Defending Portland polesitter and race winner Scott McLaughlin led the second practice for the BITNILE.com Grand Prix of Portland, a tenth ahead of teammate Josef Newgarden, while Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon and Alex Palou were third and fifth.
David Malukas and Colton Herta were the first drivers to drop below the one-minute mark on the 1.964-mile Portland International Raceway, Malukas delivering a 58.8028s on only his third lap in the Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Honda. He was swiftly usurped by Friday pacesetter Christian Lundgaard of Rahal Letterman Lanigan, who produced a 58.4732s.
The next driver to hit that 58-second zone was Rinus VeeKay of Ed Carpenter Racing who vaulted fellow Chevrolet runners, Penske’s Josef Newgarden and Will Power, although his time was then disallowed.
Marcus Armstrong of Chip Ganassi Racing and Pato O’Ward of Arrow McLaren then set 58s laps, before Alexander Rossi slotted into fourth in the No. 7 McLaren. But it was the third McLaren driver, Felix Rosenqvist, who got closest to Lundgaard’s early benchmark, just 0.1108s in arrears, although Rossi then improved to third just ahead of Malukas, and then Rosenqvist trimmed his deficit to P1 to a mere 0.013s.
Fastest of the Andretti Autosport Honda drivers in the first half of the session was Romain Grosjean, but he had a wild moment on the grass at Turn 5, not long before teammate Herta replicated his accident from 2022, clipping the Turn 1 apex barrier with his right-front wheel, necessitating suspension repairs.
With 22 minutes to go, Newgarden hit the top of the times with a 58.4590s but was immediately pushed off the top by another RLL driver, Graham Rahal. Newgarden responded with a 58.2695s. Teammate McLaughlin then found the magic again to run a 58.1516s).
Lundgaard might have been able to respond but ended up stuck behind Armstrong while his tires were in their prime, and he was bumped down the order by Armstrong.
O’Ward and Rosenqvist had just moved up to sixth and seventh ahead of Power, when out came the red flag for Sting Ray Robb of Dale Coyne Racing spinning and stalling at Turn 6.
When the session recommenced, IndyCar debutant Juri Vips improved his best time to a 58.8040s, which put the ex-Formula 2 ace just half a second slower than fastest teammate at the time, Rahal.
With 10 minutes remaining, 2021 Portland winner and current championship leader Palou made his presence felt with a 58.3630s lap to go fourth fastest, although his teammate Dixon — the one driver who can stop him scoring a second title this year — outpaced him by just 0.0146s, then further improved to third, just 0.1269s behind McLaughlin.
Rossi spun out of Turn 6 as he tried to move up from 10th on the timing screens, while VeeKay underlined the encouraging form seen from the No. 21 Ed Carpenter car on Friday, with a late improvement to sixth, 0.2298s behind pacesetter McLaughlin.
Right at the end of the session, Grosjean made an error at Turn 6 and lost momentum, but when Callum Ilott’s Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet drew alongside, the Andretti driver ushered him off the track.
— NTT INDYCAR SERIES (@IndyCar) September 2, 2023
UP NEXT: Qualifying begins at 3:00pm Eastern.