Josef Newgarden was the first car to take to the track on Opening Day for this year's 97th running of the Indianapolis 500, and he went on to finish as the second fastest of the 16 drivers at work at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday. He was just 0.0091s behind Ed Carpenter, who claimed the first day honours with a lap of 220.970mph (40.7296s).
The day's activity assumed a rather fragmented nature, with the first two hours open to all cars before the 2-5-mile speedway was closed to all except the three rookies present in Indianapolis on Saturday to undertake their mandatory Rookie Orientation Program.
All three newcomers - AJ Allmendinger, Carlos Munoz and Tristan Vautier - completed their required rounds of ROP which saw them run a sequence of laps within a set bracket of escalating speeds, which means that a the originally scheduled ROP hiatus on Sunday should now no longer be required. AJ Foyt Racing's Conor Daly will need to complete his rookie program later in the week when he arrives from Europe after competing in this weekend's GP3 Series events in Spain.
"It was not that much different than driving in Firestone Indy Lights, but it just took me a few laps to adapt to the track and the new #26 Unistraw Chevrolet," said Munoz, part of the Andretti Autosport line-up at this year's Indy 500. "My teammates, James and Marco, supported me throughout each of the phases and gave me some good tips. I feel really good going into the rest of this week's practices, but it's still a long couple weeks so we just need to take it step-by-step."
After the rookie break, there was also a half hour pause in proceedings after light rain left moisture on the track. It's the first rain interruption at IMS since 2011, as last year's event was completely dry. Once the green flags came out again, drivers had about 90 minutes of the day's scheduled practice remaining.
Practice 1 times
1. #20 Ed Carpenter
(C) 220.970mph 40.7296s Leader
2. #21T Josef Newgarden
(H) 220.920mph 40.7387s + 0.0091s
3. #26 Carlos Munoz *
(C) 220.720mph 40.7756s + 0.0460s
4. #83T Charlie Kimball
(H) 220.633mph 40.7917s + 0.0621s
5. #98 Alex Tagliani
(H) 220.248mph 40.8631s + 0.1335s
6. #10 Dario Franchitti
(H) 219.873mph 40.9328s + 0.2032s
7. #11 Tony Kanaan
(C) 219.125mph 41.0725s + 0.3429s
8. #2 AJ Allmendinger *
(C) 218.967mph 41.1020s + 0.3724s
9. #10T Dario Franchitti
(H) 218.842mph 41.1255s + 0.3959s
10. #9 Scott Dixon
(H) 218.214mph 41.2439s + 0.5143s
11. #9T Scott Dixon
(H) 218.143mph 41.2574s + 0.5278s
12. #3 Helio Castroneves
(C) 217.923mph 41.2990s + 0.5694s
13. #14 Takuma Sato
(H) 217.734mph 41.3348s + 0.6052s
14. #12 Will Power
(C) 217.595mph 41.3612s + 0.6316s
15. #78 Simona de Silvestro
(C) 216.938mph 41.4866s + 0.7570s
16. #2 Helio Castroneves
(C) 216.620mph 41.5475s + 0.8179s
Total Laps: 298
* Denotes rookie
Times do not include ROP laps