On Sunday, May 11, IndyCar engines whirred around the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the opening practice for the ninety-eighth running of the Indianapolis 500. Practice on Indianapolis Motor Speedway's (IMS) 2.5-mile oval began less than 24 hours after the checkered flag flew for the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the IMS road course.
"Going between a road course and an oval that quickly is strange," Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing full-season driver Josef Newgarden said. "But it felt really good. Indianapolis is always amazing when you get up to speed the first time. You get that sensation, and I got that today."
Newgarden drove just five laps in his No. 67 SFHR Dallara/Honda/Firestone entry. He reached 216.257 mph to place 23rd on the speed chart out of 24 cars that ran laps on the opening day of practice.
"It was a short day for us," Newgarden said. "We did a couple of laps, got our install done, so that's always good to get the car out on the first day and check everything over. We found some gremlins, but we will be in full force tomorrow trying to work on our setup."
The newest member of SFHR's team for the Indianapolis 500 is 2011 pole winner Alex Tagliani, who turned his first Verizon IndyCar Series laps of the 2014 season Sunday afternoon. Tagliani finished the day 17th fastest at 219.557 mph.
"For me, it was just about getting the rust off," Tagliani said. "It's exciting. I really like being back in the car. We have high expectations, so hopefully we can do well this month."
Opening Day of the Indianapolis 500 was very memorable for SFHR co-owner Sarah Fisher, as she waved the green flag at the start of practice in honor of Mother's Day. IMS president Doug Boles presented Fisher with a Mother's Day gift basket, as Fisher expects her second child next month.
"It was really special," Fisher said. "Not only because I am a mom and expecting and I had my daughter (Zoey) with me, but my mom (Reba Fisher) was here, as well. She got to wave the green flag in 2004, so it made sense for all of us to be out here on Mother's Day and Opening Day."
Qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 will have a new format this year and race fans will be able to watch the action live on ABC-TV and on ESPN3, ESPN’s live, multi-screen sports network, on Saturday and Sunday, May 17-18 from Indianapolis Motor Speedway. ESPN3 is accessible online at WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app and streamed on televisions through ESPN on Xbox LIVE to Gold members, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Roku. Verizon IndyCar Series drivers will be deciding the 33-car starting grid for the May 25 running of the Indianapolis 500, which will air live on ABC. Check local listings for times.
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