Andretti Tops 1st Indianapolis 500 Practice, leads AAS Sweep

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Andretti Autosport’s Marco Andretti topped the opening Indianapolis 500 practice session with a best lap speed of 228.978 miles per hour, the highest opening day speed in the new DW-12 chassis. He led a top 4 Andretti Autosport sweep, with Carlos Munoz, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Alexander Rossi rounding out the top 4.

Scott Dixon, the defending and 4-time Verizon Indycar Series champion, broke up the top 5 Andretti Autosport party late in the 4-hour session by being 5th quickest on the day, bumping Andretti Autosport’s Townsend Bell to 6th quickest on the day.

Overall, the day showed great promise for the teams and drivers of the Honda-powered cars, as they took 8 of the top 10 spots on the speed charts, including the top 4 and 5 of the top 6. The fastest driver of a Honda-powered car (Marco Andretti, 1st place, 228.978 miles per hour) was over 2 miles per hour quicker of the fastest driver of a Chevrolet-powered car (Scott Dixon, 5th place, 226.835).

Team Penske, the team that has dominated this Verizon Indycar Series thus far this season and that won the Indianapolis 500 a year ago with Juan Pablo Montoya, had the 9th fastest (Will Power), 13th fastest (Juan Pablo Montoya), 16th fastest (championship leader Simon Pagenaud), and 27th fastest (Helio Castroneves) drivers in the opening session in Chevrolet-powered race cars.

In the 2-hour rookie orientation and refresher test to start off the day, Andretti Autosport’s Townsend Bell was the fastest driver with a lap at 224.179 miles per hour. There were 5 Honda-powered cars in the session and 5 Chevrolet-powered cars, and Honda ended up having the drivers with the top 2 speeds and 5 of the top 8 speeds in the session.

However, it is still too early to assume that the Honda cars will dominate this month like the Chevrolet cars did a year ago. Not only are we 13 days away from the race itself, and not only are we talking about practice, but we are talking about opening practice of an event whose outcome has to do with what happens over a 500 mile race on Sunday, May 29th, and nothing else. Today was simply a good indicator that Honda’s should be a lot more competitive this season that they were a year ago, when Chevrolet won the Indianapolis 500 and swept the top 4 spots after having 6 drivers qualify for the race in the top 7.

Practice for the 100th running of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway resumes tomorrow from 12:00 PM ET to 6:00 PM ET. There will be practice throughout the rest of the week at this time each day until Friday, May 20th. Qualifications for the race are on Saturday, May 21st, and Sunday, May 22nd.

-Asher Fair