Scott Dixon has got the ball rolling for his assault of the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 by posting the third fastest lap speed with James Hinchliffe leading an Andretti 1-2 to set the pace by topping the first day of practice.
Hinchcliffe was one of only three drivers all day to break the 224mph barrier by laying down a 224.526 mph lap in the final open session.
Marco Andretti suffered an electrical issue earlier in the day, his car shutting off from underneath him as he gently rolled back to pitlane. But the Andretti Autosport team were quickly on the repairs and sent their driver back out in the final session to post the second quickest time of the day with a 224.345.
2008 Indy 500 champion Dixon set a thundering 224.047mph in the opening session designated for veterans to beat out title protagonist Josef Newgarden in the #1 Penske by 0.85mph. The Kiwi’s time would be enough to end the day as the third quickest overall.
Like Hinchcliffe’s benchmark speed, Dixon, Newgarden and Andretti all benefitted enormously by the slipstream of cars ahead, something not a feature in qualifying, but the Kiwi’s speed demonstrated the Chip Ganassi Racer is a likely contender for pole come Sunday.
The best ‘non-tow’ lap was set by Alexander Rossi who has had a turbulent start to his 2020 campaign with the former winner of the 500 setting a 221.952 mph lap time.
Will Power had a strong day focusing on long runs. The 2018 Indy 500 champion set a 30-lap average of 220.311 mph to be almost an entire mile-per-hour quicker than his next rival in the form of Penske teammate Newgarden.
Teams and drivers also had today to acclimatise to the all-new aeroscreen and cooling package which has never been run on the storied Indianapolis Motor Speedway before and offering their own unique challenges.
“The aeroscreen, when we first tested it, it seemed like it kind of affected the car a little different aerodynamically,” Dixon said after his opening outing.
“I’d say today actually felt more normal. No real difference, vision is good.
“First practice doesn’t mean anything. We are just trying to get the car comfortable in traffic and so far, it seems pretty good.”
Elsewhere, Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevrolet’s newbie Rinus VeeKay was the only driver to top the 220mph bracket in the two-hour Rookies and refreshers Orientation session.
Fernando Alonso was fifth fastest overall having turned 75 laps across the day as the two-time Formula 1 world champion get his first taste driving for Schmidt Peterson Motorsport, narrowly beaten by fellow motor racing legend Helio Castroneves who makes his 20th Indy 500 start later this month.
Drivers who have open practice sessions over the coming days in the lead up to qualifying on Sunday morning before the main race takes place on August 24 from 5 am NZT.