May 12, 2012  |   By Arni Sribhen

Rookie Newgarden Leads Opening Day At Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Rookie Josef Newgarden topped the timesheets as preparations began for the 96th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on May 12 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Newgarden, who won the Freedom 100 Firestone Indy Lights race at Indianapolis in 2011, posted the quickest lap on the 2.5-mile oval of 220.250 mph in the No. 67 Dollar General car for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing.

The top three cars of the session were driven by American graduates of Firestone Indy Lights.
JR Hildebrand, the 2011 race runner-up and Chase Rookie of the Year, was second quick (219.693 mph) in the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet and Newgarden’s teammate, Bryan Clauson (219.632) was third in the No. 39 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing/RW Honda.

Another rookie, James Jakes (219.286), was fourth in the Boy Scouts of America Honda while Tony Kanaan (217.741) completed the top five in the No. 11T GEICO/Mouser Electronics KV Racing Technology Chevrolet.

In all, 26 drivers recorded 693 incident-free laps in the six-hour session.

Drivers will get 36 more hours of track time, weather permitting (and the forecast is favorable), through “Fast Friday” before Pole Day qualifications May 19 in testing the new engine/aero kit package. Gates open at 10 a.m. May 13 for the Mother’s Day special of noon-6 p.m. practice.