The first day of Indianapolis 500 practice yielded quick lap times, and 11 caution periods. Only one of those caution flags was waved due to an on-track incident. Around 4:00 p.m., Jack Harvey made contact with the SAFER Barrier in Turn 2 as he was exiting pit lane on to the track. The car spun 180 degrees as it headed toward the inside exit of the turn and towards the infield. The Holmatro Safety Team responded quickly and Harvey was able to exit the car without assistance.
Harvey is making his first IndyCar Series start this year in the Indianapolis 500. He is racing with Michael Shank Racing and Andretti Autosport in the No. 50 AutoNation Honda. As a precaution and per protocol, he was taken to the infield medical center where he was promptly checked, released, and cleared to drive,
“It’s been a pretty challenging day for what was meant to be an easy process. We had some issues this morning, but we had managed to work through them. To have that happen, and I don’t know what did happen apart from I went to turn in and it went straight. I was coming out of the pits. I wasn’t even going fast. I was probably not even going 100 mph. So bizarre. We had just done a long run and had pitted because there was a yellow flag and then had that. Hopefully it’s the last time we come to the medical center.”
This week marks Harvey’s first experience in an Indy car and he is expected to complete his Rookie Orientation tomorrow. Don’t forget that he has experience at Indianapolis Motor Speedway thanks to the Mazda Road to Indy. In 2015, Harvey won on the road course and the oval while running Indy Lights with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
Andretti Autosport’s day had more high points than low, however. A direction they would like to see their season continue in, as well. Marco Andretti’s No. 27 UFD Honda screamed around Indianapolis Motor Speedway 47 times on Monday, clocking the fastest lap of the day (226.338). This is the second year in a row that he’s claimed that top spot on the first day of ‘500’ practice.
Andretti has not struggled to find pace in practice this season, at any track. He has however had a hard time putting laps together in qualifying format and race trim. Perhaps the combination of his practice pace and the strength of the current Honda package at IMS will be the winning combination for Andretti.
“Speed is always good. That’s the first thing you always want here because then you can really put more focus on just getting a comfortable race car, which is obviously my plan the rest of the week.”
Andretti has yet to win the 500, a feat that his grandfather, Mario accomplished but always eluded his dad, Michael. Marco has finished on the podium four times, and looks to make 2017 the year that another Andretti is added to the Borg Warner trophy.
Another Andretti Autosport teammate has his eye on that big beautiful Borg though, and for the first time in his illustrious career. That would be the driver of the No. 29 Papaya-orange McLaren Honda, internationally-recognized racer, Fernando Alonso. The two-time Formula 1 Champion completed his Rookie Orientation for the ‘500’ back on May 3rd but experienced driving in traffic for the first time today. 223.025 was his best lap speed out of the 55 roundtrips he took at IMS on Day 1.
“Everything went very smooth. We had some issues with the rear suspension and we could not complete the program that we were planning to run a little bit in traffic at the end of the day, so we missed that part, but overall it was an amazing day.”
While he didn’t get a ton of practice running in traffic, it was more than he had on his solo ROP day and it was a good ease-in to the week of practice sessions prior to qualifying this coming weekend.
Photos: Chris Owens, David Yowe, Matt Fraver / IndyCar
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