Takuma Sato ran a lap of 228.939 mph in the final five minutes on Tuesday to lead the opening day of practice for the 106th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.
Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner, Sato, used the advantage of an aerodynamic drag on the 2.5-mile oval to lead the speed maps by more than 1 mph in the No. 51 Nurtec ODT Honda. Six-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion Scott Dixon was second with 227,768 in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, with four Chip Ganassi Racing drivers in the top six.
“We had a big drag,” Sato said. “In Happy Hour, if you have new tires I think you can do that. I’m quite happy today.
“Honestly, this morning didn’t go as smoothly as we would have liked. We had to go back to the garage to check a lot of things because there was something we weren’t very happy with. But eventually we got up to speed quickly in the afternoon. I am very happy with the 51 car. Dale Coyne Racing has done a good job.”
Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson opened up preparations for his first start in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” by finishing third at 227,722 in the No. 48 Carvana Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Johnson was an NTT INDYCAR SERIES rookie last season, but only competed in road and street courses. He made his INDYCAR oval debut on March 20 at Texas Motor Speedway.
“We have a really good race car,” Johnson said. “For me it’s just trying to work through extremes. What is a low trim setting? What is a high trim setting? What is mechanically tight? What is mechanical free? I’m just trying to process some of those big things.
“All in all a very nice day. I feel like where we’ve ended up in this session gives me a lot of confidence to move forward.”
Marcus Ericsson was fourth with 227,094 in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing, with Rinus VeeKay rounding out the top five with 226,995 in the Bitcoin Racing Team No. 21 with BitNile Chevrolet.
Reigning NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion Alex Palou completed Chip Ganassi Racing dominance from the top of the speed map, finishing sixth with 226,973 in the #10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.
The veteran training was divided into two sessions, with two hours of running in the morning and three hours in the afternoon. Dixon was the fastest this morning with 227,119.
VeeKay was the fastest driver without aerodynamic drag, with a solo top speed of 221.551 mph. Ed Carpenter came in second on the no-tow list with 220,869 in the No. 33 Overall Neuro Chevrolet, with Johnson third with 220,724.
Thirty-three drivers together completed 3,229 incident-free laps under sunny skies during today’s two experienced practice sessions. Veteran Stefan Wilson completed his refresher test during an afternoon session in the No. 25 DragonSpeed/Cusick Motorsports Chevrolet and then briefly participated in the open afternoon practice.
Dalton Kellett completed 149 laps in the No. 4 K-LINE AJ FOYT RACING Chevrolet, more than any other driver.
Training resumes Wednesday (live on Peacock Premium) from 12:00 PM to 6:00 PM (ET), with PPG Presents Armed Forces Qualification this Saturday and Sunday. The 106th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge is scheduled for Sunday, May 29.
NTT IndyCar Series PR