Stefano Coletti/No.4 KV Racing Technology Chevrolet was one of six drivers in the hour-long, somewhat rain-delayed Indianapolis 500 Rookie Orientation Program session at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Monday noon. With some coaching by Arie Luyendyk, the young Italian was going through the required phases as this was his first oval race in the Verizon IndyCar Series. His session was extended a bit longer for him to complete Phase Two of his ROP. He finished sixth with a lap of 214.077 mph.
The sixty-minute+ session was delayed 20 minutes, but ran the full time, with Coletti getting an extra five minutes, and he completed Phase Two.
Luyendyk is also coaching Coletti’s teammate, Bryan Clauson/No.88 KVSH Racing/Jonathan Byrd’s/Jonathan Byrd’s Racing Chevrolet, who did not run the session. Coletti’s team co-owner, Jimmie Vasser was upstairs in the dry Media Center overlooking the action in the KV Racing Technology pit.
Vasser could watch his driver and Luyendyk, check the Timing & Scoring monitor and have time to reminisce about his own ROP back in the day. “I was in awe at being at the Speedway. I’m sure it’s good for Coletti, but being an American, it was very special to me.”
JR Hildebrand ran two cars in the hour-long Refresher session . He was top overall in his car, No.6 CFH Racing Chevrolet, at 220.074 mph. He was also third overall at 218.517 mph in his CFH Racing teammate’s car, the No.21 car driven by Josef Newgarden.
Townsend Bell/No.24 Robert Graham Special Chevrolet made short work of his Refresher session, completing Phase Two with a top time of 218.752 mph, for second overall at the end of the extended session.
Also running the session were Sebastian Saavedra/No.17 AFS Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, who was fourth overall at 217.166 mph; and Carlos Huertas/No.18 Dale Coyne Racing, coming in fifth at 216.152 mph.
After the break, the Indy 500 field has scheduled five hours for practice, but no cars were moving out of the garage – due to an impending rain storm said and seen to be moving in. Despite the brisk breeze and cloud cover, the temperature was a mild 71 degrees. One brief lightning flash had been seen.
Meanwhile, in Gasoline Alley, before the ‘rain’ appeared, the usual preparations were underway. Every day the driver banner flags are installed and taken down because of wind and rain. Out in Pit Lane, teams were making their Pit Boxes and lining up the necessary equipment in preparation of what they hoped would be a productive afternoon practice.
IndyCar oval races are not run in the rain. However, the series does run in the rain for road and street courses. Hence, the mad scramble last Saturday afternoon before the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis, run clockwise on the IMS road course circuit. Rain had threatened during Driver Introductions and rain tires were put on. Shortly thereafter, the sun came out and the tire guns and crew members were busy up and down the grid, making the change back to slicks.
The Monday afternoon Indy 500 practice session was still on a rain-delay at 3pm ET. The usual suspects were circulating the track in efforts to dry the 2.5-mile oval track.