Practice for the 106th Indianapolis 500 began today in sunny Speedway, Indiana.

Opening Day is always filled with anticipation, eagerness, and plenty of nerves. All 33 drivers entered in this year's race turned laps on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with two-time Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato topping the overall speed chart with a lap at 228.939 mph.

The Dale Coyne Racing driver took the top spot with less than five minutes remaining in the session. Scott Dixon sat at the top of the leaderboard for most of the day and finished 2nd on the speed chart. His teammates Jimmie Johnson and Marcus Ericsson were just behind him, with Rinus VeeKay rounding out the top five. Reigning series champion Alex Palou was 6th fastest, putting all four Chip Ganassi Racing cars inside the top six.

"We had a big tow. In Happy Hour, if you have new tires, I think you can do that," Sato said. "I’m pretty happy today. To be honest, this morning wasn’t as smooth as we wished. We had to go back to the garage and check up on lots of things because there was something we were not very happy with. But in the end, in the afternoon we quickly turned on good speed. I’m very happy with the 51 car. Dale Coyne Racing did a good job."

VeeKay had the fastest no-tow speed on Tuesday but he and Josef Newgarden (8th) were the only two Chevrolet drivers in the top ten of the overall speed chart. There were a total of 3,229 laps turned by the 33 drivers today, with Dalton Kellett (149) completing the most. The best news of the day is that there were no incidents on track, although there was a caution in the afternoon for a fox that found its way onto the track.

Weather conditions were optimal in the afternoon, but even in the morning teams were able to get a gauge for cooler conditions, should those materialize on race day later this month. It was a full day of action but it felt much more like two separate sessions. While nearly every driver participated in the first two hours of practice, only one car was on track from 11:15 until around 3:00 in the afternoon.

Stefan Wilson had the 2.5-mile oval to himself for much of the day as he went through his refresher course. The 33rd entry that was just announced two weeks ago is an interesting combination of talent. Cusick Motorsports returns with Wilson, who will be making his fourth Indy 500 start. AJ Foyt Racing is supplying the car and DragonSpeed is using their crew to service the entry. Wilson's best finish came in 2018 when he finished 15th with Andretti Autosport.

"It was really easy and the car was great to drive," Wilson said after completing 49 laps. "Great job by all the different mechanics who put the No. 25 Chevy together. We were running a pretty safe race setup with a lot of downforce, and at least for how it felt in Turn 1, it wasn’t exactly to my liking but we made a spring change."

There are plenty of storylines to follow over the next couple of weeks, headlined by the "drive for five" with Helio Castroneves. After winning the Greatest Spectacle in Racing last year as a one-off entry for Meyer Shank Racing, the veteran driver aims to vault himself into elite company as the only five-time winner of the race.

Another popular item to monitor this month is the debut of the rookie drivers. There are seven rookies entered in the race this year, headlined by Formula One veteran Romain Grosjean and Johnson, the seven-time NASCAR Cup Champion. Now in their second seasons, both have some experience under their belt. They are both also driving for powerhouse teams, Andretti Autosport and Chip Ganassi Racing. The other rookies to keep tabs on are Kyle Kirkwood, Callum Ilott, Christian Lundgaard, Devlin DeFrancesco, and David Malukas.

Johnson was very pleased with how his first day of practice went. "We have a really good race car," he said. "It’s just trying to work through extremes for me. What is a low trim setting? What’s a high trim setting? What’s mechanically tight? What’s mechanically free? Just trying to work through some of those big-picture things. All in all, a really good day. I feel like where we ended in this session gives me a lot of confidence for working forward."

Castroneves is trying to become the first repeat winner since 2002, when he achieved the feat with Team Penske. BorgWarner is offering a $400,000 bonus this year to the Brazilian if he can achieve back-to-back victories. In addition to Helio, there are seven other former 500 winners in the field. Tony Kanaan and Juan Montoya are two of those drivers, each running in a one-off entry.

Montoya is back in a third Arrow McLaren SP entry this year, after a solid 9th place finish with the team last May. The two-time Indy 500 winner was toward the bottom of the speed chart today, but doesn't necessarily care about that right now.

“It’s difficult conditions,” Montoya said. “It’s windy, it’s really hot, so we were just going through a lot of test items. We still have a lot of practice to go. I never really focus on putting up a big number or lap time, like everyone who put on new tires and tried to get big numbers in the tow. I don’t really focus on that at all so it's hard to know where you really stack up with everybody."

The battle between Honda and Chevrolet is another important aspect to look at. With the exception of Ed Carpenter Racing, Chevrolet struggled during the month of May last year. Penske, in particular, was searching for speed as their drivers qualified 17th, 21st, 26th, and 32nd. The team won the first three races of the season this year and appear to be the favorites going into the event. Roger Penske is vying for his 19th Indy 500 win on May 29.

Practice continues tomorrow from 12-6 but there is rain in the forecast.