IRL: Andrettis fastest on Indy 500 Opening Day

Three generations of Andrettis, Mario, Michael and Marco, marked opening day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway by taking a ceremonial lap around the historic 2.5-mile speedway. By the end of the day, Michael and Marco Andretti sat atop the speed...

Three generations of Andrettis, Mario, Michael and Marco, marked opening day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway by taking a ceremonial lap around the historic 2.5-mile speedway. By the end of the day, Michael and Marco Andretti sat atop the speed charts with the elder Andretti setting the fastest lap of the day. With minutes to spare before the checkered flag was shown Michael Andretti circled the speedway at an averaged of 220.999 mph, nipping his son by 0.0789 seconds to lead the first day of practice.

The Rookie Orientation Program, held during the first two days of practice, has veteran drivers Michael Andretti and Al Unser Jr. using the opportunity to refresh their skill set on the ultra-fast oval. Michael Andretti recorded 51 laps while Al Unser Jr., who did not report to the track until the final hour of practice, only completed 9 laps.

Marco Andretti, who turned 85 laps, the most of the day, was second fastest on the speed chart. "I think it started out pretty good," said Marco. "At some points I was quicker than they wanted."

Marco passed his rookie test, allowing him to run as fast as he felt comfortable. "I was certainly happy when I found out I passed my rookie test. I wanted to pass it early so we could spend the day working on the car and the set up. That paid off as the younger Andretti recorded his best lap at 220.572 mph.

Out of the six drivers that took to the Speedway today, P.J. Chesson turned 53 laps with his best at 214.302 mph. Chesson, who also passed his rookie test, remarked that Indianapolis was the most unique track he had ever seen. "I never ran a Pro Series car here so these are my first laps here," said Chesson. "We're going to go out again tomorrow and just keep doing what we're doing and hopefully we'll get to where we need to be."

Chesson noted that his only laps around the Speedway prior to today were aboard one of the Hall of Fame Museum tour buses.

Arie Luyendyk Jr. managed a best lap of 206.468 mph due to limited track time. "We only had about an hour," said Luyendyk Jr. "I'm a little disappointed in the speed but we are basically chasing a big push. We'll get there tomorrow, we've got a full day of running and we've got all the bugs worked out."

With 45 minutes remaining in practice, Al Unser Jr. drove his No. 31 Dreyer & Reinbold entry onto the track to get a feel for the car. "Now's not the time to go out and try and run any lap times, go wide open or try any trick stuff." After turning a total of nine laps, Unser Jr. said that his Honda engine, "is the strongest IRL engine I've ever run around here."

Despite running just nine laps, Unser Jr's best lap was recorded at 206.387 mph.

Townsend Bell's car sprayed water during the only lap it completed today, bringing out a yellow flag. The car was towed to the garage area and did not return to pit lane.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Michael Andretti , Townsend Bell , Marco Andretti , P.J. Chesson , Arie Luyendyk Jr.