Sage Karam tops opening day of Indy 500 practice

Sage Karam ended the opening day of practice at a blustery Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the quickest time.

The day was affected by the weather, with rain initially delaying the session before several stoppages due to ‘sprinkles’ on the 2.5-mile oval.

Thirty of the thirty-four entries for this years 99th Indianapolis 500 took to the track, and it was the Chevrolet-powered Chip Ganassi Racing’s Karam who set the pace, running a best lap of 225.802mph, with team-mates Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan second and third.

“It’s only the first day, so it’s not about how fast you are today,” said Karam at the end of the day. “It’s about how fast you are on Sunday in two weeks. It definitely feels good, though. It’s the first time I’ve ever been P1 at the (Indianapolis Motor) Speedway so it’s a good feeling.

“We have a lot of work to do. The cars not anywhere near where we want it to be for race day or qualifying. I’ve got a great team. They worked really hard. They are making it a lot easier on us drivers by being as prepared as they are. We are picking this new aero kit apart and we’re figuring it out every time we go out.”

Marco Andretti was the fourth driver to get over 225mph, and was the leading Honda-powered driver at the speedway for his Andretti Autosport team.

“We got through a lot of test items on our list today,” said Andretti. “We needed to mileage out the engine and for only having one set of tires, I’m pretty pleased with where things progressed to for the Snapple team.

“But I think there’s still a lot of speed coming for the #27 Honda.”

Eight more drivers exceeded 224mph, led by Carpenter Fisher Hartman drivers JR Hildebrand and two-time Indy 500 pole sitter Ed Carpenter, while Carlos Munoz and Justin Wilson were seventh and eighth respectively for Andretti Autosport.

Takuma Sato was ninth quickest for AJ Foyt Enterprises ahead of CFH Racing’s Josef Newgarden, while James Hinchcliffe and Gabby Chaves were also above 224mph.

Team Penske had a very low-key day, with Will Power, Helio Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya not setting a reflective lap time as they sat out the majority of the day, although their fourth driver Simon Pagenaud completed thirty-one laps to sit nineteenth quickest.

Stefano Coletti completed his mandatory three-phase Rookie Orientation program, with Indy 500 legend Arie Luyendyk guiding him through the stages, and was twenty-fourth fastest in the day, but was delighted to have finally made his first appearance at the Brickyard after missing last week’s test due to Visa issues.

“I have been waiting for three months to get on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval,” said Coletti. “I didn’t get to do the first ROP (Rookie Orientation Program) because I was stuck in Europe because of my visa.

“I finally got to go out on track and I am very happy. It is very fast. I’m also happy because I got through the first two phases of my rookie test. I still have one more phase to go, which I can now do with the other drivers on track.

“I am very excited to be at Indy. It is my first time on an oval and I want to thank all the guys at KV Racing for helping me. I also want to thank Arie Luyendyk. He took me around the track this morning and gave me some tips which really helped today.”

The four drivers who did not get out on track were Jack Hawksworth and Alex Tagliani (both AJ Foyt), former Indy 500 winner Buddy Lazier (Lazier Racing Partners) and the #19 Dale Coyne entry, which currently does not have a driver confirmed to it, although James Davison, Katherine Legge and Ho-Pin Tung have all been linked to the seat in recent days.

Indianapolis 500 Practice 1 Result

18Sage KaramUSAChip Ganassi Racing225.802
29Scott DixonNZLChip Ganassi Racing225.293
310Tony KanaanBRZChip Ganassi Racing225.217
427Marco AndrettiUSAAndretti Autosport225.184
56JR HildebrandUSACFH Racing224.760
620Ed CarpenterUSACFH Racing224.738
726Carlos MunozCOLAndretti Autosport224.693
825Justin WilsonGBRAndretti Autosport224.242
914Takuma SatoJAPAJ Foyt Enterprises224.239
1021Josef NewgardenUSACFH Racing224.193
115James HinchcliffeCANSchmidt Peterson Racing224.174
1298Gabby ChavesCOLBryan Herta Autosport224.173
1329Simona de SilvestroSWIAndretti Autosport223.684
1424Townsend BellUSADreyer & Reinbold Racing223.637
1515Graham RahalUSARahal Letterman Lanigan Racing223.582
167James JakesGBRSchmidt Peterson Racing223.499
1711Sebastien BourdaisFRAKVSH Racing223.419
1832Oriol ServiaESPRahal Letterman Lanigan Racing223.301
1922Simon PagenaudFRATeam Penske222.885
2083Charlie KimballUSAChip Ganassi Racing222.100
2128Ryan Hunter-ReayUSAAndretti Autosport222.034
2243Conor DalyUSASchmidt Peterson Racing221.742
2317Sebastian SaavedraCOLAFS Chip Ganassi Racing220.438
244Stefano ColettiMONKV Racing Technology219.748
2563Pippa MannGBRDale Coyne Racing219.267
2688Bryan ClausonUSAKVSH Racing219.151
2718Carlos HuertasCOLDale Coyne Racing216.993
282Juan Pablo MontoyaCOLTeam Penske150.312
293Helio CastronevesBRZTeam Penske141.897
301Will PowerAUSTeam Penske137.763