Karam Tops Monday Practice

Sage Karam practices for 2018 Indy 500 in Turn 1
Sage Karam put his Chevrolet-powered, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing-entered car atop the speed chart for the eighth practice ahead of the 2018 Indy 500. | Photo: Andy Clary / Spacesuit Media

All 33 cars set to start the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 took to the 2.5-mile oval on Monday for a three-hour practice session that was paced by Dreyer & Reinbold Racing’s Sage Karam.

With boost levels back to normal after being raised for Fast Friday and two days of qualifying, Karam sped around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at 226.461 mph in his No. 24 Chevrolet. His quickest lap of the day came on the 10th of his 71-lap outing. Karam’s DRR teammate J.R. Hildebrand was 15th fastest in the session.

Tony Kanaan made it two Chevrolets up front with a 225.123 mph lap in his No. 14 car for AJ Foyt Racing.

Ryan Hunter-Reay earned the distinction of being the fastest Honda-backed driver with a 224.820 mph lap in his yellow DHL-liveried car. The Andretti Autosport driver was followed closely on the speed chart by Carlin’s Charlie Kimball with a best speed of 224.582 mph.

Alexander Rossi, who placed himself 32nd on the starting grid after a difficult qualifying run on Sunday, completed the top five and gave Honda a second representative in the group.

Will Power, Helio Castroneves, Marco Andretti, Zachary Claman De Melo and Scott Dixon were sixth through 10th fastest, allowing Honda and Chevrolet to evenly split the top 10.

Practice was slowed by three yellow flags, with the first being the most significant.

Just 19 minutes after the rain-delayed 1 p.m. EDT start, Robert Wickens made contact with the SAFER Barrier at the exit of Turn 2. He continued down the backstretch in his damaged car, which abruptly turned right right and went straight into the wall. Seriously damaged, the car continued skidding along the track before coming to a rest in Turn 3. Wickens was later checked, cleared and released from the infield care center.

After its star driver, James Hinchcliffe, was bumped from the field of 33, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports is tasked with repairing Robert Wickens’ car. | Photo: Andy Clary / Spacesuit Media

The subsequent two yellow flags were for track inspections.

The last chance for this year’s Indy 500 starters to practice will be Friday, May 25 from 11 a.m. to noon. After that brief session, which will air live on NBCSN, the “500” itself will be all that remains of the month of May in Indianapolis. The race will go green on May 27 at 12:21 p.m.

What do you think?