The pace of the first official Indy car practice session at Portland International Raceway in over a decade was fast with three drivers lapping under the established track record, led by Sebastien Bourdais who won the race’s last running in 2007.
Bourdais’ best revolution of the 1.964-mile, 12-turn road course in his Dale Coyne Racing Honda clocked in at just 57.3975 seconds. Unofficially, the lap by Bourdais is the new record for an Indy car around Portland at almost two-tenths of a second quicker than Justin Wilson’s record-setting lap from 2005.
Championship leader Scott Dixon occupied the top of the timesheet for portions of the 45-minute practice but ended it with the second-fastest lap. At 57.4221 seconds, Dixon’s PNC Bank-backed Honda was 0.0246 seconds off Bourdais’ time.
Defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden delivered the best result for Chevrolet and was the final driver under the standing track record as he placed his No. 1 Team Penske machine third with a 57.5836.
Adding a third Honda to the top five, Marco Andretti gave the brand a 3-2 advantage in the group. His 57.7114-second lap placed him fourth in the final running order, representing the best effort from the four-car Andretti Autosport team.
The top five was completed by Will Power, who reinvigorated his championship chances when he won the series’ most recent race at Gateway Motorsports Park.
Jordan King, Alexander Rossi, Takuma Sato, Ed Jones and Zach Veach competed the top 10 with seven Hondas in the group demonstrating the Japanese manufacturer’s strength to begin IndyCar’s return to the Pacific Northwest.
Two red flags slowed the session, both coming in the final five minutes. The first break in the action was for Veach who went off course at Turn 11, requiring a restart by the AMR INDYCAR Safety Team. Once able to move, Veach returned to pit lane under his own power.
Just one minute prior to the scheduled end of the session, Alfonso Celis Jr. went for a ride in Juncos Racing’s No. 32 Chevrolet when he spun off course at Turn 10. The incident prompted INDYCAR to issue simultaneous red and checkered flags.
Friday’s IndyCar action at Portland will conclude with Practice 2 at 2:35 p.m. PDT, set to run for 60 minutes. The weekend will continue Saturday with practice and qualifying ahead of the 105-lap race Sunday.