Andretti leads but speeds hard to read after Indy 500 first practice

Photo: IndyCar
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INDIANAPOLIS – Just like at April’s test, Marco Andretti led the timesheets in the first day of official practice for the 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.

And just like at April’s test, determining what Monday’s speeds actually mean after four hours of running – most of it in groups in the final hour and a half of the session – still remains to be seen.

Andretti led the speed charts in his No. 27 Snapple Honda, as part of an Andretti Autosport top four sweep. His best speed was 228.976 mph around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Teammates Carlos Munoz, Ryan Hunter-Reay and rookie Alexander Rossi followed in second through fourth, with the top three still in the 228-mph range and Rossi highest in the 226-mph bracket in his No. 98 Castrol Edge/Curb Honda. Rossi was impressed with the facility in his first day of running on the oval.

Munoz debuted United Fiber & Data blue and black colors on his No. 26 Honda while Hunter-Reay was solid as ever in his No. 28 DHL Honda.

Scott Dixon completed the top five overall on the day in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. Dixon, the defending race polesitter, set a best speed of 226.835 – same as Rossi did.

It was the fifth of the Andretti Autosport entries, however, in NBCSN IndyCar analyst Townsend Bell that led the no-tow speed charts, a greater indicator of outright single-lap pace before the boost gets turned up later this week. Bell was sixth on the overall charts at 226.724 mph and his best non-tow lap was 223.940 mph.

Andretti Autosport was one to four on those charts as well, with Andretti, Hunter-Reay and Munoz all north of 223 mph.

Andretti downplayed the speeds themselves during the post-practice press conference, noting that there’s not a ton to read into it, more to gain still from the rest of the runners and that the Honda aero kit is very similar year on year to what it was last year. It’s the Chevrolet kits that look more different year on year compared to last year.

The field of 33 cars – all of whom ran at least once on a busy, action-packed day under perfect mid-60-degree ambient temperatures – completed 1,474 incident-free laps.

The only yellow flags were for debris and track inspection.

Additionally, all five rookies – Rossi, Max Chilton, Spencer Pigot, Matthew Brabham and Stefan Wilson – completed all three phases of their Rookie Orientation Program and are good to go to participate in full practice the rest of the month.

The full speed charts are below, followed with the no-tow speed charts after that.

FULL SPEEDS

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NO TOW SPEEDS

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Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III