Arie Luyendyk’s track records of 237.498mph (one lap) and 236.986mph (four-lap average) have stood for almost 20 years. Following Sunday’s opening day of practice for the 99th Indianapolis 500 and debut of IndyCar’s oval-track aero kits, the two-time Indy winner’s IMS marks may not be off limits this month.
Led by Juan Montoya’s fastest lap of 226.672mph in the Verizon Dallara-Chevy, the top speed was up nearly 4mph from a year ago from the General Motors’ design that features a tiny rear wing with no end fences.
But the Honda kit of Marco Andretti, which has an entirely different look at the back of his Snapple Special, was close behind at 226.268mph and the perennial Indy front-runner knows there’s a lot more.
Track record fast?
“I think so, especially in two years,” replied Andretti. “This year it depends on how much hay we make over the next couple weeks after the road course race. “Track record? I don’t know, maybe in a tow with Fast Friday and the added boost. But obviously that doesn’t count.
“The way the balance is right now, that’s a fast time for the handful I have. If we can get the car going forward instead of sideways. I’m just not that pleased with the car right now.”
Ed Carpenter captured the pole position in 2014 with an average of 231.067mph and Montoya figures that will easily be eclipsed.
“Once we trim, we’ll see, probably be 233 or 234 this year,” said the 2000 Indy 500 champ and current Verizon IndyCar series point leader. “But really I think the time sheet is pretty irrelevant until you get to qualifying. Everybody is posting times in the draft and it’s just a matter of who is doing the best in the draft.”
Teammate Helio Castroneves posted the second-quickest lap, just a fraction behind JPM, but the three-time Indy winner also had the best lap without any traffic or tows at 224mph.
“We’re starting faster than we usually do and I think you’ll see the speeds increasing tremendously,” said Castroneves, who stands No. 2 in the standings and turns 40 on May 10. “But right now we’re not looking for times as much as we’re looking for data so that nothing goes under the radar.”
Chevrolet has won three of the four races and dominated qualifying this season, but Honda drivers posted four of the top 10 speeds Sunday and seemed to be pretty evenly matched.
“Too early to say but I think Honda will be strong,” said Montoya.
VITOR IN THE COYNE CAR?
Vitor Meira, a nine-time Indy starter and two-time runner-up, may wind up in one of Dale Coyne’s two open seats for the Indy 500.
The popular Brazilian last competed at Indy in 2011 but friends say he’s heading to IMS with the plan of getting into No. 18 or No. 19 for Coyne. James Davison and Katherine Legge are also vying for those seats.