By IndyCar Media
INDIANAPOLIS (Tuesday, May 18, 2021) – Will Power led a busy, compressed opening day of practice for the 105th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Tuesday, turning a top lap of 226.470 mph at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
2018 Indy 500 winner Power’s fastest lap in the No. 12 Verizon 5G Team Penske Chevrolet came in the final session of the day, an open practice lasting one hour, 50 minutes between 4:10-6 p.m. (ET) on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval. Delays due to late-morning rain compressed the final session from three hours to one hour, 50 minutes, so drivers wasted no time clustering in packs of thick traffic and swapping positions in the aerodynamic draft.
“Just a big tow,” Power said of the aerodynamic pull of leading cars. “It’s as simple as that – trying to catch that train. But as far as in traffic, I felt pretty good. Running with two or three cars in front, I felt as comfortable as I have in a while.”
2014 “500” winner Ryan Hunter-Reay was second at 226.371 in the No. 28 DHL Honda, while two-time and reigning winner Takuma Sato was third at 226.132 in the No. 30 Panasonic/PeopleReady Honda.
Sage Karam was the fastest non-“500” winner on the speed chart, fourth at 225.942 in the No. 24 DRR-AES INDIANA Chevrolet. Conor Daly rounded out the top five at 225.640 in the No. 47 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet.
INDYCAR introduced a regulation in 2021 that requires teams to fill in the front half of the “hole” in the underwing of the Dallara chassis with a carbon fiber clam-shell piece. This increases downforce and reduces the reliance on the front wing, which will create more passing. After just one day in traffic, 2014 NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Power thinks the changes will generate even more action on Race Day, Sunday, May 30.
“It’s promising,” Power said. “I think adding that downforce is certainly going to help the racing. I think you’re going to have one of the old-style races where the front three are just swapping positions constantly because you can follow so close now. I think it will be good. It’s good for the fans.”
Power was the busiest and fastest of the 35 drivers on track today, turning 87 laps. The field combined to turn 2,369 laps overall.
Graham Rahal led the morning session for veteran drivers, which was interrupted by three times by light rain. His top lap was 223.449 in the No. 15 United Rentals Honda, and that stood as his top speed of the day.
After a rain delay of two hours, 20 minutes, the track opened for two hours for the Rookie Orientation Program and veteran refresher tests.
JR Hildebrand and Stefan Wilson completed their refresher tests in the No. 1 ABC Supply Foyt Stewart Racing Chevrolet and No. 25 LOHLA SPORT/Cusick Motorsports Honda, respectively. RC Enerson was the only one of the three rookies assigned to cars who didn’t complete his rookie test during testing in April, and he was nearly finished with the second of the three phases of his test when mechanical trouble struck his No. 75 Top Gun Racing Chevrolet.
Enerson will return to the track at 11 a.m. Wednesday to try and finish the second and third phases of his rookie test. The track is scheduled to be open from noon-6 p.m. for open practice.