Verizon IndyCar Series

VICS: Karam Fastest In Limited Monday Practice

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After extended delays due to persistent sprinkles, 30 of the 34 Verizon Wireless IndyCar Series teams present in Sunoco Gasoline Alley turned laps on the first official day of practice for the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500-mile race Monday afternoon. Chip Ganassi Racing was the first team to make noise on the speed chart this week, as 20-year old Sage Karam led a CGR 1-2-3 with a 225.802 MPH pass on the 2.5 mile oval. 2o08 Indianapolis 500 winner Scott Dixon was second quick, followed by 2013 Indy champion Tony Kanaan in third, both also over 225 MPH.

After Chevrolet-powered cars dominated qualifying last week for the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, the Honda oval aerodynamic kit appears to be closer to the pace of the bow tie brigade, as Andretti Autosport placed three cars in the first ten led by Marco Andretti’s 225 MPH effort on Monday, good for fourth fastest on the day. Andretti teammates Carlos Munoz and Justin Wilson were also part of the fast ten for Honda, as was AJ Foyt Racing’s Takuma Sato.

After pacing the open test on May 3rd, Team Penske with the exception of Simon Pagenaud was relatively quiet on Monday. Pagenaud toured the oval 31 times with a fast lap of 222 MPH, while teammates Will Power, Helio Castroneves, and Juan Pablo Montoya solely took installation laps earlier in the session, but did not take to the track afterwards. Power, who won the Grand Prix of Indianapolis from the pole position on Saturday, was the fastest in the aero kit open test eight days ago, posting a lap in excess of 226.7 MPH.

CFH Racing’s Ed Carpenter, who will be pursuing an unprecedented, third straight Indy 500 pole position this weekend during time trials, was the busiest driver on track Monday, running 79 laps, while Graham Rahal who placed second on Saturday in the Grand Prix, posted the most laps for a Honda pilot with 77. KV Racing Technology’s Stefano Coletti, took to the IMS oval for the first time on Monday and successfully completed all three phases of his rookie orientation test, clearing him to participate. Coletti was unable to attend the aero kit test on May 3rd, due to visa issues in his native Monaco. Townsend Bell also took to the track for the first time this month for Dreyer & Reinbold-Kingdom Racing. Bell also missed the open test due to his full time racing commitments in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. The car was tested however,  by DRK team boss Davey Hamilton.

As for those yet to take to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval this month, Lazier Partners Racing’s Buddy Lazier was not ready to run on Monday. Also absent were AJ Foyt Racing’s Alex Tagliani and Jack Hawksworth, however the pace shown by Sato is a good sign when his two teammates take to the track, likely on Tuesday. Also there is the issue with the third and final seat at Dale Coyne Racing, which has yet to be assigned to a driver. The No. 19 Honda is reportedly down to three drivers: veterans James Davison and Katherine Legge along with Chinese rookie Ho-Pin Tung. Davison finished 16th last year in a late deal with KV Racing Technology for the Indy 500 and could be the lead candidate for the ride due to carrying extra sponsorship from Always Evolving. Legge has two starts at Indy and also drove for Coyne in the former Champ Car World Series. Tung, attempted to make the Indy 500 field in 2011 for Jay Penske’s Dragon Racing, but failed when he crashed during qualifications. The Chinese driver would be required to complete a rookie test should he claim the seat.

Practice resumes Tuesday from Noon to 6 p.m. eastern time at the Speedway weather permitting.

 

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About Matt Embury

Matt Embury is the Senior SportsCar Writer at Rubbings Racing and can be followed on Twitter (@MattEmbury) for the latest sports car news and opinions. A native of Mishawaka, Indiana, he has been following sports car racing for nearly 20 years.

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