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100th Indy 500 practice officially kicks off today

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INDIANAPOLIS – Opening day of practice for the 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil takes place today, in two phases.

First up is the rookie orientation and refresher programs, which run from 12 to 2 p.m.

The five rookies entered – Max Chilton and Alexander Rossi plus Spencer Pigot, Matthew Brabham and Stefan Wilson – will have to complete three phases of running once on track:

  • 10 laps of 210 to 215 mph
  • 15 laps of 215 to 220 mph
  • 15-plus laps of 220-plus mph

Others listed by INDYCAR who are eligible to participate in the refresher program includes those remaining non full-time drivers. Those seven drivers include Townsend Bell, Bryan Clauson, JR Hildebrand, Sage Karam, Buddy Lazier, Oriol Servia and Alex Tagliani.

Servia, Tagliani and Hildebrand have a start apiece this year while the other four drivers will make their first laps in an IndyCar since last May.

Practice for all cars runs from 2 to 6 p.m. ET.

It’s already warmed up from the high 30s ambient temperature to the low 50s, with a projected high of 64 degrees ambient this afternoon.

Running updates will follow in this post depending on how the day progresses.

10:50 a.m.: One new number and one new livery to report on, as well as a formal unveil of the Indianapolis 500 entry list.

Formal confirmation has come of Charlie Kimball’s new number, 42, for the rest of the month of May. Kimball was joined by Kyle Larson, who among other things teased Chip Ganassi about wanting to run the Indianapolis 500 someday but said he’d have needed Ganassi to ask about it first. More here from NASCAR TALK.

Munoz500_16Meanwhile Carlos Munoz is another in the new livery department, with United Fiber & Data set to serve as primary sponsor of his No. 26 Honda at Andretti Autosport. From a release: “Music and fast cars go hand-in-hand and nothing says rock n’ roll more than the Indy 500,” said multi-platinum guitarist Chad Taylor of the band LIVE. “It’s going to be fun to see what Carlos can do, he’s proven to be a strong competitor on ovals, and having already won an Indy 500 ring with Ryan Hunter Reay… I’m thirsty for some more milk. No doubt this sport is addictive and having the band LIVE on the car is an honor.”

2:10 p.m.: The first couple hours of practice are over, with rookie orientation and refresher programs underway and 505 laps completed.

However the original target speeds for ROP would be lowered: they’re now 10 laps in the range of 205-210 mph, 15 laps between 210-215 mph and 15 laps at 215-plus mph.

Chilton, Rossi and Pigot completed all three phases of ROP, with Wilson and Brabham completing the first two phases.

Brabham’s No. 61 PIRTEK Team Murray Chevrolet was delayed going out until 90 minutes into the session with the crew back working on the car in Gasoline Alley. The time was extended to allow Brabham to complete the second phase.

Townsend Bell in the No. 29 California Pizza Kitchen/Robert Graham Honda for Andretti Autosport posted the best speed of the first two hours at 224.179 mph.

Others besides Bell who participated in the refresher portion of the program included Bryan Clauson, Sage Karam, JR Hildebrand and Oriol Servia.

Seven cars (Carlos Munoz, Ed Carpenter, Josef Newgarden, Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball, Will Power, Simon Pagenaud) went out in the opening five minutes of the session with installation laps.

Helio Castroneves attempted an installation lap of his own but slowed on the front straight, which brought out the only five minutes of yellow flag time during the session.

Here were speeds after the first two hours of practice.

IndyDay1ROP

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.