Andretti Quickest On Opening Day
May 6, 2007 | 5:51 P.M. EST
While today's focus was on the Rookie Orientation Program designed to test and ease rookies into competing at the 2.5-mile speedway, it was a veteran who stole the spotlight.
Michael Andretti, partial owner of Andretti Green Racing and driver of the No. 39 Dallara-Honda this month, set a fast lap of 219.871 mph during his 11-lap run to set the fastest lap of the session.
Andretti took advantage of the day's refresher time, which allows competitors who are competing in a "one-off" type deal to get used to their cars before full field practice begins next week. Others who did the same were Ryan Briscoe, Davey Hamilton, Jaques Lazier and Jon Herb.
"It was great to get back out there today, get a few laps in and get all of the cobwebs out," Andretti said. "I'm looking forward to a great month of May."
Briscoe finished just behind Andretti with a late afternoon fast lap of 218.126 mph, followed by Hamilton (218.022 mph), Lazier (216.467 mph) and rookie Milka Duno (214.128 mph).
Duno, the Venezulean-born rookie who made her IndyCar Series debut last week at Kansas Speedway, ran a total of 79 laps, the most on Sunday, before stopping for the day after a cut right rear tire in the early afternoon.
Even with the short day, the driver of the No. 23 Citgo Dallara-Honda successfully completed the four-phase rookie orientation test.
"I understand now why drivers say Indianapolis is the most difficult track in the world," said Duno. "Everything happens so quick, so fast. You have to be precise in every corner. All four corners are different. You have to drive with so much concentration and focus and so precisely."
Herb was sixth on the speed charts, 211.697 mph, with rookie Phil Giebler rounding out the field with a quick lap of 209.387 mph.
Giebler only completed two of four phases of his rookie test, but he has more than enough time tomorrow.
"I wanted to go out there and get a good feel for the track. I really just wanted to get out there," said Giebler. "The car feels good. The guys made it really safe, and easy for me to drive. There was a bit of understeer, but I think picking up speed will take care of that."
The second day of the Rookie Orientation Program takes place tomorrow from noon – 5 p.m. (ET), while the first full field practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is scheduled for Tuesday.