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Indy 500: Penske pair pace first day at Indianapolis

Penske's Juan Pablo Montoya and Helio Castroneves were fastest in the first oval open test of the year at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The month of May is officially underway, with Indianapolis Motor Speedway holding the first day of open testing for the oval versions of the new aero kit bodywork components that will have their first race outing in the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500.

This year's Opening Day at IMS saw the Penske teams predictably quick to set the pace, with Penske's Juan Pablo Montoya and Helio Castroneves topping the timesheets for Sunday's full day of testing, which saw the field run 1845 laps without incident.

CLICK: Full times from Opening Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Montoya - who won the iconic race at his first attempt in 2000 before moving to F1 and NASCAR - set the target time of 39.6874s (226.772mph) after 95 laps of the 2.5-mile speedway, just over half a tenth faster than his team mate, already significantly faster that the 223.057mph set by Will Power during last year's Opening Day, showing the impact of the new bodywork components designed to balance aerodynamic drag reduction for speed with sufficient downforce for handling.

However the teams still have some way to go over the next few weeks before they match Ed Carpenter's four-lap average speed of 231.067mph which won him pole in 2014, let alone Arie Luyendyk's all-time speed record of 237.498mph set back in 1996 with a very different car and engine specification.

"It's okay," said Montoya of his day's work. "It's is good for Verizon and for Chevy and for everybody that is paying attention, but I think the time sheet, as always, is irrelevant until you get to the race or until you get to qualifying. Everybody is posting times in the draft and it's a matter of who is doing the best in the draft."

There was encouraging news for the Honda camp has well, which has struggled to match the pace of its rivals Chevrolet in the four road and street course races so far this season which have used a different aero kit configuration. Macro Andretti proved to be third fastest in the #27 Andretti Autosport entry on Sunday, edging out Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon for third place by 0.0681s.

"The good thing about that is we're still in the hunt speed-wise," agreed Andretti, although he was quick to add that this was only the first step in a long road leading to the Indy 500 itself on May 24.

"There are definitely still some gremlins to work out," he admitted. "We have an overwhelming laundry list of changes to try. Luckily we have a lot of time to work with it, but we're going to need some time. I don't really want to go into a lot of detail, but there are a lot of things to work out still. I'm not thoroughly pleased with my car now."

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Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Marco Andretti in pit lane (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Marco Andretti and father/team boss Michael Andretti at IMS (Photo by: Dana Garrett for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves sets up for Turn 1 during the Oval Open Test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya enters Turn 1 during the Oval Open Test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya flashes across the Yard of Bricks during the Oval Open Test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Photo by: John Cote 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]

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