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Juan Pablo Montoya was one of several returning veterans to complete the refresher course Thursday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (IndyCar Photo)

Refresher Course Closes Long Day At Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS – A very long day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway that went into overtime because of rain ended with a fast session involving rookies and part-time veterans.

That refresher course featured four-time Champ Car Series champion Sebastien Bourdais topping the charts with a fast lap of 224.472 mph in the No. 14 Chevrolet for A.J. Foyt Racing. Veteran driver Sage Karam was second at 222.048 mph in the Dreyer & Reinbold Chevrolet followed by three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves’ Meyer Shank Racing Honda at 221.097 mph.

Andretti Autosport veteran James Hinchcliffe was fourth at 219.974 mph in the No. 29 Honda, with Ed Jones of Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan rounding out the top-five at 219.612 mph.

Just outside the top-five was two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya at 219.109 mph

Other drivers in the rookie/refresher session included Simon De Silvestro at 218.927 mph in a Chevrolet, Dalton Kellett in the No. 4 Chevrolet at 217.846 mph, Pietro Fittipaldi at 217.410 mph in the Dale Coyne Honda, Max Chilton at 216.963 mph in the Carlin Chevrolet and NASCAR driver Cody Ware at 214.876 mph in a Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing Honda.

Because a lengthy rain delay that wiped out most of the open test for veterans, track activity will begin Friday at 9 a.m. and is expected to run until at least 4 p.m. ET.

After nearly getting the track dry enough to return to testing, rain that started at 3:14 p.m. ET Thursday ended up leading to the cancellation of the rest of Thursday’s open test. Testing was halted after less than two hours due to rain earlier in the day.

Conor Daly was the fastest full-time driver of the day with a fast lap at 222.714 mph in the No. 47 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet. He was followed by Ed Carpenter at 221.296 mph in the No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet.

Six-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon was third in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda at 220.575 mph followed by a pair of Arrow McLaren SP drivers, Felix Rosenqvist and Pato O’Ward, after both drivers turned laps at 220.360 mph and 220.233 mph, respectively.

Very early in the session, second-year driver Rinus VeeKay, the 2020 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year, crashed his Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet in the first turn. VeeKay suffered a broken finger in the crash, but has since been cleared to drive.

“Not the way we had exactly hoped it would go,” owner/driver Carpenter said of VeeKay’s crash. “You never want to lose one of your three cars kind of in the first 10 minutes of the session. That was a bit of a bumpy way to start the test.

“We do have three cars, so Conor and I carried on. We were able to get a little bit of work done. By the time Rinus’ yellow and cleanup was done, we had about 90 minutes of track activity, but probably only 45, 50 minutes of that by the time you get installs done.

“We were able to get a couple changes in really just to establish a baseline. There’s a lot to do now tomorrow, a lot of new parts to test. We were able to test some of them last fall. There’s a lot to work through to be ready for when we come back for Indy 500 prep.”

Carpenter explained how Friday’s final day of open testing will cram two days’ worth of race preparation into one final day.

“We’ll do the best we can,” Carpenter said. “You would always take more time if you could get it. At the end of the day, for the most part, everyone is going to have the same opportunity to have the same amount of track time.

“I don’t worry about it too much. Weather and changing schedules are something we’ve all gotten quite adept at over the past year. Looks like it’s going to be a better weather day tomorrow. The six hours will go quick.

“Some of the things we wanted to do, it would have been nice to have our session, lunch break, go back out and do some longer changeover types of things that we may have to scrap till we come back.

“If we can be efficient, we can still get through everything we wanted to, at least the big items.”

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