It isn’t opening day, but the first time Indycar takes to the IMS oval each spring is a day to celebrate.
Testing on the oval begins today as the 32 confirmed entries for the 106th running of the Indianapolis 500 take to the track. All sessions on both days will be broadcast live on Peacock.
The field includes the 26 car full time grid plus the Dreyer and Reinbold team of Sage Karam and Santino Ferrucci, Ed Carpenter in car 33, Juan Pablo Montoya in car 6 for Arrow McLaren SP, Tony Kanaan in a fifth Chip Ganassi car, and Marco Andretti in car 98 for Andretti Autosport.
Jimmie Johnson and Romain Grosjean are cleared to practice with the veterans, but they still have to complete the final phase of their rookie tests. Weather last fall prevented the drivers from finishing the required number of laps.
Taking refreshers tests will be Karam, Ferrucci, Montoya, Kanaan, and Andretti.
Beginning their rookie tests are Kyle Kirkwood, Christian Lundgaard, Devlin De Francesco, Callum Ilott, and David Malukas.
Things to Watch For
In the first three races of the season, Chevrolet seems to be the better engine. Honda has been better at IMS the last two years. I’m not sure if either manufacturer wants to tip its hand before May officially begins, but I will be looking for trap speeds and the no tow sheets.
Among the Chevy teams, many eyes will be on Team Penske. The team that has won the most 500s has struggled the past two Mays. They have won the first three races of the season, and there are big expectations for Penske at IMS. Many have already installed Josef Newgarden as the favorite for the 500, but I’m not sure about that yet.
Rookies in Traffic
I like that the rookies get their own session in the middle of the day. They used to have to take their test within the regular practice periods.
When they are allowed to practice with the veterans, how will they handle the traffic? The pure rookies have very little oval experience. Did they learn enough at Texas to help them at IMS?
Wednesday looks to start off cool and may cause a delay in the start, but Thursday looks like a great day with warm temperatures in the afternoon.
Then track is open to spectators on the turn 2 viewing mounds near the museum. No grandstands are open.
I will be on site most of the day and I will have updates throughout the day.