Speedway, IN - For F2000 Championship Series competitors, the Friday conversation at Indianapolis Motor Speedway revolved around learning the track and setup changes ahead of 12:15 p.m. practice, which was led by R-Sport driver Keith McCrone, who is back having last raced in F2000 competition at Summit Point in 2013.
McCrone said he ran a Porsche in an event at Indianapolis in 2016 and liked the track so much, if it was put on the F2000 schedule he would enter the race. He now reunites with R-Sport in a red Van Diemen and becomes among the early favorites to challenge for the win in both rounds five and six of the 2017 season.
John LaRue and Brandon Dixon were second and third fastest, respectively.
Dixon, driving for Citation Engineering, is the Championship points leader and won at VIR in April. Through four F2000 Championship races in 2016, there have been four different winners.
Robert Armington and Matt McDonough completed the top five in the first practice.
"Indy is a place that is on everyone's bucket list," McDonough said. "We obviously found some speed in the Radon at the start of the season, I'm hoping to improve on the overall performance. It will also be the first race weekend since the designer and founder of Radon Sport, Nathan Ulrich, lost his life in an airplane accident, so the team is very motivated to do well in his memory."
Among competitors learning Indianapolis while dealing with setup adjustments was LTD Motorsports driver Robert Allaer, who was seventh quick behind Steve Jenks in opening practice.
"It's definitely a lower-down force track from what we've done this year," said Allaer. "We'll see though, we have trimmed out the car more than we had at Mid-Ohio and Virginia."
Allaer was followed by Dan Denison, driving for Polestar, and Tim Paul, who was ninth quick and is debuting a new car for the weekend with the No. 35.
"Practice was an experiment for sure with learning the track and figuring out a new car," Paul said. "It was just getting a handle on things with all the variables with a new environment and a new car."
In the second R-Sport entry, Bob Reid said passing under hard braking conditions will be the opportunity to advance come race time.
"It is my first time here, it is an eye-opening place," said Reid. "The first time you go across the bricks you say 'wow.' There are passing zones under hard braking here with an opportunity because of the draft since the straights are so long. We're setting the car up for as much straight line speed as we can without killing the infield."
F2000 qualifying is split into two sessions with combined times from Friday afternoon and Saturday morning making up Saturday afternoon's race one grid. Sunday afternoon's second race will see the grid set by fast laps in race one.