Another year passes as the Verizon IndyCar Series adds another running to the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, and another year for Marco Andretti to top the speed charts for the first day of practice. A total of 32 cars took to the famed 2.5 oval to start their shakedown ahead of 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway went green at noon for the start of rookie practice, with Ed Jones, Zach Veach, and Jack Harvey all required to complete a three-phase program. In addition to first-timers, a number of others were allowed to pace the track for a refresher course, including two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso, Pippa Mann, Jay Howard, Sebastian Saavedra and Oriol Servia.
Alonso topped the session with a lap recorded at 221.634 mph in the No. 29 McLaren/Andretti Autosport Honda. He was trailed by Servia and Jones who captured speeds of 220.759 and 219.288 mph, respectively. Howard and Saavedra completed the top five as Harvey and Veach struggled for track time, the former ending his day early due to a broken steering component and smack with the wall. Veach and Harvey have yet to complete their rookie requirements, but Jones joined Alonso in completing his.
The track opened up to the rest of the field at 2:00pm. A total of 32 cars recorded speeds ranging from Andretti’s 226.338 mph to Gabby Chaves’ 207.672. With temperatures higher in today’s opening practice, the top times were slightly lower than those of last year, with Andretti topping last year’s opening day with a 228.978 mph. Scott Dixon’s No. 9 Honda and Ed Carpenter’s No. 20 Chevrolet completed the top three.
The Hondas of Dale Coyne Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais, Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s Graham Rahal scoring times fourth through sixth fastest. After Harvey, the only other incident of the day was a yellow flag called for the Rahal’s smoking Honda, with engine issues.
Only two Chevrolets paced the top ten with Will Power scoring a seventh fastest time to be the only driver of the ‘bowtie’ to join the Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet in the top 10. Tony Kanaan, Mikhail Aleshin and Takuma Sato rounded out the top 10 with only 2.75 mph separating them from the front.
It may be too soon to say that Honda has the advantage, but the parity between the two makes has been nothing to forget about through 2017. With Honda showing strong at the first two street circuit of the year and Chevrolet looking fast at the short ovals, it’s anyone’s guess who has the best package at the Brickyard. There’s always the potential for either make not showing the full potential of their performance yet.
Most entries completed around 40 laps with Charlie Kimball completing the most laps at 75 in the No. 83 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet and Harding Racing’s Gabby Chaves completing the least with six laps in the No. 88 Chevrolet.
Practice is set to begin at 12:00pm Eastern tomorrow, Tuesday, May 16. As done today, the session will be live streamed at racecontrol.indycar.com.