The Jay Graves Report

Drivers hit the track for first Indianapolis 500 Practice “Out The Gate”

Andretti posts fastest speed at Indianapolis 500 practice on Monday. Photo: The Republic

Monday afternoon the Indianapolis Motor Speedway opened it’s gates for the first time in May for the famed 2.5 mile oval course for the 101st Indianapolis 500 practice. The track was available for the past week but in the road course configuration for this past Saturday’s Indycar Grand Prix of Indianapolis which was dominated by Team Penske’s Will Power.

Monday was a big day for veterans of the track and rookies alike. The rookies and drivers who have not raced all year partook in rookie orientation which started at noon to refresh themselves. The rest of the drivers began logging their laps starting at 2 p.m. and had exactly four hours to get their first feel for the track as they begin to prepare for qualifying this weekend.

Track conditions were the warmest they’ve been the past week since the track opened for the Grand Prix. A mid-80’s day with no cloud in sight was as close to traditional Indy 500 conditions as it can get.

The two big stories of the day both came from the Andretti Autosport team, where third generation driver Marco Andretti topped the speed charts at over 226 MPH. Andretti who was the only one to break the 226 MPH barrier felt great after practice.

“We didn’t hit the track until later in the session due to all the adjustments we made through the day. Our team had a good idea of what we needed due to me testing Fernando’s car earlier this month.”

The aforementioned Fernando Alonso who is known for his successful Formula one career has decided to test out Indycar for the chance to win the Indianapolis 500. Alonso is joining the likes of Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch who have interrupted their seasons for a chance at racing immortality. With Monday being his second time in a Indycar, Alonso is still heavily leaning on help from others.

“Mario Andretti has been really helpful to me so far. He’s been telling me how to enter and exit corners, the different things about the track, and also how the Indycar drives so I have been leaning heavily on the help of others.”

With this only being the first practice you can only expect the speeds to rise just like the Indiana temperature as the days wind down to the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500.