Matt Brabham has taken the first major step towards his first Indianapolis 500 start by passing the Rookie Orientation Program on the 2.5 mile Speedway today.
It was Brabham’s first competitive look at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway since finishing second in the Freedom 100 Indy Lights race in 2014.
The PIRTEK Team Murray Chevrolet driver was required to go through three stages of his rookie test – circulating 10 laps between 205 and 210 miles per hour (330-337kph), 15 laps between 210 and 215 miles per hour (337-346kph) and then 15 laps over the 215mph (346kph) marker.
He passed every stage without trouble, recording a top speed in the final hour of practice of 222.578mph (358.205kph). His time was 22nd fastest of the 33 runners on track today.
Late in the afternoon, the majority of the field took to the track which gave the Indianapolis resident, Brabham the chance to experience running in a pack for the first time on the Superspeedway in an IndyCar.
Brabham was one of six rookies that had to go through the program.
Practice for the 100th Indianapolis 500 continues through each day this week with qualifying to be held on Saturday and Armed Forces Pole Day on Sunday.
MATT BRABHAM – #61 PIRTEK TEAM MURRAY CHEVROLET DRIVER
“It is great to finally be out on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the weather was good today and I just had fun out there in the PIRTEK Team Murray Chevrolet.
“It took me a while to build up to speed, I was slowly learning the lines and getting used to how to get around the Speedway. The focus for me today was becoming acclimatised to the car in Speedway trim.
“With the Rookie Orientation Program, we were required to go up in increments of five miles per hour from 205mph after completing a number of laps. It was our number one goal to get through that program today, which we did.
“This afternoon, we got to run an hour with the rest of the field, so was able to experience some traffic on track. I just had a lot of fun out there really!
“I didn’t expect all the other drivers to get out there and run in a big pack. When everyone was out there swapping, changing and passing and almost racing in some ways, it was a bit daunting to start with.
“Once I had done that for a couple of laps, I got into a rhythm and was feeling more comfortable. To be honest, I didn’t feel too bad at all hanging around those guys, following them and seeing how they race was really good experience.
“With every lap, I’m learning – I’m still not completely comfortable just yet, I need to keep working through it this week and see how it goes.”