IRL: Rookies take first laps on Indy 500 Opening Day

IRL: Rookies take first laps on Indy 500 Opening Day

The track opened for practice today as teams and drivers prepare to contest the 89th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on the famed 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval. Danica Patrick. Photo by Dan Helrigel - IRL. Today and tomorrow...

The track opened for practice today as teams and drivers prepare to contest the 89th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on the famed 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval.

Danica Patrick.
Photo by Dan Helrigel - IRL.
Today and tomorrow are delegated for Rookie Orientation Program and there are eight first-timers on the grounds hoping to discover the quick way around this tricky flat circuit.

First out on the track was Danica Patrick, fresh from her fourth place finish in Japan. After a long break, she completed her ROP program by 3:15PM and logged a quick lap of 217.811mph before being told by IndyCar Series officials that she could practice at will.

"I've been given a good car so I don't have to do much. All day I just built speed, built speed and I'm having a good time of it. So far, so good," the Toyota Atlantic graduate explained.

Among the gang of eight are five full-time Indy Racing League IndyCar Series drivers: Ryan Briscoe driving the #33 Target Panoz/Toyota/Firestone entry from Chip Ganassi's stables; Patrick Carpentier's #83 Red Bull Cheever Racing Dallara/Toyota; the #91 Ethanol/Hemelgarn Dallara/Toyota for Menards Infiniti Pro Series graduate Paul Dana; Tomas Enge's #2 RockStar/Panther Dallara/Chevrolet and Danica Patrick's Rahal Letterman Racing #16 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Panoz/Honda.

In addition, ROP features 2004 Champ Car World Series titleholder Sebastien Bourdais in a #37 Team Centrix Panoz/Honda from Newman Haas Racing; Jeff Bucknum's #44 Investment Properties of America Dallara/Honda and a #41 Dallara/Toyota from A.J. Foyt Racing for Scott Mayer.

It's a beautiful day in central Indiana with hazy skies, warm temperatures that should approach the 80-degree mark and moderate winds blowing.

The Rookie Orientation Program has four phases: drivers complete 10 laps each between 195-200mph, 200-205mph, 205-210mph and ten laps over 210mph.

Because they have extensive open wheel racing experience on ovals, neither Patrick Carpentier nor Sebastien Bourdais are permitted to run more than the 40 laps designed to acquaint first-timers with the nuances at the Brickyard.

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Series INDYCAR