INDIANAPOLIS — Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato was fastest on the first full day of practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 2023 edition of The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
The No. 11 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda set a fastest lap of 229.439 mph around the 2.5-mile oval, besting teammate Scott Dixon’s best lap by a little under three tenths of a mile per hour.
Sato was fastest in last year’s first practice session when he was at Dale Coyne Racing. In 2023, the Japanese racer is on a part-time oval-based schedule that has no guarantees of continuing after Indianapolis.
“I think my future is wide open, and really there’s nothing guaranteed in the world,” Sato said. “It’s been a privilege to drive for Chip Ganassi Racing for the Indy 500, but just entirely focusing for this race first, and of course I’m representing on the No. 11 car for the rest of the season and hopefully two ovals more, too.”
Sato has been assisting Marcus Armstrong as the rookie has driving duties for the No. 11 Honda in the road and street course races.
Third fastest for A. J. Foyt Racing was Santino Ferrucci in the No. 14 Chevrolet. Ferrucci’s fastest lap was 228.977 mph and the Connecticut native was the fastest Chevrolet entry.
This is a large turnaround for the Foyt Racing crew as Ferrucci was 25th fastest in April’s open test at IMS.
“We weren’t strong on the open test at all, but we didn’t really have everything together,” Ferrucci said. “And to have all that extra day, especially the rain day yesterday to roll out today and to immediately just be comfortable was really, really nice. I haven’t been this comfortable in a couple of years.”
Fourth fastest was Alex Palou in the No. 10 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda ahead of Scott McLaughlin in the No. 3 Team Penske Chevrolet.
Graham Rahal’s very light brush with the wall in the north short chute between Turns 3 and 4 was the only wall contact all day. Rahal returned to the track to eventually complete 79 laps after a car inspection.
On the no-tow speed chart, Rinus VeeKay led the field with a fastest lap of 223.212 mph in the No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet. VeeKay’s eponymous team owner was second on the non-tow chart at 222.341 mph. If there is no car 10 seconds in front of a car turning laps, then IndyCar classifies that car as completing non-tow laps. The leading car would disturb the air enough that a car following within 10 seconds would pick up a significant gain of speed.
VeeKay was 18th on the overall speed chart while Carpenter was 28th.
Wednesday was the first full day of practice for the 2023 Indianapolis 500 after Tuesday’s sessions were rained out. All 34 drivers turned a total of 3,450 laps to complete 8,625 miles.
Thursday’s six hours of track time begins at noon, ET with live coverage on Peacock.