Photo: Chris Jones/Penske Entertainment

Dixon Fastest on Rain-Soaked Opening Day at Indianapolis

By Kirby Arnold, Special Contributor

SPEEDWAY, Ind. – Kyle Larson got his feet wet, literally, when practice began Tuesday for the 108th Indianapolis 500.

Larson, the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion driving for Arrow McLaren this month at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, drove only two slow laps before a day-long rain settled over the 2.5-mile oval and washed out the remainder of the session after 23 minutes.

“The weather is getting in the middle of things today, but once we get through today, it should be good,” said Larson, who will attempt “the double” on May 26 in the Indy 500 and NASCAR’s Coca Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, an effort that has been nearly two years in planning.

“It’s good to finally have the Indy 500 here. Just happy to get this experience underway.”

No Indy 500 experience is complete without rain, and Larson got a feel for it right away. His best speed was 149.869 mph on the second of what essentially were two install laps to ensure all was well with his No. 17 Arrow McLaren Chevy. Then it rained.

Photo: Walter G. Arce/ASP, Inc.

Practice is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, with two more days of running Thursday and Friday before qualifying on Saturday and Sunday. While that seems like ample opportunity to get a car up to speed, veterans at the speedway know time passes quickly if a team doesn’t roll out of the garage fast, especially if more weather or mishaps come into play.

“Even at this point, I’ve gotten more today than I thought I would, so just getting to leave the pit lane a couple times, it was good,” Larson said. “As we get to tomorrow, we get like a clean day of running, I’ll be able to learn probably a lot.”

Scott Dixon was fastest of the 29 cars on track Tuesday, firing off a speed of 229.107 mph on the seventh of his nine laps in his Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Marco Andretti drove 12 laps with a top speed of 228.399 mph in his Andretti Herta with Marco & Curb-Agajanian Honda, and Takuma Sato was third fastest at 225.551 in his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda.

The 29 cars turned only 219 laps before the rain hit, and no driver completed more than 13 laps. Defending champion Josef Newgarden made one lap at 119.164 before parking his Team Penske Chevy because of a sensor issue.

Katherine Legge and defending series champion Alex Palou didn’t turn a lap Tuesday.

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