Reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Tony Kanaan turned the ceremonial first lap of the new 2.439-mile, 14-turn Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, but he was quickly was joined by 24 other eager Verizon IndyCar Series drivers during an open test.
It didn’t faze the drivers that they were crossing the yard of bricks on the front straight in a clockwise direction.
“Driving the car it doesn’t feel strange because you’re focused on hitting your marks. But every time I’m on pit lane and looking at the cars going out it just doesn’t look right,” said Ryan Briscoe, who was second quickest overall at 1 minute, 9.6558 seconds in the No. 8 NTT Data Chevy for Ganassi Racing. “It’s just a lot of fun to drive and fun to be learning a new track.”
Five hours of track time provided drivers and teams an opportunity to get a baseline for the Grand Prix of Indianapolis practice sessions May 8, when lap times will be considerably more crucial. The three rounds of qualifications are May 9 and the standing start for the 82-lap race is at 3:43 p.m. on May 10.
Less than 24 hours later is the initial practice for the 98th Indianapolis 500—in a counter-clockwise direction on the 2.5-mile oval.
Reigning series champion Scott Dixon jumped to the top of the time chart on the last of his 46 laps in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevy at 1:09.5969, while Simon Pagenaud was third (1:09.7544) in the No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports Honda. Three-time Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves (1:10.0209) was fourth in the No. 3 Verizon Team Penske Chevy, and Ryan Hunter-Reay (1:10.0237) was fifth in the No. 28 DHL Honda for Andretti Autosport.
The top 19 cars were separated by less than a second.