Saturday, April 1, 2023

Newgarden Paces Eventful Opening Practice for IndyCar at Portland

Josef Newgarden at Gallagher GP
Josef Newgarden led opening practice at Portland, which featured four red flags. Image courtesy of Joe Skibinski / Penske Entertainment

Josef Newgarden was fastest in a bizarre opening practice for the NTT IndyCar Series on Friday afternoon at Portland International Raceway.

The 31-year-old Tennessee native put down a flying lap of 58.5769s (120.703 mph) in the No. 2 Team Penske Chevrolet to top the charts at the 12-turn, 1.964-mile natural road course.

Rookie David Malukas continued his impressive run of form by putting the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsports Honda in the runner-up slot, logging a session-most 34 laps and falling just 0.1255s behind Newgarden.

Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin ended up third, ahead of the Andretti Autosport duo of Alexander Rossi and Colton Herta in fourth and fifth, respectively.

The No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet of Felix Rosenqvist came away sixth, with rookie Kyle Kirkwood putting the No. 14 AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet a respectable seventh.

Graham Rahal finished up in eighth. Reigning NTT IndyCar Series champion and defending race winner Alex Palou had his No. 10 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda ninth when the checkered flag fell on the session.

Championship leader Will Power put his No. 12 Team Penske Chevrolet in 10th.

The start to practice was relatively straightforward until an issue with one of the big screens just outside of the circuit on the main straightaway brought out the red flag with just over 51 minutes remaining. The cause was an apparent hydraulic issue and put a stoppage of 1 hour, 21 minutes of the session.

Once practice resumed, it was plagued with multiple issues that began roughly 15 minutes later after Takuma Sato went off track and into the tire barrier at Turn 11. Then, with 24 minutes remaining Helio Castroneves’ No. 06 Meyer Shank Racing Honda spun and stalled in Turn 2.

The next restart would also be brief as Pato O’Ward’s No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet ended up off course in Turn 5, which brought out the fourth and final red flag of the session.

Up Next: The second practice for the NTT IndyCar Series will take place on Saturday at 12 p.m. ET, with live coverage on Peacock, IndyCar Live! and the IndyCar Radio Network.

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