Opening Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is in the books, but there’s still plenty of on-track action to come. Here are some items to watch during this week in practice for the Indianapolis 500:
Wacky Weather: Last year Indianapolis Motor Speedway was a sweltering sauna, but this year has been cold and windy thus far. Thanks to that, large-scale track action has been limited, though drivers such as Josef Newgarden and some of the Andretti Autosport drivers have put in some solid laps. The forecast for the week looks to be up and down, and if the wind gusts keep up, that could affect running even further. What can we say, except that it’s Indy in May? It comes with the territory.
Team Turnaround: We’re still waiting on Dale Coyne Racing to get in their first laps of the month in, and as mentioned above, multiple teams have done only a handful of lamps. Accordingly, it’s been tough to get a bead on where teams are shaking out so far. As teams get cars further prepped and ready, we should get a much better idea of just which teams are finding their groove at IMS.
Rise of the Rookies: Carlos Muñoz used a bit of a team tow to turn the fastest lap in Sunday practice, and so far the rookies have managed to fare rather nicely on the track. Along with Andretti’s Muñoz, drivers Tristan Vautier and AJ Allmendinger passed Rookie Orientation with few issues. We’ll have to see how AJ Foyt Enterprises driver Conor Daly does through the week, but thus far it’s a promising rookie class—if they can keep it up.
Buddy Lazier Gears Up: Details have continued to come forth on the Lazier Partners Racing effort for 1996 Indy 500 champ Buddy Lazier. The team seems to be compromised of assets and personnel from Hemelgarn Racing and Conquest Racing. Though the team’s garage was largely empty this weekend, the plan is for the team to get some laps in by mid-week. How the respected veteran and this new hybrid team will perform together continues to be one of the biggest points of intrigue this May.
Car Rumors Continue: Sam Schmidt has said his 99 car will likely not be running until later in the week, or possibly as a Bump Day alternative, but there’s still some doubt just who would be in that car. Buddy Rice, Jay Howard, or perhaps even Katherine Legge have all been mentioned, though you’d have to think that a Bump Day run would want someone with seat time in the DW12. It’s the sort of loose end that drives Indy 500 fans crazy, and probably will until the gun sounds next Sunday.
Zachary Houghton runs www.indycaradvocate.com, which features regularly-updated INDYCAR, IZOD IndyCar Series, and Mazda Road to Indy interviews, commentary, and more. You can find him on Twitter (@indycaradvocate), or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.