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Penske trio sweeps first Indy 500 practice

Will Power, Juan Pablo Montoya and Helio Castroneves were quick to lay down a marker in first practice for the 2014 Indianapolis 500.
As far as Roger Penske is concerned, five years is far too long since one of his drivers got to drink a cool glass of milk at the end of the Indianapolis 500, and on Sunday on the opening day of practice for this year's race his drivers made an early statement of serious intent by sweeping the top three spots on the first timesheets of the week.

Will Power was fastest with a lap of 223.057mph (40.3485s), a tenth faster than his team mate Juan Pablo Montoya who is making only his second appearance in the race after winning it on his first attempt in 2000. Three-time Indy 500 champion Helio Castroneves - who last won here in 2009 - was third fastest for the day two hundredths of a second further back. The three were carrying out team 'towing' practice when they set their best times.

Track activity eventually picked up after a slow start to proceedings which had been signalled by team owner and former driver Sarah Fisher waving the green flag at noon. Even though little more than 18 hours had elapsed since the end of the post-race celebrations after the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis road course race in the infield at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the stage had already been reset for the official start of the Month of May that will culminate in the 98th running of the Greatest Spectacle of Motorsport on May 25.

Helio Castroneves had been first out on track in his new bright yellow Pennzoil livery, but then the track was turned over to 2013 Indy Lights champion Sage Karam to complete his Rookie Orientation Program after his previous efforts last week had been thwarted by a small fire on the #22 Dreyer & Reinbold Kingdom Racing car. This time Karam was quickly done and dusted without any drama, with a best speed of 217.310mph during his 20 laps. That leaves only late entrant James Davison with ROP still to pass, which will be done in a special session on Thursday morning when his #33 KV Racing Technology car is scheduled to be ready.

There has also been some gossip that AJ Foyt Racing might be persuaded to add Katherine Legge as a 34th entry, but so far there is no official word on whether this will actually materialise. If she is entered then 34 cars will be bidding for 33 grid spots in the race - meaning that someone is going to lose out.

Many of the early runners were drivers who had not been involved in the previous day's race - Ed Carpenter taking over from Mike Conway in the #20 with JR Hildebrand back in action in the Verizon IndyCar Series in the sister #21 car; Townsend Bell in the #6 KV Racing Technology car; Kurt Busch in the #26 Andretti Autosport car; Jacques Villeneuve turning laps in the #5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports entry; and Alex Tagliani returning to action for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing in the #68 car.

Also in action on Sunday was EJ Viso, stepping in at short notice for James Hinchcliffe in the #27 United Fiber & Data Andretti Autosport entry. Hinchcliffe has been diagnosed with a concussion after being hit by flying debris during Saturday's race which means he will need to be medically cleared before he can return to the cockpit. The latest word is that this will not happen until the middle of the week, and there is some concern that Hinchcliffe might not be cleared to return in time to take part in next weekend's qualifying sessions.

Overall it was pleasant day at the Speedway with temperatures climbing over the 80 Fahrenheit mark. However the conditions turned humid and track activity was suspended for a time over fears of lightning storms in the vicinity; these did not materialise and the only other stoppage was for 20 minutes for a track inspection and to clear some debris within the last hour of the session.

Full practice times for day 1 at Indianapolis

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Alex Tagliani at IMS (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media.)
Jacques Villeneuve on practice day (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media.)
Townsend Bell at IMS (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media.)
Sarah Fisher waves the green flag for practice (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media.)
Alexander Rossi - Andretti Autosport   [pic credit: Indycar Media/Joe Skibinski]
Simon Pagenaud (Team Penske) celebrates winning the 2016 IndyCar title with victory at Sonoma   [pic credit: Chris Owens]
Simon Pagenaud - Team Penske   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Owens]
Ed Jones celebrates winning the 2016 Indy Lights championship
Kyle Kaiser (Juncos Racing) celebrates at Laguna Seca
Kyle Kaiser - Juncos Racing
Ed Carpenter Racing crew working on the boss` car   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Owens]
Indy Lights action
Indy Lights title contender Santiago Urrutia, Ed Jones, Dean Stoneman, Felix Serralles, Kyle Kaiser and Zach Veach   [pic credit: IndyCar Media]
Santiago Urrutia - Schmidt Petersen Motorsport
Will Power - Team Penske
Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) on his way to victory at Watkins Glen   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Owens]
Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) on his way to pole at Watkins Glen   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Owens]
Graham Rahal celebrates victory in the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway   (image credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Owens)

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