Jimmie Johnson third on first day of Indy 500 practice behind Takuma Sato, Scott Dixon

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INDIANAPOLIS — Jimmie Johnson was just behind a pair of Indy 500 winners as Honda swept the top four spots on the opening day of practice for the 106th running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

Two-time Indianapolis 500 Takuma Sato turned the fastest lap (228.939 mph) at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, followed by a 227.768-mph lap by six-time series champion Scott Dixon (who won Indy in 2008).

Johnson ranked third fastest with a 227.722 mph lap on his 77th of 79 laps around the 2.5-mile oval.

PRACTICE SPEEDS: Morning session l Afternoon session l Overall

INDY 500 INFO: Start times, schedules, TV, stats, historical details about the race

“We have a really good race car,” the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch on the Peacock broadcast after the eight-hour session that run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. “This Carvana hot rod is running really well. And (the team is) just trying to work through extremes for me. What is a low trim setting? What is a high trim setting? What is mechanically tight? What is mechanically free?

“So just kind of working through some of those big-picture things.”

With a forecast for rain threatening a noon-6 p.m. practice Wednesday, Johnson said the team focused on “macro settings” on his No. 48 Dallara-Honda.

“We’re not sure if we’ll get on track (Wednesday), and we just wanted to close the loop on a few testing items that we had from the open test and what we tried in the sim,” he said. “So all in all, a really good day. I feel like where we ended in this session gives me a lot of confidence in where we need to work moving forward.”

Johnson said he spent most of the day in single-car runs “so I could feel some of these subtle changes we were making. It was nice to be out there on my own in a controlled environment.”

After slapping on new tires and filling up his fuel tank, Johnson said he spent the final 30 minutes in traffic.

“Really just kind of get the rhythm of things here,” said Johnson, whose father, Gary, is working as one of his spotters atop the roof (he gave him a wave while on track). “Very happy with the progress we made today.

“A few of the items that I liked in the open test, I was able to back that up and decide I really liked them here. Moving forward, I think we’ve got a really nice foundation to build off and a great way to start two weeks here at the Brickyard on the oval.”

Practice will continue Wednesday through Friday before qualifying Saturday and Sunday to set the 33-car starting lineup for the May 29 race (11 a.m. ET, NBC).

Despite being one of seven rookies in the field, Johnson has embraced expectations that he could win in his debut and join Mario Andretti and A.J. Foyt as the only winners of the Daytona 500 and Indy 500. A four-time winner of the Brickyard 400, Johnson finished a career-best sixth in his IndyCar oval debut March 20 at Texas Motor Speedway.

He definitely is with a contending team as Chip Ganassi Racing put all of its drivers in the top 10 Tuesday. After Dixon and Johnson, Marcus Ericsson was fourth, Alex Palou sixth and Tony Kanaan ninth.

Dixon said he didn’t interact much with Johnson but was unsurprised by his teammate’s performance.

“Kind of what I expected, to be honest,” Dixon said. “He was quick at the test. He feels obviously a lot more comfortable. I think he’s done a really good job each time he’s been here. He was fast all day.

“It’s probably more of him just getting used to the traffic and understanding the flow and then also I think the biggest difference for us here is probably the washout that he’s not used to from the Cup side. I think a lot of it here is just the timing, how to time the pass. I know they were focusing on just running in traffic as much as possible today and getting used to that.”

Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series triples to 34 races in 2023

Xtreme Outlaw Midget 2023
Xtreme Outlaw Series
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After hosting 10 rounds in 2022, the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series 2023 schedule will more than triple to 34 races. The 2022 season featured seven different winners in the first seven races, a female racer in Jade Avedisian as the only repeat winner and Zach Daum as the champion.

“Dirt Midget racing is a growing entity in American motorsports, and the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series presented by Toyota is proud to drive further into the growth of the division with both a diverse and lucrative schedule for 2023,” newly appointed Series Director Tyler Bachman said in a press release. “From the kickoff at our first indoor event, to each of the new tracks we’re set to visit next year, it’s a lineup we know both our teams and fans will enjoy.”

The championship purse fund has also more than double with an increase of $42,000 to $80,000 in 2023. The champion will win $25,000. Last year, Daum pocketed $10,000.

In addition, the series will offer tow money to the top 12 in points. Six drivers attempted to qualify for all 10 races in 2022 with 89 drivers attending.

The series will begin on March 10 at Southern Illinois Center in Du Quoin, Ill. and end the same place it did in 2022 at I-44 Riverside Speedway in Oklahoma City on October 15.

During the season, they will visit 21 tracks in 10 states.

Some highlights of the season include the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series pairing up with the World of Outlaws Sprint Cars in 2023 at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Mo. in April for the Outlaw Showdown and again in August for the Ironman 55 weekend, as well as the creation of a five-day Midget Speedweek.

The Midget Speedweek will immediately follow the Ironman 55 with a swing through Pennsylvania and New York.

Xtreme Outlaw Midget 2023 Schedule

Friday, March 10 | Southern Illinois Center | Du Quoin, Ill.
Saturday, March 11 | Southern Illinois Center | Du Quoin, Ill.
Friday, March 31 | Farmer City Raceway | Farmer City, Ill.

Saturday, April 1 | Farmer City Raceway | Farmer City, Ill.
Friday, April 14 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.
Saturday, April 15 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.

Friday, May 5 | Humboldt Speedway | Humboldt, Kan.
Saturday, May 6 | 81 Speedway | Park City, Kan.
Tuesday, May 23 | Millbridge Speedway | Salisbury, N.C.
Wednesday, May 24 | Millbridge Speedway | Salisbury, N.C.

Thursday, June 1 | Tri-City Speedway | Pontoon Beach, Ill.
Friday, June 2 | Wayne County Speedway | Wayne City, Ill.
Saturday, June 3 | Wayne County Speedway | Wayne City, Ill.

Friday, July 21 | TBA
Saturday, July 22 | Southern Illinois Raceway | Marion, Ill.
Friday, July 28 | TBA
Saturday, July 29 | Atomic Speedway | Chillicothe, Ohio
Sunday, July 30 | Brushcreek Motorsports Complex | Peebles, Ohio

Friday, August 4 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.
Sat, August 5 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.
Tuesday, August 8 | Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway | Newmanstown, Pa.
Wednesday, August 9 | Action Track USA | Kutztown, Pa.
Thursday, August 10 | Linda’s Speedway | Jonestown, Pa.
Friday, August 11 | TBA
Saturday, August 12 | Bridgeport Motorsports Park | Swedesboro, N.J.
Friday, August 25 | Davenport Speedway | Davenport, Iowa
Saturday, August 26 | Davenport Speedway | Davenport, Iowa

Friday, September 1 | Paragon Speedway | Paragon, Ind.
Saturday, September 2 | Paragon Speedway | Paragon, Ind.
Friday, September 15 | Jacksonville Speedway | Jacksonville, Ill.
Saturday, September 16 | Red Hill Raceway | Sumner, Ill.

Friday, October 13 | Port City Raceway | Tulsa, Okla.
Saturday, October 14 | I-44 Riverside Speedway | Oklahoma City, Okla.
Sunday, October 15 | I-44 Riverside Speedway | Oklahoma City, Okla.

* Co-sanctioned with POWRi