May is right around the corner and it felt (and sounded) like it today in Speedway, Indiana.
All 32 confirmed entries in next month’s Indianapolis 500 were at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway today as teams began the scheduled two-day test on the famed 2.5-mile oval. The action was delayed about 90 minutes as some light precipitation fell at the Speedway. It was cool and breezy, but cars eventually hit the track around 12:30 PM ET on Wednesday. The sessions were all still set to go off as planned, there was just a slight delay.
Veterans got on course first, and the Rookie Orientation Program followed, with seven drivers participating in the session. Romain Grosjean and Jimmie Johnson nearly finished their ROP last October, and just had to complete the final phase. Kyle Kirkwood, Devlin DeFrancesco, David Malukas, Callum Ilott, and Christian Lundgaard all were able to complete the three phases of orientation.
Phase 1 requires a driver to complete ten laps at speeds between 205-210 mph. Phase 2 requires a driver to complete 15 more laps at speeds between 210-215 mph. Phase 3 requires a driver to complete 15 laps at speeds over 215 mph. Johnson was able to get back behind the cockpit after undergoing surgery on his fractured hand following the race at Long Beach two weeks ago.
Four other drivers hit the track for a refresher session. That included Dreyer & Reinbold Racing teammates Sage Karam and Santino Ferrucci, as well as former Indy 500 winners Juan Montoya and Tony Kanaan. There were eight former winners in total that turned laps in today’s sessions. Kanaan was in the No. 1 Ganassi machine, which the team unveiled earlier in the morning. Kanaan is able to use that car number because his teammate Alex Palou earned it after winning the championship last season.
Defending Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves will be aiming for a record fifth victory next month, but the Meyer Shank Racing driver found trouble late in the day. Shortly after 5 PM, the Brazilian slid across the acceleration lane between Turns 1 and 2. He made heavy contact with the outside SAFER barrier but was able to walk away uninjured.
“I didn’t feel anything strange, anything bottoming, I wasn’t pushing,” Castroneves said. “And the rear just spun out. I was trying to control it, making sure I didn’t crash, and it was a very odd situation. Unfortunately, we couldn’t avoid that. It was very unusual.”
Nearly 20 minutes later, Will Power spun his No. 12 Chevrolet in the warmup lane and veered onto the track. Colton Herta was forced to take evasive action and lost control of his Andretti Autosport machine, sending him into the attenuator. Fortunately, neither driver was hurt in this incident, and all drivers were checked in the infield care center and released. The session ended about 30 minutes early so that officials could inspect the acceleration lane inside Turns 1 and 2. Reigning Indy 500 pole sitter Scott Dixon recorded the fastest lap of the day at 227.187 mph.
Participants are represented by two engine manufacturers, with Honda powering 17 cars and Chevrolet 15. The final entry list for the 500 will be confirmed at a later date, with the expected 33rd entry likely coming from the Juncos Hollinger Racing camp.
The single-car team has been working with representatives from a number of entities, including Cusick Motorsports, DragonSpeed, AFS Racing, and Top Gun Racing. The candidates to drive that car include Ryan Hunter-Reay, Stefan Wilson, Simona de Silvestro, Spencer Pigot, and RC Enerson, among others.
- AJ Foyt Racing: Dalton Kellett, Kyle Kirkwood, JR Hildebrand
- Andretti Autosport: Marco Andretti, Alexander Rossi, Devlin DeFransceco, Romain Grosjean, Colton Herta
- Arrow McLaren SP: Juan Pablo Montoya, Pato O’Ward, Felix Rosenqvist
- Chip Ganassi Racing: Scott Dixon, Marcus Ericsson, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Kanaan, Alex Palou
- Dale Coyne Racing: David Malukas, Takuma Sato
- Dreyer & Reinbold Racing: Santino Ferrucci, Sage Karam
- Ed Carpenter Racing: Ed Carpenter, Conor Daly, Rinus VeeKay
- Juncos Hollinger Racing: Callum Ilott
- Meyer Shank Racing: Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud
- Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing: Graham Rahal, Jack Harvey, Christian Lundgaard
- Team Penske: Josef Newgarden, Scott McLaughlin, Will Power
Each participating car receives nine sets of Firestone Firehawk tires to use. Rookies will have three additional sets while drivers taking the refreshers will have two additional sets of rubber.
There will be more on-track action tomorrow, although there is rain in the forecast in the morning. Tomorrow’s schedule runs from 10 AM to 4 PM for all eligible drivers. The viewing mounds adjacent to the IMS Museum will be open to the public at no charge. All activity can be viewed live in the US on Peacock Premium. International fans can view the test on IndyCar Live! The IndyCar Radio Network is also providing coverage for the sessions.
Opening Day practice for the Indianapolis 500 officially begins on May 17.