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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.

Relive the 1911 Indy 500 in living color

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Race fans and historians will have an opportunity to relive the 1911 Indy 500 in color this Sunday, November 25 at 8 p.m. ET.

Airing on the Smithsonian Channel as part of their America in Color series, a colorized version of the first Indy 500 highlights a race that began a tradition more than 100 years old.

The Indy 500 helped establish the auto racing industry and part of the episode deals with the lives of the Ford, Firestone and Edison families.

On board mechanics were a fixture of racing at the time – in part because they also served as spotters. On Lap 90 Joe Jagersberger (running three laps down at the time) broke a steering mount and his rider tumbled onto the track, causing Harry Knight to careen into the pits – which had no wall separating it from the track. Remarkably, no one was killed.

The documentary describes how Ray Harroun likely won because of his use of a rear view mirror that allowed him to drive without an on board mechanic. Innovation in that inaugural race set the tone for racing today.

Harroun beat Ralph Mumford by a margin of 103 seconds in a race that took six hours, 42 minutes to run.