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What Kyle Larson, Indy 500 drivers said on the first day of testing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Amid interruptions for rain, some familiar names were atop the Indianapolis Motor Speedway leaderboard Wednesday during the Indy 500 Open Test.

Defending race winner Josef Newgarden turned the fastest lap (228.811 mph) during a two-hour morning session for veterans.

NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson went second fastest at 226.384 mph. The Hendrick Motorsports star was allowed to run with the veterans after competing his Rookie Orientation Program last fall.

Six-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon was third fastest at 226.346 mph. The test was shortened by four hours because of afternoon showers that left the track damp from 2:30 p.m. ET onward.

WEDNESDAY RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Combined l Rookie Orientation Program

Wednesday will begin with a marathon session scheduled for more than nine hours.

Larson told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch during an interview on the Peacock broadcast that he was working his way through traffic with Newgarden and learning how to navigate turbulent conditions.

“I’m just trying to learn all that and process all that and learn what I can do in the car to compete,” Larson told Welch (watch in the video above or clicking here). “Timing the runs behind me and trying to figure out any bit of racecraft today, which is tough. But I get an idea of things and notes in my head. I feel like I’ve gotten more comfortable with the clutch. So far, so good.”

Larson, who is attempting to become the fifth driver to race the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day, has a familiar voice on the timing stand. Hendrick Motorsports technical director Brian Campe, who previously won an Indy 500 and IndyCar championship as an engineer at Team Penske, is working with Arrow McLaren to help get Larson up to speed in the No. 17 Dallara-Chevrolet.

“Being around how I communicate in the (NASCAR) competition meetings, it’s important to have (Campe) here to help with that transition period of communication and what to look for in practice sessions,” Larson said. “I’m very happy Hendrick Motorsports is loaninig him to me for this experience because I really think it’s going to be beneficial, and everyone has been really easy to work with and Tony Kanaan as well. I’ve got a great group that’s helping but a lot left to learn. I’m enjoying it so far.”

But accustomed to hitting top speeds around 200 mph in the Daytona 500, the transition to the 230-plus mph environs of the Brickyard initially was a bit jarring.

All the pertinent details and information you need for the 108th Indianapolis 500 on May 26.

“Out of the gate, I’m like, ‘Man I made a mistake, I’m going way too fast,’ ” Larson said with a laugh. “It’s weird. My brain isn’t ready to go this fast in the morning. Man, this is crazy. You see cars way out in the distance peeling off in the corner so fast, and it’s just wild. But then your brain kind of adapts. Everything starts slowing down.

“Honestly as I got closer to people, it didn’t feel way fast. Overall the feel of the car is different, but the Next Gen NASCAR has transitioned a lot closer to what IndyCar feels like. It’s not too different.”

Larson said he missed the ability to analyze all of his competitors’ data (known as SMT) as he can in NASCAR.

“SMT is so nice to look at in NASCAR,” he said. “I wish I had SMT now, I could look through that and learn and flip through laps and see a video basically. This feels more an old-school way to learn. It’s just different. It’s a good experience because it just opens my eyes to a new experience and how to approach things. It’s been good but still a lot to learn and haven’t even scratched the surface yet. But it’s been fun.”

It was less fun for Marco Andretti, who was among six drivers taking place in the Rookie Orientation Program session that followed the two-hour veteran practice.

Though he has 18 Indy 500 starts (including four podiums and the 2020 pole position), Andretti was forced to complete the “refresher” ROP, which requires drivers to hit tiered speeds well below the optimum pace needed to hone setups.

Veterans Katherine Legge and Pietro Fittipaldi also were in the ROP because they hadn’t been on an oval since last year’s Indy 500.

“It’s a waste of time for us,” Andretti told Welch. “We have a lot of boxes to tick. It delays us. That’s the rules, though. That’s what we’re going to do. Anytime we have track time is very valuable, so we’ll make good use of it.”

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver Christian Lundgaard also ran into a hiccup, getting delayed from the veterans practice while his team fixed a steering problem on his No. 45 Dallara-Honda that was discovered on the install lap.

Lundgaard eventually completed six laps, the fewest of the 28 veterans, but was pleased by RLL’s progress after last year’s disastrous showing in Indy qualifying.

We knew we had to make changes, and a lot of work has been done,” Lundgaard told NBC Sports’ Georgia Henneberry. “We’re taking a different approach to verify the changes and make sure we see a performance gain. It doesn’t help that the 45 isn’t out there, but I’m excited. We’re back at the speedway. There’s a lot of anticipation and wanting to be faster.”

