The fastest driver on a warm and windy Open Test day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden, who used a strong aerodynamic tow to post a lap at 226.819mph in the No. 2 Chevy.
Barring a brief interruption from rain, the long outing that started at 9 a.m. and ended at 6 p.m. was free of dramas caused by weather or drivers.
“It was a pretty good day,” Newgarden said. “I was happy enough with the car. I think we still need some work, for sure. But just to get an initial read on where we’re at, obviously there’s a lot of new parts, differences to the last couple years. So we’re just trying to assess what we need to really work on now these last couple weeks before we get back here in May.
“Pretty happy. I felt the Shell Fuel Rewards car looked good. Had some decent speed, which is always nice to see, but doesn’t mean much when it comes to race day. We’ll see how we shake out as we get to the meat of things in the month of May.”
Friday’s top six had one representative from five teams that are expected to vie for the win on May 30, with Newgarden and Penske up front, defending Indy winner Takuma Sato second in Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s No. 30 (226.396mph), Juan Pablo Montoya from Arrow McLaren SP in the No. 86 Chevy in third (226.123mph), Scott Dixon in fourth with the No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda (225.906mph), RLL’s Graham Rahal in fifth with the No. 15 Honda (225.644mph), and Conor Daly’s No. 47 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevy in sixth (225.639mph).
“It was good,” Montoya said. “I think yesterday was a little shocking getting back in the car. Today was good. We worked through a lot of things. We found a lot of good things and a lot of bad things, like you always do.
“It was nice to get back a little bit in the draft. A lot to catch up again, learn, understand again what you need to do, the timing. But everything just starts coming back.
“It’s funny, getting up to speed yesterday was, ‘Ooh.’ Today you don’t even think about it. This afternoon even better. The first few runs with traffic is like, Ooh. Then you start relaxing, getting in the flow of things. We did some pit stops at the end. Everyone at Arrow McLaren SP has been doing a very good job. It was fun so far. I think this test was very, very useful.”
Of the powerhouse Indy 500 entrants, only Andretti Autosport was missing as Ryan Hunter-Reay’s No. 28 Honda managed a best lap from the group with 12th (224.949mph), but there was an encouraging effort by Andretti affiliate Meyer Shank Racing. MSR’s Jack Harvey claimed eighth in the No. 60 Honda (225.266mph) and his new teammate, three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves, added to the positivity with 10th in the No. 06 Honda (225.074mph).
Paretta Autosport, the lone new team in the field, ended the day in 21st after Simona De Silvestro registered 92 laps in the No. 16 Chevy (223.458mph).
A.J. Foyt Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais topped Thursday’s rain-shortened test day with a lap north of 224mph, but the team was mired at the opposite end of the speed chart as the Frenchman ended up 26th (222.627mph), with Canadian teammate Dalton Kellett in 30th (220.196mph). Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing rookie Cody Ware was 31st (218.438mph) as the NASCAR and sports car driver turned his formative laps in an Indy car at IMS. ECR’s Rinus VeeKay was the only driver among the 32 entered who did not drive on Friday as his team focused on repairing the damaged No. 21 Chevy following Thursday’s big crash.
The only type of traffic we like to see on a Friday…
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— NTT INDYCAR SERIES (@IndyCar) April 9, 2021
The four-car Penske team was among the busiest outfits on Friday with Newgarden (121 laps), Will Power (162), Simon Pagenaud (184), and Scott McLaughlin (195) logging 954.5 combined miles of testing as most entrants focused on running in packs to simulate what they’ll encounter in the race. McLaughlin also doubled as the driver to put in the most mileage on Friday, coming just 12.5 miles shy of completing a full race distance.
Teams will have no time to rest after the Indy Open Test as the regular NTT IndyCar Series season begins next Saturday with practice and qualifying at Barber Motorsports Park.