Team Penske Leads Opening Day of Indy 500 Practice

INDIANAPOLIS – The first day of practice for the Indianapolis 500 doesn’t normally lead to giving us a whole lot to go by as far as who’s going to be the drivers to beat for the annual Memorial Day weekend classic. After all, it’s just one day of many for the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers on the famed 2.5-mile track.

But, there’s still bragging rights on the line. You still want to have speed in your cars at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway no matter what day of the week it falls on.

For Tuesday’s session, Team Penske made a statement.

The last few years, they’ve struggled in the annual ‘500 Mile race. In fact, they have just one Indy 500 triumph over the last eight years and counting. But, Monday’s opening day of practice for the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 (11 a.m. ET/ABC/INDYCAR Radio Network) went to the Penske foursome.

The day was broken down into three parts. The first two hours of the day was meant for just veterans only. Penske drivers were quick in that practice having all four cars land in the top six of the overall speed charts led by Simon Pagenaud. The Frenchman turned a blazing hot lap of 225.787 mph in his No. 22 Chevrolet to end up P1 for the day too. Helio Castroneves was second with a speed of 223.445 mph in his No. 3 Chevrolet. Current points leader Josef Newgarden was third (223.229 mph) in his No. 1 Chevrolet to give Penske a 1-2-3 sweep of the leaderboard.

Marco Andretti (223.214 mph) and Ed Carpenter (223.124 mph) rounded out the top five in the incident free session.

The next two hours were meant for rookies or veterans needing refresher courses. Zachary Claman DeMelo who was named as Pietro Fittipaldi’s replacement in the No. 19 Honda completed all three phases, while Oriol Servia and James Davison completed their veteran refreshers.

The final three hours were meant allowed for an all skate party. All 35 eligible drivers were invited to take part for the final three hour session of the day. That practice was briefly halted for a half an hour for a passing thunderstorm just north of the track. Luckily, no precipitation fell on the Speedway, so we got back to action at 4:50 p.m. ET.

Castroneves gave Penske a sweep of the speed charts with a lap of 224.665 mph to end up quickest in session No. 3. Carpenter improved from fifth to second as he turned a speed of 224.523 mph in his No. 20 Chevrolet. Another part time driver in Jay Howard was third in his No. 7 Honda with a lap of 224.518 mph.

It’s rare to see three part-time drivers lead the way on opening day like they did in session No. 3.

2008 Indy 500 champion Scott Dixon was fourth overall (224.353 mph) while Andretti rounded out the top five (224.217 mph).

That final session was a thrilling one as we saw race day drafting throughout the session. It was nothing to see 8-12 cars running in tow with one another. Matheus Leist is the only one of the 35 drivers not to hit the track on Tuesday.

The series will have all skates now in the rest of the sessions. Wednesday’s practice starts at 11 a.m. ET and ends at 6 p.m. ET.

Session 3 Results

  1.  3 Castroneves 224.665
  2. 20 Carpenter 224.523
  3.  7 Howard 224.518
  4.  9 Dixon 224.353
  5. 98 Andretti 224.217
  6. 24 Karam 223.998
  7. 23 Kimball 223.921
  8. 88 Chaves 223.640
  9. 26 Veach 223.551
  10. 28 Hunter-Reay 223.488
  11. 21 Pigot 223.398
  12. 33 Davison 223.346
  13. 30 Sato 223.305
  14. 22 Pagenaud 223.284
  15.  6 Wickens R 223.133
  16. 18 Bourdais 222.960
  17. 10 Jones 222.848
  18. 13 Patrick 222.728
  19. 29 Munoz 222.701
  20. 64 Servia 222.697
  21. 25 Wilson 222.524
  22. 12 Power 222.495
  23. 27 Rossi 222.471
  24. 66 Hildebrand 222.256
  25.  5 Hinchcliffe 221.900
  26.  1 Newgarden 221.852
  27. 15 Rahal 221.671
  28. 60 Harvey 221.500
  29. 14 Kanaan 221.412
  30. 59 Chilton 221.311
  31. 19 Claman DeMelo R 221.089
  32. 32 Kaiser R 220.707
  33. 17 Daly 215.926
  34. 63 Mann 214.731

Session 1 Results

  1. 22 Pagenaud 225.787
  2.  3 Castroneves 223.445
  3.  1 Newgarden 223.229
  4. 98 Andretti 223.214
  5. 20 Carpenter 223.124
  6. 12 Power 222.839
  7.  9 Dixon 222.734
  8. 29 Munoz 222.584
  9. 26 Veach 222.262
  10. 66 Hildebrand 221.620
  11. 88 Chaves 221.547
  12. 28 Hunter-Reay 221.421
  13.  5 Hinchcliffe 221.201
  14. 15 Rahal 221.126
  15. 21 Pigot 221.066
  16. 30 Sato 220.965
  17. 27 Rossi 220.928
  18. 60 Harvey 220.256
  19. 10 Jones 220.025
  20. 23 Kimball 218.968
  21. 18 Bourdais 218.806
  22. 59 Chilton 218.484

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