Lundgaard paces Friday IndyCar practice in Portland

Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s Christian Lundgaard topped the first practice session for the BITNILE.COM Grand Prix of Portland ahead of Kyle Kirkwood and championship leader Alex Palou.

With their extra set of primaries, the rookies hit Oregon’s 1.964-mile 12-turn Portland International Raceway first, but 12 minutes into the session, it was last year’s fourth-place starter Christian Lundgaard who first cracked the 1-minute barrier with a 59.4934s effort. He then improved on this marginally, then significantly, getting down to 59.0588s.

Ganassi’s Marcus Armstrong and Foyt’s Benjamin Pedersen then joined him in the sub 1-minute category, before this pair were split by Rinus VeeKay (Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet).


After 18 minutes, Felix Rosenqvist set fourth fastest time, then understeered off at Turn 12, his Arrow McLaren Chevy making gentle contact with the tire barrier and bringing out the red flag. For that, he would be put in the sin bin for five minutes.

Teammate Pato O’Ward, a winner here in Portland in Indy Lights, moved up to second when action resumed four minutes later, then set a 58.9334s on his eighth lap, while Ryan Hunter-Reay – who will suffer a six-place grid drop for an early engine change – dropped his Ed Carpenter Racing Chevy at Turn 12 but found enough asphalt to get the car slowed down and resumed without a session stoppage. However, a second red flew when Santino Ferrucci ran wide out of Turn 6 and spun into Turn 7 and stalled his Foyt car there.

With 37 minutes of the 75-minute session to go, Ganassi’s title contenders made their presence felt, with Palou – 2021 Portland winner and IndyCar champion – going top with the first 120mph lap of the session, a 58.9168s, while Scott Dixon slotted into third, 0.13s behind.

Tom Blomqvist, the IMSA champion in his second outing in the Meyer Shank Racing team, had a wild moment through the Turn 1 chicane but after knocking a sign aside, he kept it all together and continued, just before Hunter-Reay spun exiting Turn 12 onto the main straight and stalled, bringing out the third red.

Will Power did a 180 degree spin exiting Turn 2 and used the Turn 1 runoff to resume, while Indy road course pole-winner Graham Rahal emphasized RLL’s pace with sixth fastest, before Armstrong improved to third, while Devlin DeFrancesco was quickest of the Andretti Autosport Hondas.

Lundgaard was the first driver to switch to Firestone’s alternate rubber, but it was VeeKay on old primaries who climbed to P1 with a 58.8474s, then trimmed it to 58.7843s. Lundgaard made his soft compound count with a 58.1776s – 121.531mph – and Kirkwood used the reds to slot into second, 0.1470s behind him.

Palou’s first flyer on reds also put him into the 121mph bracket in third, while Rosenqvist and Alexander Rossi ensured all Arrow McLarens were in the top eight, with Romain Grosjean (Andretti) in the top six. When attempting to join his teammate, Colton Herta hit the grass out of Turn 6.

With under three minutes to go, David Malukas jumped his Dale Coyne Racing w/HMD Honda into sixth, after annoying both Josef Newgarden and Scott Dixon by slowing down.

Newgarden finished the session in 10th, but his teammates Scott McLaughlin and Will Power were 16th and 17th, although they were ahead of Dixon.

IndyCar debutant Juri Vips finished the session in 15th, 0.8441s off his pace-setting teammate Lundgaard and 0.01s ahead of Rahal. Blomqvist was focused on clocking laps – 35 – and finished around 0.75s behind MSR teammate Helio Castroneves.


Story originally appeared on Racer