Simon Pagenaud has finished the opening practice day for the Verizon IndyCar Series 2018 Indianapolis 500 as the fastest driver. The Team Penske driver lapped the speedway with an average speed of 225.787-mph to take the fastest time by two-tenths of a second over his returning team-mate Helio Castroneves.
Yesterday’s opening day of practice saw two practice sessions take place, with a two-hour rookie orientation and veteran refresher test taking place in between. In the opening session of the day, Pagenaud set his best lap that would remain the fastest time for the rest of the day. Castroneves got close in the second session, but he could not usurp Simon at the top.
Pagenaud ended up being the only driver in the top ten of the combined results table to have set his best lap during the first session. The next driver to have had their quickest run in practice one was fifteenth placed Josef Newgarden.
“The #22 Menards car is looking really, really fast,” said Pagenaud, “It was a very productive day, so, yeah, [I] felt pretty happy.
“We obviously are still learning a lot about the aerodynamics of the car. It’s quite different to what we had the past few years. There’s still a lot to learn for everybody, I believe, but we’re on the right track.”
Behind the Penske duo at the front was third-placed Ed Carpenter. Ed, who once again is running just the oval races this year, was two-tenths off of the best time by Pagenaud, potentially showcasing the pace of Ed Carpenter Racing; who have run well during the last few years at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The returning veteran, Jay Howard, was fourth fastest in the #7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda. Scott Dixon would complete the top five for Chip Ganassi Racing. Sixth would go to Marco Andretti, the fastest of the Andretti squad with a 224.217-mph average lap speed.
Sage Karam would give Dreyer & Reinbold Racing seventh place in the #24 car. He was just ahead of Carlin‘s Charlie Kimball. It was a strong start for both teams, both of which may have been worried about being bumped from the field in this Saturday’s qualifying session.
Returning to the site of their first Verizon IndyCar Series race a year ago, Harding Racing would finish the first day of practice with the ninth fastest time, courtesy of their driver Gabby Chaves. Rookie Zach Veach would complete the top ten for Andretti, with Ryan Hunter-Reay and Spencer Pigot just outside the top ten in eleventh and twelfth.
Further back, Robert Wickens finished his first official day of Indy 500 practice in sixteenth place, just ahead of Sebastien Bourdais who had shown fantastic pace at the speedway a year ago before his horrible crash in qualifying.
Danica Patrick finished her first practice outings as the twentieth fastest driver for ECR. She led a small group of fellow returning drivers, including Carlos Munoz, Oriol Servia – who gave Scuderia Corsa their IndyCar on-track debut – and Stefan Wilson. JR Hildebrand made his return in twenty-fifth, just behind Alexander Rossi in twenty-fourth.
In the rookie orientation and veteran refresher test, Zachary Claman De Melo successfully completed his test and is now clear to race in the 500, as is James Davison and the aforementioned Servia. Stefan Wilson has yet to complete the test and will look to do so in today’s second day of running.
Practice will continue later today at the speedway, with one session scheduled for the day. Three more practice sessions will follow this week before qualifying takes place on May 19 and 20.
2018 Verizon IndyCar Series – Indianapolis 500 – Practice one and two combined results top twelve:
[table id=3004 /]
Full combined results of the first two practice sessions are available here: http://www.imscdn.com/indycar_media/documents/2018-05-15/05-15-18%20Indy%20500%20day%201%20practice.pdf