- Associated Press - Sunday, May 11, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Roger Penske’s team got off to a fast start on a slow day at Indianapolis.

Less than 24 hours after working feverishly to convert three cars from road-course setups to oval setups, the winningest owner in Indianapolis 500 swept the top three spots on the first day of practice Sunday.

Australia’s Will Power finished with a fast lap of 223.057 mph, Colombia’s Juan Pablo Montoya was second at 222.502 and Brazil’s Helio Castroneves was third at 222.373. Only three other drivers topped 222.

And Penske’s team made it look easy.

“It was important for us to get out there today and get some qualify running in and you have to get your engines out of the old cars, which is what we did,” Penske President Tim Cindric said. “Busy times, but I’m really proud of our guys.”

The month opened with an unprecedented bang.

But to nobody’s surprise, Sunday’s practice was more of a yawner.

Track workers and most teams at the speedway scrambled to make the overnight transition, and it took a toll.

Just two dozen drivers turned laps on the 2.5-mile oval, most finishing with fewer than 40 total laps and some in backup cars. Power’s practice time more than 5 mph slower than last year’s four-lap pole-winning average, and only a smattering of fans came out for opening day, which years ago was considered an unofficial holiday in town.

None of it was a surprise to the insiders.

Penske’s team wasn’t the only one under the microscope.

NASCAR driver Kurt Busch’s team not only had to make changes to Andretti Autosport’s No. 26 Honda, it had to repair the car that in a crash during Saturday’s inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Michael Andretti’s team didn’t even push Busch’s car out of the garage until more than an hour after practice began. But the delay didn’t slow down Busch, who is attempting to become the fourth driver to attempt “the double” - 1,100 miles of racing at Indianapolis and Charlotte on the same day. Both races will be held May 25.

Busch ran only 29 laps Sunday and was right in the middle of the pack, No. 12, after going 220.352.

That’s not where he intends to be in two weeks.

“It was a nice rookie day to go play in traffic,” Busch said. “It’s exciting because every corner is different and you have to remember where each of those moments were from the lap before. Things are moving quickly at 220 and that’s with just a few cars”

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