Off to a fast start at Indy
Chris Symeon - Motorsports Editor|
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
When it's the month of May in the IndyCar Series, that can mean only thing -- Indianapolis.
Opening day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway took place on Sunday as 28 teams began preparing for the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500, which is scheduled on May 24. It was also the first test for the new superspeedway aero kit from Chevrolet and Honda.
The first four IndyCar races this season have been held on road/street courses. On Saturday, the series will run on Indianapolis Motor Speedway's 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course for the second time. Simon Pagenaud won last year's inaugural race on the course there.
The Indy 500 is the first oval race of the season. Qualifications for the 500- mile event will take place May 16-17.
Juan Pablo Montoya from Team Penske had the fastest lap overall in Day 1 of practice on the 2.5-mile oval at IMS. Montoya, who won the Indy 500 in 2000, topped the charts with a lap at 226.772 mph in his Chevrolet, which was almost 4 mph quicker than the best lap on opening day one year ago, set by Will Power.
Twenty-one drivers surpassed Power's lap speed from last year.
"It's faster for sure, no doubt about it," Andretti Autosport driver and 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay said after he posted the ninth- quickest lap at 225.208 mph. "Speeds are going to be up."
IndyCar teams had been testing the new aero kit for the Chevrolet and Honda cars on road/street courses since the start of the year. Chevrolet and Honda have each designed one kit with parts for road/street courses, short ovals (1 mile or less in length) and superspeedways (1.5 miles or longer). The kits are aimed at improving on-track performance, particularly with advancements in speed, innovation and safety.
Montoya's teammate, Helio Castroneves, a three-time Indy 500 winner, was second-fastest at 226.468 mph. Marco Andretti from Andretti Autosport had the quickest lap among the Honda drivers, third overall on the charts at 226.268 mph.
"I think the time sheet, as always, is irrelevant until you get to the race or until you get to qualifying," Montoya said. "Everybody is posting times in the draft, and it's a matter of who is doing the best in the draft. I'll tell you, the Hondas are looking strong. I think they were doing a lot of race work at the end, so we'll see."
Ed Carpenter from CFH Racing has won the pole position for the Indy 500 the previous two years. His pole speed at Indy last year was 231.067 mph.
Two days after the May 9 Grand Prix of Indianapolis, practice for the Indy 500 will resume and continue through May 18, giving teams enough time to fine-tune their cars for the 500-mile race.
"I think there are definitely still some gremlins to work out," Andretti said. "We have an overwhelming laundry list of changes to try. Luckily, we have a lot of time to work with it, but we're going to need some time ... I'm not thoroughly pleased with my car now. The good thing about that is we're still in the hunt, speed-wise."
After Sunday's opening day practice, teams began preparing for the road course race at IMS. Teams will practice for this event on Thursday and then qualify on Friday.
"It's going to be a little bit of work for the team this week to switch the cars over, but it is what it is, and it's the same for everybody," Montoya said. "This is a pretty cool road course, and the race last year was pretty amazing. With the long straights and the draft, it's pretty exciting, and it should bring really good racing."