PORTLAND, Ore – For the first time since 2007, the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers were laying down “official” laps around the 1.964-mile Portland International Raceway. While I know you may be thinking, didn’t they just run on Thursday there? Yes, they did, but Thursday’s times were “unofficial” laps due to having two separate test sessions.
Friday’s times were able to go in the record book.
Sebastien Bourdais topped the speed charts in the opening session in his No. 18 Honda with a lap of 57.3975-seconds. Bourdais, won the last race at Portland in 2007 and should be among the favorites to win this weekend. He was 11th and sixth quickest on Thursday.
Scott Dixon was second fastest in his No. 9 Honda circling the track with a lap of 57.4221-seconds. The current INDYCAR points leader set the fastest overall speed in Thursday’s test too.
Josef Newgarden was third overall in his No. 1 Chevrolet with a time of 57.5836-seconds. The top three times were all quicker than the current track record.
Marco Andretti who was strong on Thursday was fourth fastest with a lap of 57.7114-seconds while last weeks winner Will Power (57.7663-seconds) rounded out the top five.
Alexander Rossi, who’s 26 points behind Dixon in the standings was seventh overall. The only other championship eligible driver in Ryan Hunter-Reay wound up 15th in session No. 1.
We saw some crashes in this session as Takuma Sato and Simon Pagenaud both made contact on separate incidents. Sato, had a hard hit going head on into the SAFER barriers just about halfway through the session.
In terms of speed, Power led the way with a time of 57.4053-seconds in his No. 12 Chevrolet. He turned that lap on a set of Firestone Alternates towards the end of the session. Andretti (57.4668-seconds) was second quickest in his No. 98 Honda. He’s had a stellar weekend thus far.
Rookie Santino Ferrucci (57.4818-seconds) was third fastest in his No. 39 Honda while Dixon (57.5662-seconds) and Jack Harvey (57.6984-seconds) rounded out the top five.
The series will practice one more time tomorrow morning before qualifying later on in the day to set the field for Sunday’s Portland Grand Prix.
Josef Newgarden (6th), Ryan Hunter-Reay (17th) and Alexander Rossi (23rd) all struggled to get a fast lap down in the session due to always coming out in traffic. With 25 cars in Portland and less an a two-mile track, finding the right spot for a clean lap is difficult. All three American drivers found out the hard way.
Newgarden says that his No. 1 Chevrolet is a legitimate top five car and he’s happy with where his speed is. Hunter-Reay was caught out by traffic but says he’s a seventh place car right now. Rossi, had the same problem but isn’t too worried about Saturday either.