The first session of opening-day practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway ended with Josef Newgarden atop the speed board at 220.263 mph.
Newgarden, racing for local Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, picked up right where he left off last year at IMS: fast. Well, fast for the day’s activity thus far.
Only nine drivers took the track in the 12p.m. to 2p.m. session. Takuma Sato, Ed Carpenter, Charlie Kimball, Will Power, Tony Kanaan and former winners Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves all saw limited track time as most took basic shakedown laps to break in the 2.5 mile oval.
The overcast morning saw temperatures below 50 degrees prompting some teams to prep for later this afternoon during the first session before taking their cars to tech inspection. The second practice session for opening day will run from 4p.m. to 6p.m. when the track closes.
Rookie orientation has begun in the time split between practices. Former NASCAR Sprint Cup Driver AJ Allmendinger was the first rookie to take the track completing phase-one and two of rookie orientation. Completing phase one requires 10 laps between 200 mph and 205 mph while phases two and three require 15 laps at 205-209 mph and just at or over 210 mph.
The other rookies that have completed phase one of their orientations are Carlos Munoz and Tristian Vautier. The rookie orientation must be completed successfully before all three drivers can take the track for regular practice hours with the rest of the field.
The 97th running of the Indianapolis 500 is Sunday, May 26th. Qualifications are next weekend with pole day on Saturday, May 18th and bump day the next day.