Sato beats Dixon with high-228mph lap on Day 1 of Indy 500 practice

Takuma Sato

Takuma Sato has set the pace on Day 1 of practice for the Indianapolis 500, with fellow race winner Scott Dixon and rookie Jimmie Johnson making up the top three.

Sato notched up only four laps in Practice 1 but set an average speed of 228.939mph (368.442km/h) on his second-last lap of the day in the #51 Dale Coyne Racing w/ RWR Honda, usurping Dixon by more than a full mile per hour.

The 2008 Indy 500 winner, by way of contrast, had been fastest since his very first lap in Practice 2 of 227.768mph (366.557km/h) in the #9 Chip Ganassi Racing car, having also gone fastest in the morning hit-out on a 227.119mph (365.513km/h).

Only slightly slower than Dixon was first-timer Johnson, who left it late to set a 227.722mph (366.483km/h) in the #48 entry which ensured that Ganassi cars filled positions two through four, as well as sixth.

Marcus Ericsson had already laid down a 227.094mph (365.472km/h) in Car #8, and 2021 IndyCar champion Alex Palou set a 226.973mph (365.278km/h) in the #10 Honda.

With IndyCar rookie David Malukas (#18 DCR w/ HMD Motorsports) also in the mid-226s, it meant that the only Chevrolet-powered driver in the top seven was Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay, whose best lap was a 226.995mph (365.313km/h).

On non-tow laps, however, VeeKay was the fastest in the session with a 221.551mph (356.552km/h), although Tony Kanaan had gone even quicker in Practice 1 with a 221.662mph (356.730km/h) in the fifth Ganassi car.

For reference, the fastest lap on the opening day of the 2021 Indy 500 was a 226.470mph set by Team Penske’s Will Power, while his team-mate Josef Newgarden topped last month’s Open Test with a 229.519mph effort.

As far as non-tow laps were concerned, VeeKay also set the pace in that April outing with a 221.314mph on the second and final day.

On Day 1 of the 500 event itself, the practice top 10 was rounded out by Sage Karam (#24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing) in eighth, from Newgarden and Kanaan.

New series leader Will Power, who is chasing a second Indianapolis 500 triumph to add to that which he achieved in 2018, ended up 18th on a 225.432mph (362.798km/h).

His Penske team-mate Scott McLaughlin, like Karam, set his fastest lap in Practice 1, a 225.330mph (362.633km/h) which put the #3 Chevrolet 20th on combined times.

The day ran with relatively little drama, although there was a Caution during Practice 2 when a fox ended up on the race track.

Also notable was that Stefan Wilson, driving the #25 DragonSpeed/Cusick Motorsports Chevrolet, passed his Veteran Refresher Test.

That entry was the last confirmed for the race in the gruelling quest for a full field of 33 cars, and hence Wilson had not had a chance to drive during April’s test.

It led to the unusual situation whereby the Briton had the track to himself for the middle session of the day to undertake the refresher programme.

Action resumes tomorrow morning with another six hours of practice from 02:00 AEST.

This weekend’s two days of qualifying will be streamed live and ad-free on Stan Sport.

Results: Day 1 Combined

Pos Num Driver C/E/T Fastest lap Speed (mph) Session Total laps
1 51 Takuma Sato D/H/F 0:39.3118 228.939 Prac 2 68
2 9 Scott Dixon D/H/F 0:39.5139 227.768 Prac 2 75
3 48 Jimmie Johnson D/H/F 0:39.5219 227.722 Prac 2 108
4 8 Marcus Ericsson D/H/F 0:39.6311 227.094 Prac 2 104
5 21 Rinus VeeKay D/C/F 0:39.6484 226.995 Prac 2 114
6 10 Alex Palou D/H/F 0:39.6523 226.973 Prac 2 94
7 18 David Malukas D/H/F 0:39.7443 226.448 Prac 2 101
8 24 Sage Karam D/C/F 0:39.7530 226.398 Prac 1 89
9 2 Josef Newgarden D/C/F 0:39.7583 226.368 Prac 2 111
10 1 Tony Kanaan D/H/F 0:39.7716 226.292 Prac 2 69
11 98 Marco Andretti D/H/F 0:39.8080 226.085 Prac 2 109
12 29 Devlin DeFrancesco D/H/F 0:39.8363 225.925 Prac 2 98
13 60 Simon Pagenaud D/H/F 0:39.8411 225.897 Prac 2 110
14 4 Dalton Kellett D/C/F 0:39.8520 225.836 Prac 2 149
15 11 JR Hildebrand D/C/F 0:39.8560 225.813 Prac 2 102
16 7 Felix Rosenqvist D/C/F 0:39.8655 225.759 Prac 2 116
17 20 Conor Daly D/C/F 0:39.8839 225.655 Prac 1 97
18 12 Will Power D/C/F 0:39.9234 225.432 Prac 2 105
19 23 Santino Ferrucci D/C/F 0:39.9357 225.362 Prac 1 70
20 3 Scott McLaughlin D/C/F 0:39.9415 225.330 Prac 1 124
21 15 Graham Rahal D/H/F 0:39.9917 225.047 Prac 2 92
22 06 Helio Castroneves D/H/F 0:40.0128 224.928 Prac 2 131
23 77 Callum Ilott D/C/F 0:40.0133 224.925 Prac 2 88
24 5 Pato O’Ward D/C/F 0:40.0142 224.920 Prac 1 110
25 45 Jack Harvey D/H/F 0:40.0157 224.912 Prac 2 132
26 14 Kyle Kirkwood D/C/F 0:40.0526 224.705 Prac 2 103
27 30 Christian Lundgaard D/H/F 0:40.1232 224.309 Prac 2 118
28 26 Colton Herta D/H/F 0:40.1259 224.294 Prac 2 97
29 27 Alexander Rossi D/H/F 0:40.1399 224.216 Prac 2 95
30 33 Ed Carpenter D/C/F 0:40.1583 224.113 Prac 2 86
31 6 Juan Pablo Montoya D/C/F 0:40.1913 223.929 Prac 2 56
32 28 Romain Grosjean D/H/F 0:40.3705 222.935 Prac 2 98
33 25 Stefan Wilson D/C/F 0:40.4983 222.232 Prac 2 10

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