IndyCar: Honda Leads First Indy 500 Practice

May 16, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Verizon Indy Car driver Marco Andretti sits in his car during practice for the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
May 16, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Verizon Indy Car driver Marco Andretti sits in his car during practice for the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports /

Practice is underway for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500. The big story from the first day of Verizon IndyCar Series practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is all about the engine manufacturers. Honda, which has struggled to keep pace in the opening few events of the season, managed to lead the way on the speed chart. Chevrolet teams were not far behind, however, as speeds crept above 225 mph and lurked near the magic 230 mph mark.

It remains to be seen whether or not Honda can compete with Chevrolet on Race Day, but speeds from today’s practice session may indicate a turning point for the Japanese brand. Honda took seven of the top ten spots on the speed chart. Andretti Autosport, which has also struggled in the early part of the season, led the way with Marco Andretti, Carlos Munoz, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Townsend Bell, and Alexander Rossi all finding spots at or near the top of the chart. Andretti had the fastest lap of the day at a speed of 228.978 mph.

Chevrolet-powered teams lurked just behind the Hondas. The top speed for a Chevrolet car was laid down by Scott Dixon, who turned a lap at 226.835 mph.

When looking at today’s speed chart, there are two factors that should be kept in mind. First, not all of these speeds were posted on single flying laps, but instead may have come from a tow. For instance, several of the Andretti cars ran together for much of the day and their draft may have helped pull a teammate around the speedway resulting in a faster speed. It’s also important to note that we don’t know yet which teams were working on qualifying set-ups or race set-ups. It’s a fair assumption to say most of the cars were in race trim because today’s car specifications are closer to Race Day specifications than those that will be in place on Pole Day.

However, along with the live speed chart on IndyCar’s website, the series did post a chart showing the fastest laps set without a tow. It’s interesting to note that Honda also led the way on that chart though speeds were markedly slower. Townsend Bell, in an Andretti Autosport car, put up an unaided lap of 223.940 mph and was followed in the Top 5 from that chart by Honda drivers Andretti, Hunter-Reay, Munoz, and Graham Rahal.

Above all, it is encouraging to see Honda cars matching or exceeding the pace set by the Chevrolet cars regardless of tow or non-tow laps. It’s also encouraging to see teams keeping pace while running in traffic. That could be an early indicator of the quality of racing fans will get to see when the green flag waves on the last Sunday in May.

Here is the full speed chart from Practice Day One at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

(Speeds include laps laid down behind a tow)

  1. Marco Andretti, Honda, Andretti Autosport, 228.978 mph
  2. Carlos Munoz, Honda, Andretti Autosport, 228.945 mph
  3. Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, Andretti Autosport, 228.033 mph
  4. Alexander Rossi, Honda, Andretti Autosport, 226.865 mph
  5. Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing Teams, 226.835
  6. Townsend Bell, Honda, Andretti Autosport, 226.724 mph
  7. Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing Teams, 225.858 mph
  8. Graham Rahal, Honda, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, 225.326
  9. Will Power, Chevrolet, Team Penske, 224.981 mph
  10. Bryan Clauson, Honda, Dale Coyne Racing, 224.767 mph
  11. Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, Ed Carpenter Racing, 224.738 mph
  12. Max Chilton, Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing Teams, 224.639 mph
  13. Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, Team Penske, 224.613 mph
  14. Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, Ed Carpenter Racing, 224.495 mph
  15. Gabby Chaves, Honda, Dale Coyne Racing, 224.387 mph
  16. Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, Team Penske, 224.322 mph
  17. Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing Teams, 224.265 mph
  18. Sage Karam, Chevrolet, DRR-Kingdom Racing, 224.065 mph
  19. Oriol Servia, Honda, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, 224.042 mph
  20. Takuma Sato, Honda, A.J. Foyt Racing, 223.826 mph
  21. Pippa Mann, Honda, Dale Coyne Racing, 223.522 mph
  22. Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, KV Racing Technology, 225.055 mph
  23. JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, Ed Carpenter Racing, 222.901 mph
  24. Spencer Pigot, Honda, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, 222.816 mph
  25. Matt Brabham, Chevrolet, Pirtek Team Murray, 222.578 mph
  26. Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, 222.486 mph
  27. Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, Team Penske, 222.013 mph
  28. Stefan Wilson, Chevrolet, KV Racing Technology, 222.007 mph
  29. James Hinchcliffe, Honda, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, 221.319 mph
  30. Alex Tagliani, Honda, A.J. Foyt Racing, 220.715 mph
  31. Conor Daly, Honda, Dale Coyne Racing, 217.627 mph
  32. Jack Hawksworth, Honda, A.J. Foyt Racing, 213.586 mph
  33. Buddy Lazier, Chevrolet, Lazier-Burns Racing, 212.641 mph

OTHER PRACTICE NOTES: 1. Only one Team Penske driver, Will Power, managed to crack the Top Ten of the overall speed chart. 2. The fastest rookie of the day was Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi at 226.865 mph. 3. Dirt car ace Bryan Clauson found speed and took the tenth spot on the overall speed chart. 4. 1996 Indy 500 champion Buddy Lazier ran just a few installation laps, but so far appears to on pace with the cars around him.

Next: IndyCar Returns To Watkins Glen

All 33 cars on the Indianapolis 500 entry list are expected to be back on track tomorrow of Day Two of practice. The session runs from Noon to 6:00 p.m. and will include any Rookie Orientation or Veteran Refresher phases that need to be completed. Practice sessions are not broadcast on television, but live video and audio from the track will be streamed on