In the first early morning practice, with the coldest running temperatures so far, MARCO ANDRETTI/No.25 Andretti Autosport Honda was fastest at 232.239 mph/373.75244 kph. This from the driver who said Friday afternoon that he wasn’t going to get up early for the morning practice.
Andretti could have it the snooze button a couple of times, as the first practice was 55 minutes late in starting, due to track temperatures being too cold as mandated by Firestone Tires. It was 44 degrees F ambient and had to reach 60 degrees.
One driver who did skip morning practice was ED CARPENTER/No.20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, who pipped the 230+ mph mark Friday afternoon in the very-abbreviated Fast Friday session.
Andretti was the only driver to go run faster than 230+ mph in Practice One. He was followed by teammate for the weekend, Rookie KURT BUSCH, who reached 230.984 mph/371.73271 kph, faster than Friday’s Fast Five topper of 230.522 mph run by last year’s Pole Winner, Carpenter. Third was Rookie JACK HAWKSWORTH/No.98 BHA/BBM with Curb Agajanian Honda at 230.350 mph/370.71239.
The second morning practice saw TOWNSEND BELL/No.6 KV Racing Technology Chevrolet lead with 230.830 mph, followed by Ryan Hunter-Reay/No.28 Andretti Autosport Honda and CHARLIE KIMBALL/No.83 Chip Ganassi Racing Teams Chevrolet. However, smart money said running in a tow isn’t the same as alone, and perhaps JAMES HINCHCLIFFE/No.27 Andretti Autosport was the fastest in that category, at 230.155 mph.
The two practice sessions divided the field in half, for a 65-minute session with three cautions – two for debris and one for the spin of Rookie MIKHAIL ALESHIN/No.7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. The combined session was canceled due to the late start.
The Indy 500 Qualifying Draw was held Friday dusk, with RYAN BRISCOE drawing for the first slot in his T Car for the NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. The fellow with the busiest Saturday schedule, Rookie KURT BUSCH, drew Number 22 in the order for his run in the No.26 Andretti Honda. He has a Saturday night date with the NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Thirty-one drivers ran the morning session, with 12 drivers faster than 230 mph, and seven who were faster than Carpenter’s Fast Friday time.
Just one more reason to like ‘local boy makes good’ – Northern California Stanford grad, ANDREW LUCK, who was the top 2012 draft pick by Indianapolis Colts, made his second visit to the Speedway. In a time-filler interview by the track announcer later reported by TONY di ZINNO, Luck said he thought drivers are athletEs. “You see what they do behind the wheel and prep for it, there’s no question to me.”