Editor's note: See results for both morning and afternoon sessions, as well as video highlights, at the bottom of this file.
INDIANAPOLIS – Two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Takuma Sato turned the fastest lap in the final five minutes of Tuesday’s opening practice for the May 29 race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but Chip Ganassi Racing showed its strength in numbers with five drivers in the top 10.
Sato drove his Dale Coyne Racing Honda to a lap of 228.939 mph on the 2 ½-mile speedway, using the benefit of a draft running with a large pack of cars on a day when teams focused on race setup. His speed was more than one mile per hour faster than Ganassi star Scott Dixon, whose best lap of 227.768 ranked No. 1 for most of the afternoon session before Sato’s late run.
“Scott was on top (most) of the day, but we just had a big tow on the last lap, so I guess (I’m) happy,” Sato said. “To be honest, the morning (practice) wasn’t as smooth as we wished. We had to go back to the garage … because there were some things we were not very happy with.”
Dixon had plenty of company near the top with his Ganassi teammates, including seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, who’ll drive in his first Indy 500. Johnson’s lap of 227.722 mph was third best, with Ganassi teammate Marcus Ericsson fourth at 227.094.
Defending NTT IndyCar Series champion Alex Palou was sixth at 226.973 mph and former 500 champion Tony Kanaan, running the race in a one-off entry with Ganassi, was ninth at 226.292 mph.
“The day was pretty good I think for all of the Ganassi cars,” Dixon said. “They rolled off well, trying to get through the test.”
Dixon wasn’t surprised at the early speed by Johnson, who also was strong on the IMS oval at an open test in April.
“Kind of what I expected, to be honest,” Dixon said of Johnson. “He was quick at the test. He feels obviously a lot more comfortable. I think he’s done a really good job each time he’s been here. He was fast all day.”
Sato’s teammate, rookie David Malukas, was seventh fastest at 226.973.
Josef Newgarden was eighth, 226.368, to lead Team Penske, with former winner Will Power 16th and Scott McLaughlin 22nd.
Marco Andretti, racing an Indy-only program with Andretti Autosport, was 10th fastest, with teammates Devlin DeFrancesco 11th, Alexander Rossi 27th and Romain Grosjean 31st.
Rinus VeeKay of Ed Carpenter Racing led the no-tow list (without the benefit of the draft) at 221.552 mph.
Eight of the 10 fastest were Honda-powered cars, with VeeKay and Newgarden the only Chevy drivers in that group. Dixon said it’s too early to say Honda will have such a decided edge the rest of the month.
“It’s Day 1,” he said. “I don’t think we’ve seen anything from anyone yet.”
Thirty-three drivers combined to turn 3,229 incident-free laps under sunny skies during the two veteran practice sessions today. Veteran Stefan Wilson completed his refresher test during a midday session in the No. 25 DragonSpeed/Cusick Motorsports Chevrolet and then participated briefly in the afternoon open practice session.
Dalton Kellett turned 149 laps in the No. 4 K-LINE AJ FOYT RACING Chevrolet, more than any other driver.
Practice resumes from noon-6 p.m. (ET) Wednesday (live on Peacock Premium), with PPG Presents Armed Forces Qualifying this Saturday and Sunday. The 106th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge is scheduled for Sunday, May 29.