Weather permitting, teams will return to testing at the track Thursday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Here’s what other drivers were saying during Peacock interviews Wednesday:

Graham Rahal, No. 15 Dallara-Honda of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing: “After last year, it’s just running on our own to see the gains we made in the offseason. So far there’s a lot of positive things to report. Everybody at RLL has worked incredibly hard, I know that, I’ve seen it, I’ve been a part of it. It’s nice to feel for once even just the couple of times I got a sniff of a tow, a straightaway’s worth, the car really accelerated well. Which we did not have over the last couple of years. I think we found good gains. Let’s see what it is. We’re still relatively heavy on downforce, but our no tows are competitive. We’ll just race this afternoon and see how that goes.

“I don’t know about a new approach necessarily. We approach it the same. Simply the work ethic, the work that went into the offseason on the development side to get us to a point we were just flat out more competitive. People think drivers can make magic happen and go 3 mph after on an oval. Especially places like Indy, Texas. That’s just not reality. There’s no substitute for a fast race car. Our focus in the offseason has been make the cars fast. We’ve got to find a lot of drag. Not just on the top side but internal. You’ve got to find mechanical and aerodynamic drag. It’s not necessarily a new approach, it’s just we need to take what we’ve learned and put the pieces of the puzzle together on the track and see what it does.”

Pato O’Ward, No. 5 Dallara-Chevrolet of Arrow McLaren: “We want to get out there and play with the gang. We didn’t really find any of that in the morning. Everyone wanted to run solo. We’re just changing things and seeing what works and doesn’t. Half the things won’t be working great. Half of it we hope makes the car better than it was last year. We’re just going through the process and seeing what direction to keep working on. I didn’t do hybrid test, so last May I was the last time I was here. The first few laps, you get a little tensed up. Your eyes have to get used to the speed.”

Colton Herta, No. 26 Dallara-Honda of Andretti Global: “There’s still a lot to learn for me. You have to be prepared for all the scenarios. I’m sure a lot of guys think the car is a lot better than if we come back and it’s 85 degrees. It’s fun to drive these (cool) conditions. It’s a lot racier, and guys can pass more. We’ve had to go through some car things and make sure the levels were right. If the wind tunnel numbers are correct on the track.”

Rinus VeeKay, No. 21 Dallara-Chevrolet of Ed Carpenter Racing: “It’s nice to get back out here and do fast speeds. The car felt really stuck. It’s mostly me getting back to Indy 500 mode, which is totally different. I’m happy. It started off very well. The team put in a lot of work., and we have some new experienced people. I definitely have a different approach with (teammate) Christian (Rasmussen) being the rookie and me being the veteran. It’s gone very well for me. I feel like a veteran for the first time. I feel like it’s Year 5 (in IndyCar). Everything I do I’ve already done several times.”

Kyle Kirkwood, No. 27 Dallara-Honda of Andretti Global: “We didn’t find anything yet. We’re just making sure everything feels right. These cars are super sensitive with how fast you’re going, so you need to make sure everything looks OK. Last year, (this) car was upside down (in a late-race crash), so obviously we’ve got some new parts on the car that are aero and mechanically sensitive that we need to check.”

Kirkwood upside down after Rosenqvist contact
Felix Rosenqvist slides high and contacts the wall, causing him to spin out and clip Kyle Kirkwood, which sends Kirkwood sliding across the track upside down and his tire over the catchfence into the parking lot.

Linus Lundqvist, No. 8 Dallara-Honda of Chip Ganassi Racing: “It’s been everything I dreamt of and more. A big change. Everyone has been so good to me. Still feels kind of surreal but still very good. Especially a place like this and the success Ganassi has had here. I was fortunate to do the ROP last year and got my first couple of laps around this place. Today is mostly about getting comfortable in traffic. It’s such a big thing during the Indy 500. It’s the first superspeedway I’m ever going to do, so I’m going to work through it slowly. Take my time and not rush everything.”

Marcus Ericsson, No. 28 Dallara-Honda of Andretti Global: “First of all, it’s to get a feel for the car. Learning where the baseline Andretti car is at and start getting true to the program. There’s a lot of things to test. I know exactly what I need and want from the car. That feeling the last two years is what I’m searching for, and that’s the goal is to get there this week and during the month. I’m always excited to be at the Speedway in the Month of May. I’ll push hard to try to put us up front and fight for the victory.”