IRL: Townsend Bell tops Indy rookie speed chart

Rookie orientation and refreshers for veterans continued at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Townsend Bell topping the speed charts with a lap at 221.381 mph. Bell, who only recorded one lap on Sunday, turned 67 laps today, the most of any ...

Rookie orientation and refreshers for veterans continued at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Townsend Bell topping the speed charts with a lap at 221.381 mph. Bell, who only recorded one lap on Sunday, turned 67 laps today, the most of any driver. "It's like a really fast road course," said Bell, comparing Indianapolis to the high-banked ovals where he's competed in the IndyCar Series. "It takes pretty good commitment to get it right, and I like that."

Michael Andretti posted a lap early in the session at 221.324 mph, narrowly missing Bell's best lap by 0.0004 seconds.

Marco Andretti's name appears twice on the day's speed chart after setting the third and fourth fastest laps of the day. Marco drove his blue No. 26 before switching to his father's No. 1 late in the afternoon. "I knew I had a really good race car and he wasn't real comfortable in his, so I thought it was a great opportunity for him to feel exactly what it should feel like," said Michael Andretti. The switch worked as Marco went 221.267 mph in his father's car, a tick faster than he had gone in his own car (220.709 mph).

PJ Chesson continued to show improvement throughout the day, turning his fastest laps in the last ten minutes of practice. His best of 219.245 mph was set just before the checkered flag was shown at 5:00 p.m.

Al Unser Jr., who rounded out the top five speeds of the day, also set his best lap just before the checkered was shown.

Using the opportunity to use the rookie program as a refresher, Larry Foyt turned his first laps of the month recording a best of 215.761 mph on his 56th tour of the 2.5-mile oval. "I had a speed in my head of what I wanted to be at but my dad (A.J. Foyt) kept saying not to worry about speed. It isn't about speed, it's about getting back in the car."

PDM Racing put Thiago Medeiros on track today for the first time with the young Brazilian turning a best of 214.690 mph in a car resembling something out of Dr. Frankenstein's laboratory. The engine cover and sidepods were best described as unpainted, with a blue nose cone featuring an uncoordinated red shock cover. The end plates on the rear wing were bright yellow, making the car look like a mismatch of parts. Undaunted by the car's odd looks, Medieros easily passed his rookie test and is clear to continue practicing at any speed he feels comfortable.

After raising the car's ride height to keep the car from bottoming out, Medeiros said he went back out to finish the last two phases of his rookie orientation. After completing the program, "we did a few more laps, 214 mph on the last one. We just didn't have anymore tires or miles to run, otherwise I think we could have gone even quicker."

Arie Luyendyk picked up an additional eight mph from his best lap on opening day, passing his refresher course, which consists of phase three and four of the rookie test, in the process.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Arie Luyendyk , Michael Andretti , Townsend Bell , Marco Andretti , A.J. Foyt , Thiago Medeiros