Opening Day of the 98th running of the Indianapolis 500 was exciting yet different Sunday, May 11 for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing. Practice on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s (IMS) 2.5-mile oval began less than 24 hours after the checkered flag flew for the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the IMS road course.
“Going between a road course and an oval that quickly is strange,” SFHR full-season driver Josef Newgarden said. “But it felt really good. Indianapolis is always amazing when you get up to speed the first time. You get that sensation, and I got that today.”
Newgarden drove just five laps in his No. 67 SFHR Dallara/Honda/Firestone entry. He reached 216.257 mph to place 23rd on the speed chart out of 24 cars that ran laps on the opening day of practice.
“It was a short day for us,” Newgarden said. “We did a couple of laps, got our install done, so that’s always good to get the car out on the first day and check everything over. We found some gremlins, but we will be in full force tomorrow trying to work on our setup.
“Everything on the car felt good handling-wise, so I am encouraged by that. We did a lot of work last year on the handling of the car, so I think we have a good base to start from this year.”
The newest member of SFHR’s team for the Indianapolis 500 is 2011 pole winner Alex Tagliani, who turned his first Verizon IndyCar Series laps of the 2014 season Sunday afternoon. Tagliani finished the day 17th fastest at 219.557 mph.
“It was a really nice day,” Tagliani said. “I really love working with the team, and they did a great job preparing the car. It was pretty much a problem-free day. We were taking it easy and learning things as we were going.
“For me, it was just about getting the rust off. It’s exciting. I really like being back in the car. We have high expectations, so hopefully we can do well this month.”
Opening Day of the Indianapolis 500 was very memorable for SFHR co-owner Sarah Fisher, as she waved the green flag at the start of practice in honor of Mother’s Day. IMS president Doug Boles presented Fisher with a Mother’s Day gift basket, as Fisher expects her second child next month.
“It was really special,” Fisher said. “Not only because I am a mom and expecting and I had my daughter (Zoey) with me, but my mom (Reba Fisher) was here, as well. She got to wave the green flag in 2004, so it made sense for all of us to be out here on Mother’s Day and Opening Day.”
Indianapolis 500 practice resumes from noon-6 p.m. (ET) Monday, May 12. For the latest news, photos and video, follow @SFHRindy on Twitter and Instagram, and like Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing on Facebook.