After a prolonged rain delay, the session for Rookie Orientation Program runs and refresher outings for veterans who didn’t compete after last year’s Indy 500 got going at 2:06 p.m. ET, more than two hours after it was meant to start.
Andretti Autosport’s Stefan Wilson was the first to roll out in the No. 25 Honda and after turning two laps, returned to pit lane for the team to look over the car and fix an issue with the timing transponder.
Five minutes into the two-hour session, RC Enerson turned the first lap at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Top Gun Racing team in the No. 75 Chevy. It marked the end of a long journey for the team that tried to make last year’s Indy 500 and the official start of a new one as the team, driver, and car made its debut with a lap of 135.871mph on the slow installation lap. That followed with a quick return to pit lane for crew chief Roy Wilkerson and team inspect the car before Enerson;s ROP commenced.
The No. 75 Chevy returned to the track and rose to 207.019mph after completing eight laps before pitting once more. The session remained quiet until 42 minutes had elapsed. The third and final driver in the session, A.J. Foyt Racing’s JR Hildebrand, was the last to appear on the timing and scoring chart in the No. 1 Chevy. After he pitted, the next to make noise was Wilson, but the car continued to encounter problems and had only turned seven laps with a 197.770mph best without starting his refresher runs.
Enerson was steady in the No. 75 car, completing the first phase of his ROP obligations with 65 minutes left in the session. Hildebrand completed his first refresher run at the same time, and Wilson reappeared and got started on his first refresher stint as well.
Turning 27 solid laps, Enerson pitted and a leak was readily visible at the right-rear corner as the inner halfshaft boot became separated from the constant-velocity joint, spraying its grease behind the car and throughout the suspension and transmission area. Prior to the mechanical issue, Enerson was cruising to complete his ROP with ease.
“I tell you what, that first stage is tough,” he said of holding his speed below 210mph.” The second we got over 210s, it felt incredible. I just wish we could have done more laps. I didn’t feel anything, but we’re glad we caught it when we did. We only have six laps to complete, so hopefully we can do that later this afternoon.”
— NTT INDYCAR SERIES (@IndyCar) May 18, 2021
The team later confirmed it would not resume on-track activities on Tuesday.
A caution flag followed to inspect the track for any fluids and debris shed by the No. 75 Chevy. Returning to green with 35 minutes left to run, Hildebrand and Wilson got busy with their refresher work. Hildebrand completed his refresher requirements and Wilson, who produced 45 laps, came within 7 of finishing his refresher duties and was expected to do so as the two-hour session for the full field began moments later.