INDIANAPOLIS — Three drivers who will try to make their first start in the Indianapolis 500 next May took part in a test session on Wednesday to clear their first hurdle towards that goal.
Marcus Armstrong, Thom Blomqvist, and Linus Lundqvist all turned several hundred laps between them as they completed their rookie orientation program (ROP).
“It was special, honestly,” said Armstrong. “I didn’t — I didn’t know what to expect in many ways coming here.”
But, Armstrong said having testing experience at Texas paid big dividends in his approach to the testing day. Armstrong has signed to drive the full season next year with Chip Ganassi Racing. He was on a road/street course-only program in 2023.
“To drive on this circuit at proper speeds after phase 3, I would say still it’s a long way off (qualifying) speed, but it was incredible,” he said. “I have watched this place since I was a kid.”
Thom Blomqvist got his first taste of oval driving in the test. Lundqvist, another new Ganassi driver, has oval experience having driven in Indy NXT, but this, like the other two, was his first crack at the IMS Oval.
After a fiasco with his car stopping on course in the morning session of the test, Lundqvist was able to breeze through the ROP requirements and then use some of the session to begin dialing in his car.
“Getting through the program, you have to do it, you have to pass. Then you’re done with it,” Lundqvist said. “After that, you’re actually able to get in to try a little setup work and just play with yourself as well in the sense where you try different lines and get comfortable with everything.”
With all three drivers completing their rookie testing, they are now eligible to practice with the veterans when practice begins for the 108th running of the Indianapolis 500 in the middle of May.
On Thursday, another “rookie” will try to complete his rookie orientation. Former NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson will take his Arrow McLaren ride out on the oval for the first time. It will be Larson’s first-ever experience in an Indy car.
Larson had raced before on the IMS Oval, but it was in a stock car at the Brickyard 400.
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