First Day of Practice for the 102nd Indy 500
INDIANAPOLIS -RIS- (May 15, 2018) The day's threat of thunderstorms never materialized, and the annual thunder from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's 2.5-mile oval proceeded pretty much as planned.
The day's best team was no surprise to anyone familiar with Indianapolis. Team Penske put 2016 IndyCar Series champion Simon Pagenaud in the fastest car of the day. The #22 Menards Team Penske Chevy pinged the chart at 225.787 mph during the morning open session.
Teammate Helio Castroneves, running only two IndyCar events thus far this season - both the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and the Indianapolis 500, was the morning's second-quick at 223.445.
Team Penske's lone American, Josef Newgarden ran third in the morning cool at 223.229.
In the AFTERNOON SPEEDS, Castroneves was quickest at 224.665 mph.
Ed Carpenter, running only the IndyCar Series ovals for his Ed Carpenter Racing team, was third-quick overall at 224.523.
Carpenter's lap of 221.512 was the day's fastest lap without an aerodynamic tow, making him one of the drivers to watch as this week develops.
Thirty-five cars are entered for the 33 positions available in this year's Indianapolis 500. Thirty-four of those cars presented at practice today. Only the #4 of Matheus Leist, former Indy Lights driver, running this May for A.J. Foyt Racing, failed to present for practice.
Chevrolet dominated the day's speeds, but Honda was close behind.
Jay Howard, driving the #7 One Cure Honda for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, was fourth-fastest overall at 224.518 mph.
Howard's Honda was followed by Scott Dixon and Marco Andretti, in overall positions fifth and sixth, respectively.
The middle of the day was reserved for those drivers participating in the Indy 500 rookie orientation or refresher programs. Canadian rookie Zach Claman De Melo completed all the phases of his Rookie Orientation Program, clearing him for full practice tomorrow. Veterans Danica Patrick, Oriol Servia, Jay Howard, Sage Karam, Stefan Wilson, and James Davison all turned in required refresher laps.
The weather this week is iffy, at best. Rain is forecast in varying percentages of likelihood during every day this week.
For the next several days, expect teams to work on fine-tuning the setup of this year's new aero package on the cars. As we get later in the week, speeds should rise as the drivers and teams become more comforable with the cars.
RIS will be here all month to bring you the news from Indy as it happens. Stay tuned...
Tom has been a contributor to RIS since 1992. He was invited to join the staff as a full-time reporter/editor in 1995, and has covered IndyCar, Formula 1, NASCAR, Grand-Am, ALMS and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In addition to his RIS work, Tom has been a contributor for General Motors, Nissan, Toyota and the ACO.