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May Officially Under Way As Cars Hit Bricks At IMS

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, May 17 2016
Pit road got real busy, real fast at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval on Monday. (Photos courtesy of INDYCAR)

Pit road got real busy, real fast at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval on Monday. (Photos courtesy of INDYCAR)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

The importance of track time was evident during Monday’s Opening Day of practice for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.

All 33 entered cars logged time on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval, totaling 1,972 bugindy500laps. The 33 cars on-track were the most for an Indy 500 Opening Day since 2010.

Andretti Autosport led the way with its five drivers finishing in the top six. Marco Andretti sat atop the leader board with a lap of 228.978 mph in the No. 27 Snapple Honda.

“It was a definitely a good start for the team,” said Andretti, the 11th-year Verizon IndyCar Series driver who has finished in the top four at the Indy 500 five times but has yet to win the race. “I think our team in particular looks pretty stout because we looked at the weather and moved things forward on the test plan from later in the week.

“I think we’re really going to see how things will shake-out in the next few days. I know how this month goes. It’s definitely a rollercoaster, so we’re prepared for that.”

Andretti was followed by teammates Carlos Munoz in the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda (228.945 mph), Ryan Hunter-Reay in the No. 28 DHL Honda (228.033 mph) and rookie Alexander Rossi in the No. 98 Castrol Edge/Curb Honda (226.865 mph). Townsend Bell, driving the No. 29 Honda, was sixth at 226.724 mph.

Rossi was among five Indy 500 rookies who participated in the two-hour rookie/veteran refresher session. The 24-year-old Californian enjoyed the extra track time before the oval opened to all competitors for the final four hours.

“It felt fast,” the aspiring Formula One driver said. “It was definitely eye-opening in terms of not having any kind of prior comparison to a place like this. I was glad we got through (rookie

Marco Andretti laid down the fastest lap on the first day of practice at Indy on Monday.

Marco Andretti laid down the fastest lap on the first day of practice at Indy on Monday.

orientation) without any issues, and this afternoon we got to work and it was a very good day for the team in general.”

Scott Dixon, the four-time/reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion and 2008 Indianapolis 500 winner, was fifth on the chart and fastest of the Chevrolet drivers with a lap of 226.835 mph in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing entry.

“We tried a number of things today with the car, but no one is going for big numbers this early out there,” Dixon said. “No issues overall and looking forward to getting closer to qualifying trim tomorrow.”

Two-time/reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Juan Pablo Montoya was 13th fastest at 224.613 mph in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. The entire day ran incident-free.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing rookie Spencer Pigot was the busiest driver in both sessions, turning a total of 161 laps in the No. 16 RLL/Mi-Jack/Manitowac Honda.

“It was a lot of fun out there,” said Pigot, a 22-year-old native of Florida. “I have always been looking forward to the day that I got to drive an Indy car around this track, so it was a great experience. We gradually built speed through the day and got through (rookie orientation) and did a lot of laps. The car feels good in traffic. There’s a lot more for me to learn and get used to as the days go on, but I think it was a good first day.”

Practice continues Tuesday through Friday, from noon to 6 p.m. (ET) each day. Qualifying to set the 33-car field will be held Saturday and Sunday. The May 29 race airs at 11 a.m. (ET) on ABC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

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Five Indy 500 rookies and five veteran part-time drivers took part in the two-hour rookie orientation and veteran refresher session.

Alexander Rossi, Spencer Pigot, Matt Brabham (No. 61 PIRTEK Team Murray Chevrolet), Max Chilton (No. 8 Gallagher Chip Ganassi Racing Teams Chevrolet) and Stefan Wilson (No. 25 Driven2savelives – KVRT Chevrolet) completed all three phases of rookie orientation, which included 10 laps in the range of 205-210 mph, 15 laps at 210-215 mph and 15 laps at 215-plus mph. Those who didn’t complete all three phases during the two hours were able to later in the afternoon.

Veterans taking the refresher needed to complete the final two phases. All five _ Townsend Bell, Bryan Clauson (No. 88 Cancer Treatment Centers of America Honda), JR Hildebrand (No. 6 Preferred Freezer Fuzzy Vodka Chevrolet), Sage Karam (No. 24 DRR-Kingdom Racing Chevrolet) and Oriol Servia (No. 77 Lucas Oil Special Honda) _ successfully did so.

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Charlie Kimball is recognized as a successful and winning Verizon IndyCar Series driver who happens to have type 1 diabetes. In partnership with sponsor Novo Nordisk, the Chip Ganassi Racing Teams driver is taking another step to raise awareness in the fight against the disease by changing the number of the car he will drive in the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Kimball, who normally drives the No. 83 Chevrolet, will “borrow” the No. 42 from CGRT NASCAR teammate Kyle Larson to run on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval. The change was made to recognize that Tresiba, a once-daily, long-acting basal insulin approved for blood sugar control in adults with diabetes launched by Novo Nordisk earlier this year, lasts at least 42 hours after eight once-daily injections.

It also pays tribute to Larson, whose cousin, Justin Hinton, has diabetes and will be one of 42 people whose names are affixed to the car’s sidepod this month. Other leaders in the diabetes community whose names will be on the car include actor Ben Vereen, retired NBA great Dominique Wilkins and tennis star Billie Jean King.

“It’s going to be fun to cheer him on as well as all the other Chip Ganassi teammates,” said Larson, who joined Kimball, team-owner Chip Ganassi and Novo Nordisk executives in announcing the number change at IMS. “My cousin is a type 1 diabetic; his name will also be on the car. That’s pretty special to myself and my family. Gives me more reason to cheer on Charlie.”

Novo Nordisk is also making a $4,200 donation to the Indiana chapter of the American Diabetes Association on behalf of the driver leading Lap 42 of the Indy 500 and another $4,200 to the Charlotte chapter of the ADA for the driver who leads Lap 42 of the NASCAR Coke 600 that night in Concord, N.C.

“As an individual living with diabetes, Charlie continues to be such an inspiration and leader for the community of others affected by diabetes,” said Camille Lee, senior vice president, diabetes and obesity marketing, Novo Nordisk Inc. “By changing the number of the Tresiba Chevrolet to 42 and displaying names of real people touched by the disease on his car for this historic race, he is making great strides to honor the diabetes community.”

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United Fiber & Data will sponsor the No. 26 Honda driven by Carlos Munoz of Andretti Autosport in this year’s Indianapolis 500. UFD previously sponsored Andretti cars at Indianapolis in 2013 and ’14. … The preliminary overnight TV rating for ABC’s broadcast of Saturday afternoon’s third annual Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis was a 0.78. That represents a 13 percent increase from the 2015 rating.

  

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, May 17 2016
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