Rookie Orientation Program Wednesday, Thursday; Hybrid Testing Thursday, Friday
Four drivers will attempt this week to complete the Rookie Orientation Program for the 108th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, but it’s safe to say one of them will be under a more intense spotlight.
While this test is an important step at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for full-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers Marcus Armstrong, Tom Blomqvist and Linus Lundqvist, the eyes of the motorsports world will focus on the first laps turned in an INDYCAR SERIES machine by 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson. The rookie test begins Larson’s on-track journey in the Hendrick 1100, the moniker for his efforts to complete the Memorial Day “double” of racing in the Indianapolis 500 and the NASCAR Cup Series’ Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 26, 2024.
Meyer Shank Racing driver Blomqvist and Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Armstrong and Lundqvist will attempt to complete the rookie test Wednesday, Oct. 11, while Larson will be on track Thursday, Oct. 12.
The Rookie Orientation Program consists of three speed phases, gradually introducing first-year “500” drivers to the high speeds and unique nature of the rectangular, low-banked 2.5-mile oval. Drivers must start with 10 laps between 205-210 mph, following with 15 laps at 210-215 and finishing with 15 laps faster than 215 mph.
Armstrong and Blomqvist aim to make their NTT INDYCAR SERIES oval debuts next May at Indy. Lundqvist has one career oval start, last August at World Wide Technology Raceway. But all three drivers made multiple NTT INDYCAR SERIES starts in 2023, with Armstrong racing in the 14 road- and street-course events, and Blomqvist and Lundqvist each making three starts as substitutes for Meyer Shank Racing.
The Thursday test is uncharted territory for Larson, one of the most versatile racers in the world who has won oval races in stock cars and nearly every kind of short-track car but never has turned a lap in an INDYCAR SERIES car.
He will drive the No. 17 Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet fielded by Arrow McLaren in a joint effort with his NASCAR team, 10-time Brickyard 400 winners Hendrick Motorsports.
Larson will attempt to become the fifth driver to complete the Memorial Day weekend Sunday “double,” joining John Andretti, Tony Stewart, Robby Gordon and Kurt Busch. 2004 Cup Series champion Busch was the last driver to successfully attempt the double, in 2014. Stewart produced the most successful double in 2001, when he finished sixth at Indianapolis and third at Charlotte.
The NTT INDYCAR SERIES also will test the 2.2-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 engine with hybrid technology Thursday and Friday at IMS.
Two-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champions Alex Palou of Chip Ganassi Racing and Will Power of Team Penske will be joined by Colton Herta of Andretti Global and Alexander Rossi of Arrow McLaren for Thursday’s hybrid test. David Malukas of Arrow McLaren and Marcus Ericsson of Andretti Global will join Palou and Power on Friday in testing the hybrid power unit, which will make its NTT INDYCAR SERIES race debut in 2024.
The Rookie Orientation Program takes place from 10 a.m.-noon and 1-5 p.m. ET Wednesday. Hybrid testing starts from 9-11 a.m. Thursday, followed by Larson’s rookie test from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and more hybrid testing from 2-6 p.m. Hybrid testing will take place from 9 a.m.-noon and 1-5 p.m. Friday.
Fans can watch all three days of testing from the grandstands inside the short chute between Turns 1 and 2 of the IMS oval, near the IMS Museum, and the spectator mounds inside Turn 2. Live timing from the Rookie Orientation Program on Wednesday and Thursday will be available at racecontrol.indycar.com.