(IndyCar.com is providing a daily “Indy 500 Live” report from practice for the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. Follow along here with updates throughout each day.)
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana – The opening day of practice for the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil started at high noon today with five minutes allotted for all teams to run installation check laps on their cars under yellow-flag conditions.
At 12:05 p.m., the track went green for rookie orientation and veteran refresher testing. The rookie orientation program consists of 10 laps in the range of 205-210 mph, followed by 15 laps at 210-215 mph and then 15 laps at 215-plus mph. The veteran refresher consists of 10 laps in the 210-215 range followed by 15 laps in the 215-plus range. Laps for each phase do not need to be run consecutively.
Two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso completed his rookie orientation during a private test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 3. The other 2017 Indy 500 rookies – Ed Jones, Jack Harvey and Zach Veach – are slated to go through their program today. Veterans expected to take the refresher course are Jay Howard, Pippa Mann, Sebastian Saavedra and Oriol Servia.
Jones, driving the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda for Dale Coyne Racing, completed the first phase of his rookie test by 12:17 p.m. Howard, in the No. 77 Lucas Oil/Team One Cure Honda for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, completed the first phase of the veteran refresher at 12:29 p.m.
Jones completed the second phase of rookie orientation at 12:51 p.m. and the final phase at 1:08 p.m., clearing him to drive the rest of the month. At 12:58 p.m., Howard completed the remainder of the veteran refresher test.
Jack Harvey, in the No. 50 Michael Shank Racing with Andretti Autosport Honda, completed Phase 1 of the rookie program at 1:14 p.m.
Rahal visits with middle school students at Purdue’s MSTEM3 Student Fair
With middle school and high school students visiting Indianapolis Motor Speedway this week, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver Graham Rahal took time this morning to speak at Purdue University’s MSTEM3 Student Fair.
“I’m excited that we get the chance to talk to those kids because they could be the future engineers and everything else in this sport,” said Rahal, driver of the No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda in this year’s Indianapolis 500. “I think back to when I was in middle school and I probably didn’t think math was the coolest thing ever, but you have to open their eyes to this stuff. Because those it does click with, they’re the ones that we need out here in the future as this (racing) goes on.”
Bauman and Gyllenhaal to serve as co-honorary starters
Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced this morning that Boston Marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman and actor/producer Jake Gyllenhaal will be the honorary starters for the 101st Indianapolis 500 on May 28. Gyllenhaal will star as Bauman in the upcoming film “Stronger,” based on Bauman’s New York Times best-selling book detailing his account of the April 2013 tragedy. The film debuts September 22, 2017. Bauman and Gyllenhaal will be the first duo to wave the green flag in the history of the race.
“We’re honored to welcome Jake Gyllenhaal and Jeff Bauman to send the field of 33 starters into Turn 1 for ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,’” said Doug Boles, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president. “It’s fitting that our fans will join Jake in honoring an incredible hero like Jeff on Memorial Day weekend, as it’s a time when all Americans honor those who have made tremendous sacrifices for our nation.”
Practice opens to full field
Full-field practice began at 2 p.m. as the track was opened to all 33 entries for the 101st Indianapolis 500. At 2:16 p.m., Saavedra completed his veteran refresher program in the No. 17 AFS/Juncos Racing Chevrolet.
After a series of debris cautions, Harvey brought out the caution when he made contact with the Turn 2 SAFER Barrier at 3:59 p.m. Harvey was uninjured but his No. 50 Honda sustained right-side damage.
“It’s been a pretty challenging day for what was meant to be an easy process," Harvey said. "We had some issues this morning, but we had managed to work through them. I don’t know what did happen apart from I went to turn in and it went straight. I was coming out of the pits, I wasn’t even going fast. I was probably not even going 100 mph. So bizarre. We had just done a long run and had pitted because there was a yellow flag and then had that. A random. Hopefully it’s the last time we come to the medical center.”
At that point, Tony Kanaan had posted the top lap of the day, at 223.936 mph in the No. 10 NTT Data Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing.
Brown, O’Gara join No. 40 effort for Veach, AJ Foyt Racing
As AJ Foyt Racing’s Zach Veach makes his Indianapolis 500 debut this month in the No. 40 Indy Women in Tech Championship Chevrolet, he will be led by a pair of respected men on his timing stand. Andy Brown, who has four Indy 500 wins as an engineer, will serve as race engineer
“The addition of Andy to our engineering department, even if only for a month, is a great fit for our team,” said Larry Foyt, team president of AJ Foyt Racing. “Andy has worked with top teams in the past and he has been integral to their success. His close friendship with our Technical Director Will Phillips made this deal possible and we are thrilled.”
Andy O’Gara will be the car’s chief mechanic and race strategist. O’Gara, married to retired Indy car driver and current series pace car driver Sarah Fisher, returns to the same role he held last year for Alex Tagliani with AJ Foyt Racing. O’Gara previously served as a team manager and race strategist for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing and CFH Racing.
Rahal issue brings out yellow
The yellow flag flew at 5:22 p.m. for the No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda of Graham Rahal (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing), which showed smoke trails on the back straightaway.
The remainder of the afternoon went without incident as the checkered flag flew at 6 p.m. At the conclusion, the five fastest drivers were:
Defending Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi (No. 98 NAPA Auto Parts/Curb Andretti Herta Autosport Honda) was 13th on the day, with a fast lap of 223.481 mph.
Cars will return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 2.5-mile oval at noon ET Tuesday, with the track open until 6 p.m. Live streaming of all practice sessions leading up to this weekend’s qualifications is available at RaceControl.IndyCar.com.