The month of May got off to an unofficial start on Monday as full-time drivers in the Verizon IndyCar Series took to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first test session ahead of the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500.
Following the seven-hour session, AJ Foyt Racing’s Tony Kanaan set the fastest overall lap of the day with a time of 39.79 seconds. Kanaan was also the fastest car on track when not running in tow, clocking in a time of 40.315 seconds.
“It was a beautiful day out there. Got a lot of laps in, a lot of learning to do,” said Kanaan after the second test session of the day.
Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud was also quick, registering the second fastest lap with a time of 36.83 seconds in tow.
“We did a lot of work today. It was really a good day of testing. Great day, great conditions for testing, as well. Universal aero kit is quite different. It behaves quite a bit different to what we’ve been used to the last few years,” Said Pagenaud after a busy first day at the speedway.
Defending Indianapolis 500 champion Takuma Sato was 15th quickest overall setting a time of 40.26 seconds in tow. However, the Japanese driver was a much faster sixth when running outside the draft.
Monday’s test session provided ample track time for teams to try out the new universal aero kit in its oval/speedway configuration for the first time.
“I think the car is going to race really, really well. I am definitely pleased with what I saw. Overall, I think it is going to be plenty quick. It’s still early days for sure, but all signs point us in the right direction,” said Graham Rahal in regards to the new aero kit.
Following the official test session on Monday, Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden had an opportunity to turn some laps with IndyCar’s new windscreen attached to his #1 Verizon Chevrolet.
“It was fascinating. It was totally different for an open-wheel car. You’re not used to having a windscreen that big in front of you, but it was interesting to try it out,” Newgarden said after testing the windscreen for the first time. “There’s small improvements to be made, especially with the clarity with the visors and the perception to see through it. It was easy to make it work, I didn’t have any major issues with it.”
The windscreen is being developed by series officials as a means of protecting drivers from flying debris during races.
Up next at Indianapolis will be a test on Tuesday for rookie drivers and those not presently racing full-time. The session will provide these drivers an opportunity to get up to speed on their own terms, without having to compete for track time with some the series’ more seasoned veterans.
Tuesday’s test session will also include the highly anticipated return of Danica Patrick to IndyCar, for the first time in seven years. Patrick will be driving the #13 GoDaddy Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing, in what will be the last race of her storied career.