All month long, our racing guru David Scoggan is blogging LIVE from the track! Check back here regularly for a dose of Dave’s wit and whimsy.
Team Penske drivers Will Power and Simon Pagenaud used the draft of numerous other cars to post eye-popping speeds of almost 230 MPH on the first day of Indy 500 practice. Power’s 229.746 and Pagenaud’s 229.703 at 4:29 were a full one MPH clear of fellow Chevy runner Ed Carpenter’s 228.653, which was also aided by tows from other cars.
“That was a big lap, a big tow,” stated Pagenaud, “that was a lot of fun!” Power commented that, “It’s a different tire, a different setup than what we had last year. (The entire 2 1/2-mile oval has been seal-coated since the 2018 event.)
Rounding out the top ten — all helped by tows — were: Helio Castroneves (Chevy) 228.441; rookie Colton Herta (Honda) 228.284; Sebastien Bourdais (H) 228.242; Zach Veach (H) 228.133; Alexander Rossi (H) 228.061; Marco Andretti (H) 228.000; and Ed Jones (C) 227.966, but also the fastest unaided “No-Tow” lap of 224.542 MPH.
Herta had the only incident of the day and it was relatively minor. At 5:23, he spun in the pit lane as he accelerated onto the backstretch. The car blew the left rear tire during the spin and was loaded onto a flatbed truck, but returned to action before the day ended. “It was not fun,” Herta stated. “I just bit off a little more than I could chew.”
All 36 entries practiced today, with James Hinchcliffe taking laps in all four Arrow-Schmidt related cars (#5, 7, 60, 77). Max Chilton test-hopped teammate Pato O’Ward’s #31 car after mechanical gremlins deterred the completion of Pato’s rookie test. The track opens for action at 11:00 tomorrow.