INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Before Indianapolis Motor Speedway opened practice for the full field of 33, five first-timers hit the oval for rookie orientation, Monday afternoon.
“It was all business really,” said Stefan Wilson of KV Racing. “The whole day was just focused on the laps that we just ran. You spend so much time focusing on that, you don’t really get to absorb the rest of it.”
Wilson could (albiet briefly) absorb his surroundings while answering a few questions, and several personal firsts stuck out.
“I haven’t driven an IndyCar on an oval before,” he added. “I haven’t driven an IndyCar here at IMS before, so it’s great to get out there, shake the rust off, and run laps at over 215 miles an hour.”
The rookie orientation program (ROP) requires Indy 500 first-timers to pass two phases of a three-phase test in order to participate in the remaining practices:
Phase 1 – Turn 10 laps at greater than 210 mph.
Phase 2 – Turn 15 laps at greater than 215 mph.
Phase 3 – Turn 15 laps at greater than 220 mph.
— Dave Griffiths (@DaveG_Sports) May 16, 2016
“We only got about 40 laps in,” said Wilson. “We’re just trying to go through the first two phases of ROP, and we were able to do that. That was the goal today.
“It’s pretty hard to hit those numbers. You’re capped at 210 and then 215 for 25 laps, so you want to let loose and go and you’ve got to predict what speed you’re running, so it makes it tricky. We’re glad to go through those two, and now we can go and run with the rest of them.”
With phase three still there to complete, Wilson will undoubtedly continue his “all business” approach. At least most of the time.
“I’ve been told to take a moment and take it all in,” smiled Wilson. “Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to do that this week.”