4,318 laps around the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway, by 32 different drivers for 11 different teams. That is what we saw over the past two days as cars tested around the 2.5 mile oval in preparation for next month’s Indianapolis 500. Who excelled? What happened? Who has the advantage? Read on to find out all about the Indy Open Test.
Pit Exit Shenanigans?
All three testing sessions on Wednesday afternoon were overshadowed by a strange situation on pit exit just inside Turn 1. Alexander Rossi, Helio Castroneves, and Will Power all spun out after exiting pit road, with Castroneves’ testing session coming to an end after he smacked the wall at turn two. Rossi and Power, two previous 500 winners, got luckier and avoided contact with the wall. Power almost collected Herta as he spun late on Wednesday. Early Thursday morning, IMS President Doug Boles joined the broadcast booth and answered questions about the incidents, attributing the issues to penetrant that was laid down on both the pit entry and exit over the offseason. Boles noted that crews were out on track until 1 A.M, dragging tires to add grip to the lane. Thursday’s rain-delayed session went without any major incidents, despite Simon Pagenaud noting the previous grip issues were “still going on.”
During his interview on Sirius XM, Boles also stated that around the pit exit there was ‘25% less grip’ than the racetrack. The IMS President noted that by the time the Month of May rolls around, all grip issues should be fixed.
Two Rainy Days in Indy
The Central Indiana weather reared its ugly head on both days of the Indy Open Test, pushing both sessions past their intended start time. On Wednesday, light showers popped up around the track, pushing the start time 30 minutes back. On Thursday, overnight rain lingered and left the track wet, pushing Thursday’s running back 4 hours. However, after clouds hovered over the facility for much of Thursday morning, sunny conditions made for quicker laps, as Jimmie Johnson and Simon Pagenaud noted in their press conferences Thursday evening. Johnson, making his official IMS debut, mentioned that the improvement of the weather compared to Wednesday made for ‘quality reps.’ The rest of the field enjoyed the warmer conditions as well, as everyone who ran in Thursday’s session improved on their previous best. Championship leader Josef Newgarden set the fastest lap over the two days, clocking in just shy of 230 at 229.519.
Ganassi 1 – Everyone Else 0
While final results show that Newgarden and Takuma Sato bested the field, another look shows a different story. Most of the quick times on the leaderboard were ran in the final hour of Thursday’s session, but as for the rest of the session, Chip Ganassi Racing and its squad of five drivers were putting in better times than any other team on track. 2013 winner, Tony Kanaan, was the leader for Ganassi, finishing the session in 3rd with a 228.767. Last year’s polesitter Scott Dixon was just behind the Brazilian in 4th, with reigning series champion Alex Palou in 7th. Jimmie Johnson wheeled his No. 48 machine into 8th, with the final Ganassi car of Marcus Ericsson rounding out the top 10. Talking about Thursday’s session, Johnson said of the Ganassi team ‘as long as the session is green, we’re all trying to be the fastest car out there.’
Who Else Showed Out?
As for other notable results, St. Petersburg winner Scott McLaughlin came in 5th with a 228.397 while gearing up for his 2nd 500 appearance. 2020 polesitter Marco Andretti came in just behind the Kiwi, with his teammate Romain Grosjean a few spots back in 16th. Colton Herta, who appeared on the front row in last year’s race, struggled with speed all week and could only muster up 224.786 as he sits all the way back in 29th. Running only 67 laps throughout all sessions was 2-time 5oo champion Juan Pablo Montoya, who failed to run a lap over 224, putting his McLaren in dead last of the Indy Open Test.
Stay tuned for more IndyCar action, as the series travels to Alabama’s Barber Motorsports Park on May 1st. After that, it is time to kick off the Month of May, all leading up to the 106th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on May 29th.
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