By: Spencer Neff
April 20, 2022
Ahead of next month’s 106th running of the Indianapolis 500, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES headed to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana for its annual two-day Open Test.
32 entries have been announced for this year’s race and each one got time on track today. Three distinct sessions were scheduled for the first of two days on track.
Scott Dixon leads Veteran Opener
After being delayed for 90 minutes, the 24 veteran drivers of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. The drivers participating full-time in the series or who have made an oval start since last year’s Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge were eligible to run. The day got off to an a bit of an ominous start however.
As the field began their installation laps, 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi spun on the warmup lane in the south chute. Despite narrowly missing the inside wall between Turns 1 and 2, the Andretti Autosport driver was towed back into pit lane soon after.
Rossi’s team was unaffected by the spin aside from losing a fresh set of tires as they were not planning on running during the opening session.
Once the day got started in earnest, Chevrolet showed early speed but it would be Chip Ganassi Racing and Scott Dixon leading the way. The 2008 Indianapolis 500 winner and four-time pole sitter turned a best lap of 225.622 miles per hour (39.8898 seconds) on the 2.5-mile oval.
Last year’s Rookie of the Year Scott McLaughlin was fastest among the Chevrolets, slotting in second, .2916 of a second back of Dixon in his Team Penske machine. Driving for his third team in as many seasons, 2019 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year Santino Ferrucci was third with Dreyer and Reinbold Racing.
McLaughlin did post the fastest non-tow speed (221.090 mph), which has often been a quality indicator of potential qualifying favorites.
2019 pole and race winner Simon Pagenaud was quickest among the Honda contingent (219.556). 21 of the 24 drivers turned a no-tow lap at speed.
Callum Ilott tops Rookie/Refresher Programs
A quarter of the participants in Wednesday and Thursday’s scheduled test were drivers needing to complete the mandated Rookie Orientation/Veteran Refresher Program.
Each rookie needs to complete 10 laps at 205-210 mph and 15 laps each at 210-215 and 215+. Veterans only need to complete the last two portions of that requirement.
When that session was done, Juncos Hollinger Racing’s Callum Ilott was P1 on the chart. The rookie turned a best lap of 222.184 mph (40.507 seconds).
Just .1052 of a second behind was Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport rookie Devlin DeFranceso, with his teammate Marco Andretti in third.
Ilott paced the field in his Chevrolet, with DeFeancesco leading Honda’s effort. Honda had won pole and the race for each of the last two Indianapolis 500s.
Dixon ends chaotic late session atop leaderboard
As the field was getting back to action from a brief track inspection yellow, four-time race winner Helio Castroneves spun on the exit of pit lane and made heavy contact with the Turn 2 wall. The right side of his Meyer Shank Racing Dallara-Honda was heavily damaged but the defending race winner climbed from his machine and walked away.
Less than 30 minutes later, the south end of the speedway became another trouble spot. Power spun on the access road in Turn 1 as he exited the pits. Unable to avoid him, Colton Herta spun in the south end of the track between Turns 1 and 2.
Following a 34-minute delay, INDYCAR made the decision to end the session shortly after the original 6:00 p.m. Eastern time.
Just as was the case in the first session, Dixon was quickest in the field. The 2021 pole winner clocked a best lap of 227.187 (39.615 seconds), .0352 of a second ahead of Ed Carpenter Racing’s Conor Daly, the quickest Chevrolet of the session.
On the no-tow chart, it was McLaughlin, Penske and Chevrolet on top again. This time, his best lap was run at 219.841 mph.
Just 25 cars completed a lap in the abbreviated final session.
With the first of two days completed, tomorrow’s session is scheduled to have all 32 drivers eligible for the entirety of the day.
Testing is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Eastern and run until 4 p.m. Stay with IndyCar1909 for the latest on this week’s Open Test.
Header Image By James Black/INDYCAR