Four of the five NTT IndyCar Series newcomers have completed their Rookie Orientation Program requirements and are clear to participate in all upcoming sessions for the 104th Indianapolis 500.
In the two-hour session, which also included veterans who’ve been out of the car since last year’s Indy 500 heading out to complete ‘refresher’ runs, Ed Carpenter Racing rookie Rinus VeeKay went fastest in the No. 21 Chevy (221.318mph), followed by Dale Coyne Racing rookie Alex Palou in the No. 55 Honda (219.876mph) in second, Arrow McLaren SP rookie Oliver Askew was seventh in the No. 7 Chevy (218.342s), and teammate Pato O’Ward was eighth in his No. 5 Chevy (217.962s).
A.J. Foyt Racing’s Dalton Kellett completed the majority of his ROP stages in the No. 41 Chevy, but will need to finish the process in the afternoon session.
“Really happy, the car is working well,” Palou (pictured above) told RACER. “It was fun. This is a crazy place. It’s really different from the Texas and Iowa ovals I’ve done.”
The Spaniard says he struggled with the first and slowest ROP phase, but the rest were easy to finish.
“It was hard to do the first ROP part because you have to lift a lot, and the car moves around a lot when you do that,” he added. “Now we have to take all the information we’ve got and go faster.”
Among the veterans in the session, Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves was fastest in third with the No. 3 Chevy (219.274mph), and Arrow McLaren SP’s Fernando Alonso was directly behind in fourth with the No. 66 Chevy (219.052mph).
DragonSpeed’s Ben Hanley, who spent the first two sessions in the garage having final touches being completed on the No. 81 Chevy, did not turn in his refresher laps and, per an update from IndyCar, the Briton is not eligible to run in the closing session from 3-5:30 p.m. ET.