RAINY DAYS AND MONDAYS

Sage Karam/No.8 Comfort Revolution/Big Machine Records Chevrolet came back out near the end of the Monday session and jumped to the top of the chart with two minutes to go in the first ‘real’ practice session for the upcoming 99th running of the Indianapolis 500. The Verizon IndyCar Series driver ran a speed of 225.802 mph/00.39.8579 seconds at The Brickyard. The fast lap was his fortieth of forty-one. The earlier 17 mph wind had died down somewhat.

Young Karam, running an Indy 500-only race for Chip Ganassi Racing, said “It’s only the first day, so it’s not about how fast you are today,” This is his second Indy 500. Last year he ran as a Rookie. “It’s about how fast you are on Sunday in two weeks. It definitely feels good, though. It’s the first time I’ve ever been P1 at the (Indianapolis Motor) Speedway so it’s a good feeling.”

Karam bumped late runner, Scott Dixon/No.9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. Dixon’s teammate, Tony Kanaan/No.10 NTT Data Chevrolet was third fastest. Dixon said he had come out late because the car wasn’t ready. They were still moving parts around.

Fourth overall and top Honda was Marco Andretti/No.27 Andretti Snapple Honda. He turned 45 laps, with a top speed of 225.184 mph. Meanwhile, Grandpa – Mario Andretti – paced nervously nearby. “We needed to mileage out the engine and for only having one set of tires, I’m pretty please with where things progressed for the Snapple team. But I think there’s still a lot of speed coming for the 27 Honda.” Andretti ran on top for awhile until the Ganassi Guys came out. He ran 63 laps and his fastest was on Lap 41.

Marco Andretti's Honda nose

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Fifth through tenth were. Jr Hildebrand/No.6 Preferred Freezer/CFH Racing Chevrolet; his teammate and team owner, Ed Carpenter/No.20 Fuzzy Vodka CFH Racing Chevrolet; Carlos Munoz/No.26 AndrettiTV.com Honda; Justin Wilson/No.25 Andretti Autosport Honda; Takuma Sato/No.14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda; and Josef Newgarden/No.21 Century 21 CFH Racing Chevrolet.

Newgarden turned the most laps – 83, and his fastest time was set on Lap 74, when the wind had lessened. Newgarden said the earlier wind made a difference, and it was hard holding onto the car.

The first practice, scheduled for 2pm ET, was rain/moisture delayed until 4:15pm ET, and interrupted three times for nearly 33 minutes.

The top ten drivers included six Chevrolets and four Hondas.

Gabby Chaves/No.98 Bower & Wilkins/Curb Honda was the top Rookie, in twelfth place at 224.173 mph.

No.19 Dale Coyne Honda in Garage

Thirty of the thirty-four entries were on track. Missing were Jack Hawksworth/No.41 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda; Alex Tagliani/No.48 Alfe Heat Treating Special AJ Foyt Racing Honda; past 500 winner, Buddy Lazier/No.91 Wynn Iowa Research Lazier Racing Chevrolet-who is on a ‘short’ program; and No.19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda.

The number 19 Honda is still driverless. It was up on jacks in its garage Monday. A crew member said “I know nothing … officially. I know nothing. The car doesn’t have a driver and we’re working on the bodywork. Besides, it’s raining outside.”

Stefano Coletti's helmet

Rookie Stefano Coletti/No.4 KV Racing Technology Chevrolet completed his third and final phase of the Rookie Orientation Program Monday afternoon. His fastest time was 219.748 mph, which put him twenty-fouth overall. This was his very first time on any oval. He missed the open test a week ago Sunday as he had European Visa problems. “I finally got to go out on the track and I am very happy. It is very fast. I want to thank all the guys at KV Racing for helping me. I also want to thank Arie Luyendyk. He took me around the track this morning and gave me some tips, which really helped today.” Off the record, Coletti was very, very excited and his R-rated comments were Tweeted worldwide.

Simon Pagenaud/No.22 Avaya Team Penske Chevrolet was the only one of the four Penske drivers to run any meaningful laps. He was nineteenth, at 222.885 mph. Teammate Juan Pablo Montoya/No.2 ran three laps, and the other two teammates, Helio Castroneves/No.3 Chevrolet and Will Power/No.1 Chevrolet, each ran but one lap, with all three at the bottom of the chart.

Five former Indy 500 champions are among the 34 drivers in this year’s field. Two are from Team Penske – Juan Pablo Montoya/No.2 Chevrolet and Helio Castroneves/No.3 Chevrolet; two are from Chip Ganassi Racing, Scott Dixon/No.9 Target Chevrolet and Tony Kanaan/No.10 NTT Data, and one independent – Buddy Lazier of Colorado – who is an independent.

Two drivers in the 2015 Indy 500 are Rookies – Coletti and Chaves, who has run at IMS before, when he drove in the Indy Lights Series.

Twelve drivers on this year’s Entry List call America their home. Five drivers come from Colombia. Four English drivers are entered. There are two drivers each from Brazil, Canada, and France. There is one driver each from Australia, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Spain, Switzerland, and one yet to be named.

The 34-car Entry List is equally divided between Chevrolet and Honda engine manufacturers. For the super-speedway, the two new manufacturer aero kits are different from each other, and from the road course aero kits.