Photo: IndyCar

Marco Andretti tops opening day of Indy 500 practice

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INDIANAPOLIS – One Andretti Autosport driver dominated the headlines and another topped the speed charts in the opening day of 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil practice.

Marco Andretti was fastest on the day with a best speed of 226.338 mph at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, driving the No. 27 United Fiber & Data Honda.

That speed is down a bit from last year’s first day, because temperatures were up. After starting in the mid-to-high 70 degree range, it’s now risen into the mid-to-high 80 degree bracket.

Tony Kanaan, in the No. 10 NTT Data Honda,posted the fastest no-tow speed of 223.554 mph.

Four of the six Andretti drivers – the four full-season entries – completed their first “mini race” of the month in the final 10 minutes of practice.

The story of the two one-off additions, however, were interesting side notes.

Fernando Alonso paced the Rookie Orientation Program and refresher program in the morning, and then ran another 20 laps in the afternoon in his No. 29 McLaren Honda Andretti entry.

Meanwhile, Jack Harvey’s day was cut short with the first incident of the month in the No. 50 Michael Shank Racing with Andretti Autosport entry, exiting Turn 2.

Graham Rahal also had an issue today with smoke billowing out the back of his No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda in the final hour of practice.

Times and speeds are below. More to follow.

Hamilton, Red Bull teammates both go to NASA before USGP

Photo: Red Bull Content Pool
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One of the more intriguing United States Grand Prix adventures occurred on Wednesday, as both Lewis Hamilton and the pair of Red Bull Racing teammates, Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, all went to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston – in separate sessions – before heading onto Austin.

Hamilton posted on his Instagram story on Wednesday that he’d “quit his day job in a second” to work at NASA and become an astronaut, and the unbridled enthusiasm spoke to the three-time Formula 1 World Champion’s love of different life aspects entirely outside of racing.

“(I) had an incredible day yesterday, having a bit of a comedown today,” Hamilton said today at the FIA Press Conference. “I was just buzzed all day yesterday because it’s always been something I’ve wanted to do. It’s always something I’ve been fascinated about, space and space travel particularly.

“So to actually go there… and I had a million questions. I’m sure the guy got fed up with me. I asked a lot of questions and I got to see a lot of great things, some of the new technology they are working on and yeah, I want to go back.”

The Mercedes AMG Petronas team posted a gallery of Hamilton’s adventure on its website, linked here, and a few samples are below.

As for the Red Bull pair, the young duo of Ricciardo and Verstappen were equally awestruck by the experience.

“There really are a lot of similarities between this and F1, just the technology alone,” Ricciardo said. “I had a guest come to a race last year, when they got into the garage they were like: ‘this is like a space station’. We went to mission control here and it’s really like what we have in the Ops Room in Milton Keynes. Even the safety technology is similar. The astronauts go through the same measurements, a similar kind of HANS device etc. It’s really cool.”

Verstappen added, “There are quite a lot of comparisons, if you really want to talk about it we could go on for an hour! The control center looks pretty similar to ours. We share a lot of the same technology. It was really interesting for us to see that and I bet it would be the same if they could see ours.”

Here’s a link to Red Bull’s gallery and some teaser shots below.