Will Power fastest as Indy 500 practice begins

by Jordan Groves

Team Penske‘s Will Power has finished fastest on the first day of practice for the 2019 Indianapolis 500. The reigning Indy 500 winner set the fastest lap speed of 229.745-mph; a very fast speed indeed for the opening day of practice.

In what was perhaps an unusually fast first day of practice, the fastest nine drivers by the end of the day had all set average lap speeds over 228-mph. Helio Castroneves turned heads within the first hour of the day when he ran a 228-mph lap, with Ed Carpenter taking over the top spot soon after, where he would remain for much of the day.

Inside the final two hours, Penske team-mates Power and Simon Pagenaud – the Grand Prix of Indianapolis winner last Saturday – would hit the top, both setting 229-mph laps in quick succession. Their laps would remain at the top until the chequered flag flew to end the first day of running. Just seven-thousandths of a second would separate the pair’s best lap times.

Ed Carpenter’s previous best lap of 228.653-mph saw him end the day third fastest, with Helio Castroneves just behind in fourth fastest with his lap of 228.441-mph.

Colton Herta ended the opening practice day as the fastest rookie by quite some distance. He took the #88 Harding Steinbrenner Racing Honda to fifth fastest by the end of the day, setting his fastest lap speed of 228.284-mph. Conversely, he also was responsible for the one yellow flag period of the day that was not due to debris on the track. This came within the final hour of the day when he suffered a tyre failure that led to him spinning just after leaving the pits.

Dale Coyne Racing‘s Sebastien Bourdais set the sixth-fastest lap, just ahead of seventh-placed Alexander Rossi and his Andretti Autosport team-mates, Zach Veach and Marco Andretti. The fourth Andretti of Ryan Hunter-Reay was twelfth fastest, with the final Andretti car of Conor Daly further back in nineteenth place.

It was a strong first day for Ed Carpenter Racing. With their team boss inside the top three, Ed Jones and Spencer Pigot would both be inside the top twelve in tenth and eleventh respectively. Jones would set the fastest lap of the day that was unassisted by slipstream, whilst Pigot would complete the most laps of any driver, setting a tally of 128 laps in the #21 Chevrolet. On the flipside, Juncos Racing‘s Kyle Kaiser would set the fewest laps of the day, completing just ten laps during the six hours of running.

Former Indy 500 winners, Scott Dixon and Takuma Sato, would set the thirteenth and fourteenth fastest times. Fellow former winner, Tony Kanaan, would end the day down in twenty-fourth for A.J. Foyt Enterprises.

Rookies, Santino Ferrucci and Felix Rosenqvist would finish the opening day inside the top twenty. Ferrucci was sixteenth-fastest, two places ahead of Rosenqvist in eighteenth. Marcus Ericsson ended the day further back in twenty-ninth.

Credit; Chris Owens / Courtesy of IndyCar

Further back, Fernando Alonso ended his and McLaren Racing‘s first day of practice with the thirty-second fastest time out of the thirty-nine times set. His best lap speed in the #66 Chevrolet, 224.162-mph, was a decent result for the team on the first day. More importantly, Alonso was able to ease his way through his refresher training program early in the day’s running.

British driver Jordan King would turn his first laps on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval during the session in his #42 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda. He completed his rookie orientation test with relative ease and went on to set the thirty-third fastest-time of the day, whilst also gaining experience of pack running later on in the day.

Being the opening day of practice, two teams opted to move drivers between their cars to help shake them down. Arrow Schmidt Peterson‘s James Hinchcliffe practically played a game of musical chairs during the day, driving Marcus Ericsson’s #7, Jack Harvey‘s #60, Oriol Servia‘s #77 as well as his own #5 Honda.

By the end of the day’s running, Hinchcliffe had set 115-laps across all four cars, with his fastest lap actually coming whilst driving Ericsson’s car. He ended the day twenty-third fastest in Ericsson’s #7 Honda and twenty-fifth fastest in his own #5 car.

The other team that placed one of their more experienced drivers in another car to aid shakedown was CarlinMax Chilton ran thirteen laps in his team-mate Patricio O’Ward‘s #31 Chevrolet. Chilton would end the day twenty-seventh fastest in his primary #59 Chevrolet.

O’Ward, however, had a tough first day. After being ruled out of the April test due to regulations regarding his participation in the NTT IndyCar Series so far this season, this was the day where he would have wanted to get rookie orientation out of the way so that he could focus on qualifying and race preparation. However, his #31 Chevrolet developed a mechanical fault during the rookie orientation and refresher portion of the day, thus meaning that he could not complete rookie orientation. This also meant that he would be prohibited from taking part in the rest of the day’s running.

With thirty-six drivers on the entry list for the 2019 Indianapolis 500, three drivers will not make the field and will be eliminated after this weekend’s two-day qualification process. Disregarding drivers who made runs in multiple cars, the three slowest drivers were Dale Coyne’s James Davison in the #33 Honda, Team Stange Racing and SPM’s Oriol Servia in the #77 Honda and DragonSpeed‘s Ben Hanley in the #81 Chevrolet. All three will be hoping to find more speed to help them in their quests to qualify for the famous race.

The second day of practice will take place tomorrow; Wednesday, May 15.

Credit: Joe Skibinski / Courtesy of IndyCar

2019 NTT IndyCar Series – Indianapolis 500 – Practice one top twelve results:

POSNO.DRIVERNATTEAMTIMESPEED (MPH)
112Will PowerAUSTeam Penske39.1738229.745
222Simon PagenaudFRATeam Penske39.1810229.703
320Ed CarpenterUSAEd Carpenter Racing39.3610228.653
43Helio CastronevesBRATeam Penske39.3974228.441
588Colton Herta (R)USAHarding Steinbrenner Racing39.4246228.284
618Sebastien BourdaisFRADale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan39.4318228.242
726Zach VeachUSAAndretti Autosport39.4506228.133
827Alexander RossiUSAAndretti Autosport39.4631228.061
998Marco AndrettiUSAAndretti Herta39.4736228.000
1063Ed JonesUAEEd Carpenter Racing Scuderia Corsa39.4795227.966
1121Spencer PigotUSAEd Carpenter Racing39.5021227.836
1228Ryan Hunter-ReayUSAAndretti Autosport39.5358227.642

Full results of practice one can be found by clicking the following link: http://www.imscdn.com/INDYCAR/Documents/5559/2019-05-14/indycar-results-p1.pdf

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