Photo: “Indianapolis 500 – Race Day” by momentcaptured1
By Dave Lewandowski
Reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Tony Kanaan was afforded the ceremonial first lap of the 2.439-mile, 14-turn Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, and quickly was joined by 24 other Verizon IndyCar Series drivers during the morning session of an Open Test.
It didn’t faze Kanaan that the lap in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car was unconventional – crossing the Yard of Bricks on the front straight in a clockwise direction. In fact, he said it was a thrill.
They’re back on the circuit from 2-5 p.m. (ET), with real-time Timing & Scoring on www.indycar.com . The first practice for the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis is May 8, with qualifications May 9 and the 82-lap race taking the green flag at 3:30 p.m. May 10.
Less than 24 hours later is the initial practice for the 98th Indianapolis 500 – in a counter-clockwise direction on the 2.5-mile oval.
Will Power, the pole sitter three days earlier for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car, topped the time chart with a lap of 1 minute, 11.2128 seconds as teams and drivers made multiple car adjustments to find that sweet spot.
Ryan Briscoe, driving the No. 8 NTT Data car for Ganassi Racing, was second (1:11.3133) and Sebastien Bourdais was third (1:11.3181) in the No. 11 Mistic KVSH Racing car.
“Driving the car it doesn’t feel strange because you’re focused on hitting your marks. But every time I’m on pit lane and looking at the cars going out it just doesn’t look right,” Briscoe said. “It’s just a lot of fun to drive and fun to be learning a new track.”
The new track received high marks, and once it gets tire rubber down through the race weekend race craft will come to the forefront.
“Passing is going to be really good because the brake zones are so big and heavy,” Briscoe added. “Turn 1 and down the Hulman Boulevard straight into Turn 7 will be big passing zones. You come out of Turn 4, sort of a medium-speed corner, and then flat out through a chicane going up through the gears almost as fast as the front straight into another big brake zone. You have those two corners and overall it’s really fast and flowing and lots of changes of direction.
“It’s early days, and qualifying in this field has been so close. On any given day anybody can be in front or the back, so I’m hoping that after a couple of poor qualifying rounds at Long Beach and Barber I can be some of the cream that rises to the top.”