Tuesday, with Power completing the most (87) among the 35 participants. He was comfortable in the car, even in traffic. “Just a big tow,” Power said. “It’s as simple as that – trying to catch that train. But as far as in traffic, I felt pretty good. Running with two or three cars in front, I felt as comfortable as I have in a while.”
Shortly before 5 PM there was trouble for Sebastien Bourdais. The right-rear corner of his AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet caught fire but the good news is it didn’t appear to be an issue with the engine. “There’s water everywhere,” Bourdais said of the back of the car after retiring for the day while holding P27 at 220.137mph. “The engine was running fine and the turbo was as well, so it was probably a clamp or something. It’s probably burned a bunch of stuff but I don’t think we need to change the engine.”
IndyCar introduced a regulation in 2021 that requires teams to fill in the front half of the “hole” in the underwing of the Dallara chassis with a carbon fiber clam-shell piece. This increases downforce and reduces the reliance on the front wing, which will create more passing. After just one day in traffic, Power believes that the changes will generate even more action on the day of the race.
“It’s promising,” Power said. “I think adding that downforce is certainly going to help the racing. I think you’re going to have one of the old-style races where the front three are just swapping positions constantly because you can follow so close now. I think it will be good. It’s good for the fans.”
Practice continues tomorrow from Noon until 6 PM with public gates opening at 10 AM. Qualifying is scheduled to take place this weekend with the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 set to run on May 30.