Lichtenberg tops first Open-Wheels 500 practice on Sunday

SPENCER NEFF
November 2, 2020 | 10:30 AM

Following a year-long wait, preparations for the second annual Open-Wheels 500 presented by Mitchell Transmissions began on Sunday. In preparation for the return of the November 15 iRacing event, a six-hour practice session was held over the weekend – 18 days after the initial test session in mid-October.

When all was said and done, it was Brendan Lichtenberg leading the way after posting a best lap of 234.809 miles per hour (38.329 seconds) on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“We really wanted to make today an acclimation day and a feel-good day, and I feel great,” he emphasized following the session.

“We’d been preparing prior to today, but until you get that first session you’re enveloped by a fog of war and don’t know exactly where you are. After today, we know where we are and we look forward to logging more laps.”

Last year, Lichtenberg worked his way up from 30th on the grid to finish 13th at the inaugural running.

PHOTOS FROM DAY ONE AT THE OPEN-WHEELS 500

Slotting in behind Lichtenberg – just .129 of a second off his best time – was his teammate and fellow former iRacing Indianapolis 500 winner Christopher Demeritt, who was the only other driver to eclipse the 234 mile-per-hour mark on their best lap.

In all, 15 drivers posted laps in excess of 230 miles per hour, with the top 29 drivers being separated by just .996 of a second.

Among the notable drivers absent from Sunday’s opening practice were last year’s race winner Michele Costantini and pole winner Yang Ou. Although most of the field has opted for the spec Dallara IR-18 chassis, other cars are represented in the field.

During Sunday’s practice, IXI Racing’s Chad Irvine was the first driver on track in his Dallara DW-12, finishing 39th-fastest.

Representing one of seven independent efforts within the 110 entries, Stephen Aboagye rounded out the field, clocking a best lap of 41.237 (218.251 mph).

Up Next

Tuesday, Thursday and Friday will see practice run from 1:00 to 9:00 PM Eastern each day before two days of qualifying on Saturday and Sunday. On November 15, the 200-lap race will begin at 11:45 a.m. Eastern. For a full schedule, click here.

On Thursday, RaceSpot TV will produce a live, one-hour Qualifications Draw Special where drivers will learn of their position in the initial qualifications order that kicks off Saturday’s Pole Day runs. That show will begin at 8:00 PM Eastern on RaceSpot TV’s YouTube page.

The first week all builds into Pole Day on Saturday, November 7. The first run of the day will roll off at approximately 6:10 AM Eastern, and qualifications attempts will be made live throughout the day on Open-Wheels.com/TV (until 5:00 PM) as well as RaceSpot TV (from 5:00 to 5:50 PM).

The Pit Lane Parley Pole Award winner will be crowned at the end of the day on Saturday while the rest of the field sweats their way through one more day of qualifications.

Sunday, November 8 will bring Bump Day – the final 12 hours of first-come, first-served qualifications which will end with the field of 33 drivers being set.

The fastest 33 make the show, and again, final hour coverage of Bump Day will be shown live on RaceSpot TV (beginning at 5:00 PM ET) while the rest of day two qualifications can be found at Open-Wheels.com/TV (6:00 AM to 5:00 PM).

With qualifications out of the day, drivers will practice again from 1:00 to 9:00 PM on Tuesday (November 10) and Thursday (November 12) before hitting the track for the final time on Saturday, November 14 at 12:30 PM on Open-Wheels.com/TV.

Race day for the 2020 Open-Wheels 500 presented by Mitchell Transmissions is Sunday, November 15. The Today at the 500 Pre-Race Show will begin at 9:00 AM Eastern (live on Open-Wheels.com/TV) which will carry all of the traditional ceremonies – such as Taps, the National Anthem, Back Home Again in Indiana, and more!

Following the pre-race show is the live, worldwide broadcast of the second annual Open-Wheels 500 on RaceSpot TV – their coverage beginning at 11:30 AM Eastern with a scheduled green flag of 11:45 AM.

Stay tuned to Open-Wheels.com for in-depth coverage of the 2020 Open-Wheels 500 presented by Mitchell Transmissions, as well as our social media channels for the latest news and updates on this year’s ‘500’.

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