Dixon Paces Opening Indy 500 Practice

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Scott Dixon paced the opening practice for the upcoming Indianapolis 500. (IndyCar Photo)
Scott Dixon paced the opening practice for the upcoming Indianapolis 500. (IndyCar Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS – Five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion and 2008 Indianapolis 500 winner Scott Dixon was the fastest driver in Wednesday’s opening session of practice for the 104th Indianapolis 500.

The two-hour session that ran from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. was for Indianapolis 500 veterans only. It will be followed by Rookie Orientation Program and refresher laps before all drivers will be allowed to compete in another round of practice later today.

“Decent start, just trying to get through some items we have on the list,” Dixon said. “It’s a pretty extensive list, especially with the condensed scheduled. It’s a totally new car for me with Michael Cannon as the engineer and a few offseason projects. We are heading in the right direction.

“First practice doesn’t mean anything. We are trying to get the car comfortable in traffic and so far, it seems to be pretty good. The aeroscreen when we first tested it seemed to affect the car aerodynamically, but today it felt normal. The vision is good, way less buffeting, it’s doing it’s job.”

Dixon’s No. 9 PNC Bank Honda turned a fast lap at 224.047 mph. Defending NTT IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden followed at 223.188 mph in the No. 1 Team Penske Chevrolet.

James Hinchcliffe, who is returning Andretti Autosport for the Indianapolis 500, was third at 223.071 mph in a Honda. Tony Kanaan’s No. 14 Chevrolet was fourth for A.J. Foyt Racing. Kanaan won the 2013 Indianapolis 500.

Two more former Indianapolis 500 winners were next with 2014 victor Ryan Hunter-Reay fifth at 221.884 mph in the No. 28 DHL Honda for Andretti Autosport. Takuma Sato, the winner of the 101st Indianapolis 500 in 2017, was sixth at 221.838 mph in the No. 30 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda.

Three-time Indianapolis 500 pole winner Ed Carpenter was seventh at 221.813 mph.

Former NASCAR Cup winning crew chief Cole Pearn, who is working with Conor Daly at this year’s Indianapolis 500 for Ed Carpenter Racing, spoke about his first experience preparing for the Indianapolis 500.

“It went fine, the car didn’t flip over and catch fire or anything, so that was a good start,” Pearn said. “There are a lot of nuances that are different, but other than that, there were a lot of things we got through. Now, we know what to work on.

“It’s been really easy working with Conor. We’ve hit it off. That’s the best way to describe it, it’s been easy. Having a session under there, we continue to build.”