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Portland IndyCar: Newgarden leads fragmented first practice

David Malukas of Dale Coyne Racing with HMD-Honda was the first driver to duck under the 1-minute barrier, with a 59.9263sec, and he was soon joined by Rinus VeeKay of Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevrolet, who was just 0.0374sec slower.

Malukas’ fellow rookies took advantage of their extra set of Firestone primaries to hit the track early in the 75-minute session, and so his former Indy Lights title rival Kyle Kirkwood got within 0.0222sec.

Then Callum Ilott on his seventh lap ran a 59.6811sec to go fastest by almost quarter of a second in the Juncos Hollinger-Chevy at the track on which he made his IndyCar debut last year.

After 25mins, a red flag went out when one of the big screens facing the front straight and the suites above the pitlane suddenly fell askew. It would have taken a strange quirk of fate for it to fall onto the track, but it wasn’t worth taking the risk. Mercifully, IndyCar eventually stopped the clock so the 25 drivers weren’t penalized for a weird and elementary issue outside their control.

Some 1hr20mins later, action resumed and Romain Grosjean of Andretti Autosport-Honda and championship contender Marcus Ericsson of Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda – for this race in almost identical PNC Bank colors as teammate Scott Dixon – were quickly into the 59s.

Grosjean further improved to hit top spot with a 59.5997, an average speed of 118.631mph around the 1.964-mile road course in Portland, OR, but he was soon usurped by two of his teammates, Alexander Rossi and 2019 Portland polesitter Colton Herta.

Rossi then had a high-speed off at Turn 6 but managed to regain the track, but then 2019 Portland winner Takuma Sato went off at Turn 11 in the Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsports, burying the front left of the car in the tire wall.

The session resumed with 28mins to go, enough time for Pato O’Ward of Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet and Josef Newgarden to move into the top five – but five minutes later Helio Castroneves spun at Turn 2 – for the second time – and out came the red again.

Again action resumed, and Scott McLaughlin moved his Penske into fifth, but then O’Ward spun off at Turn 5, without touching a barrier but bringing out another red.

There were 11mins left when the green flew again, with most drivers hitting the track on the red sidewalled Firestone alternate compound. Ericsson went quickest with a 59.2860, but Newgarden went over half a second faster, with a 58.7574, then a scintillating 58.5769 – an average of 120.703mph.

McLaughlin looked set to be his closest challenger with a lap 0.1387sec slower than his teammate, but then Malukas split the Penske pair. The third Penske of championship leader Power was unable to hit the top three as he was held up by lapped traffic in both laps when his reds were at their peak, but his frustration was mild compared with Grosjean, who suffered transmission issues just before he was going to make a red-tire run.

Cla Driver Team Laps Time Gap Mph
1 United States Josef Newgarden United States Team Penske 18 58.5769   120.703
2 United States David Malukas United States Dale Coyne Racing 34 58.7024 0.1255 120.445
3 New Zealand Scott McLaughlin United States Team Penske 23 58.7156 0.1387 120.418
4 United States Alexander Rossi United States Andretti Autosport 20 58.7639 0.1870 120.319
5 United States Colton Herta United States Andretti Autosport 18 58.8246 0.2477 120.195
6 Sweden Felix Rosenqvist United States Arrow McLaren SP 18 58.8458 0.2689 120.151
7 United States Kyle Kirkwood United States A.J. Foyt Enterprises 28 58.9582 0.3813 119.922
8 United States Graham Rahal United States Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 23 58.9896 0.4127 119.858
9 Spain Alex Palou United States Chip Ganassi Racing 23 58.9988 0.4219 119.840
10 Australia Will Power United States Team Penske 25 59.0287 0.4518 119.779
11 New Zealand Scott Dixon United States Chip Ganassi Racing 23 59.0325 0.4556 119.771
12 United Kingdom Jack Harvey United States Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 21 59.0656 0.4887 119.704
13 Canada Devlin DeFrancesco United States Andretti Autosport 31 59.1067 0.5298 119.621
14 United Kingdom Callum Ilott United States Juncos Hollinger Racing 26 59.2422 0.6653 119.347
15 France Simon Pagenaud United States Meyer Shank Racing 23 59.2730 0.6961 119.285
16 Sweden Marcus Ericsson United States Chip Ganassi Racing 25 59.2860 0.7091 119.259
17 Brazil Helio Castroneves United States Meyer Shank Racing 22 59.3141 0.7372 119.203
18 Netherlands Rinus van Kalmthout United States Ed Carpenter Racing 28 59.3386 0.7617 119.153
19 Denmark Christian Lundgaard United States Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 31 59.3561 0.7792 119.118
20 United States Conor Daly United States Ed Carpenter Racing 26 59.4217 0.8448 118.987
21 France Romain Grosjean United States Andretti Autosport 17 59.5997 1.0228 118.631
22 Mexico Patricio O'Ward United States Arrow McLaren SP 12 59.6261 1.0492 118.579
23 Canada Dalton Kellett United States A.J. Foyt Enterprises 30 1'00.0175 1.4406 117.806
24 United States Jimmie Johnson United States Chip Ganassi Racing 33 1'00.2741 1.6972 117.304
25 Japan Takuma Sato United States Dale Coyne Racing 13 1'00.5316 1.9547 116.805

 

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