A full day of running was put to good use by 33 NTT IndyCar Series drivers on Thursday in the Indy Open test led by Team Penske and Josef Newgarden.
With the last two hours of action filled with drivers chasing each other in race day high trim, Newgarden reached a peak of 237.023mph entering Turn 3 and used the pace in the draft to claim the fastest lap in the No. 2 Chevy, but he also found the pace on his own, setting the second fastest. No draws per day at 220.648, which bodes well for the two-time IndyCar champion when the series returns in May.
In the closing minutes of the day, Conor Daly shot to P2 in Ed Carpenter Racing’s No. 20 Chevy (227.466 mph), replacing Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon, who had long held the position in the No. 9 Honda (226.788 mph). per hour). Kyle Kirkwood maintained his impressive form recently with a lap that put the No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda in fourth (226.727 mph), and CGR’s Takuma Sato completed the overhaul in the No. 11 Honda (226.265 mph).
With rain forecast for Friday, IndyCar adjusted Thursday’s schedule to start earlier and give the veterans a two-hour session from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Reigning Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson led the field with a best lap of 224.330 mph in the No. 8 Chip. Ganassi Honda Racing.
The next session, intended for beginners and veterans who need refresher laps, saw Andretti Autosport’s Marco Andretti drive the nine-deep group with a lap of 221.569 mph in the No. 98 Andretti Honda. Each member of the group passed the mandatory stages and all beginners were allowed to participate in the afternoon session.
It was the 2-6:30 p.m. window that got interesting as high temperatures reached a high of 85 degrees and high winds unleashed 30 mph winds from all angles. Overall, most teams used the last session to collect more of the newly available downforce and sample its effects as they ran in the pack, but with the thin air and high winds, most drivers struggled to get a read on the car’s behavior in such unsettled conditions.
“We started with last year’s race and then added a couple of options,” Dixon told RACER. “We finished the run with everything. It will be interesting to see where everyone ends up in the race and how much stuff people put in.”
After the top five in Penske-Ganassi-Andretti, stars of the day were Stefan Wilson sixth and Ryan Hunter-Rea 14th as they both made their debuts with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, the sole Indy-only entrant in the test.
The only contact that occurred in the pit lane was when Callum Ilott was launched into the path of Rinus VeeKay; VeeKay hits the outside wall, but both drivers are unharmed. Ilott was assessed a five-minute penalty by the series.
It is scheduled to run on Fridays from 10am-4pm, weather permitting.
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