Photo: Matt Fraver/Penske Entertainment

Newgarden Leads Rain-Shortened First Day of Indy 500 Open Test


INDIANAPOLIS – Josef Newgarden must like the view from the top at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as he was fastest Wednesday in the rain-shortened first day of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge Open Test.

Reigning “500” winner Newgarden turned the fastest lap during the morning session on the 2.5-mile oval, 228.811 mph, in the No. 2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet. Two-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Newgarden also led the Indy 500 Open Test in 2022 and last year, when he returned in May to earn his first victory in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” after a scintillating, last-lap duel with 2022 winner Marcus Ericsson.

SEE: Combined Test Results

“We’re not trying to do it because I had no idea,” Newgarden said of leading the Open Test for a third straight year. “I didn’t know it was three years in a row. We want to check off things on our list. Obviously, it’s been right at the front, which is a good sign.”

The first day of testing, which featured separate sessions for veterans, and Rookie Orientation Program and refresher tests, was halted numerous times by passing raindrops, including one midday delay of 67 minutes. Heavier showers arrived shortly after 2 p.m. ET to end on-track activity.

Testing is scheduled to resume from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. ET Thursday, with live coverage in the United States on Peacock and live international coverage on INDYCAR LIVE.

While it was little surprise to see NTT INDYCAR SERIES oval master Newgarden atop the speed chart, the second-fastest driver raised eyebrows and anticipation in equal measure. 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson clocked in second at 226.384 in the No. 17 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet as he prepares for his first start in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” while also attempting the “Hendrick 1100” double of racing at Indy and in the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 26.

“Getting in some traffic and feeling the turbulent air,” Larson said. “The first time I got in traffic, I think my tires still had good grip, so I was surprised. It didn’t feel that different in traffic. Then the last time, I was building understeer, and Newgarden got by me and I was super tight behind him.

“I’m just trying to learn all that and process all that and knowing what I can do in the car to cope with that. I’m just trying to figure out any bit of racecraft today, which I know is tough. Just get notes in my head and all that.”

2008 Indy 500 winner and six-time series champion Scott Dixon was third at 226.346 in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, followed by reigning series champion and teammate Alex Palou at 226.201 in the No. 10 DHL Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

Colton Herta rounded out the top five at 225.907 in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda. Herta was the only driver among the top five to turn his best lap in the brief afternoon session before testing was washed out.

All three veterans requiring refresher tests – Marco Andretti, Pietro Fittipaldi and Katherine Legge – completed that program. Christian Rasmussen, Kyffin Simpson and Nolan Siegel each finished the three-phase Rookie Orientation Program.

The 108th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge is scheduled for Sunday, May 26. Practice opens Tuesday, May 14, with PPG Presents Armed Forces Qualifying on Saturday, May 18 and Sunday, May 19.

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