In an extremely busy warmup session for the BitNile.com Grand Prix of Portland, Josef Newgarden emerged quickest for Team Penske ahead of Callum Ilott’s Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet.
There was little surprise that Felix Rosenqvist was quick to shine in this final warmup before the race, because only a car issue prevented him from contending for a top four in Saturday afternoon’s qualifying session.
It was David Malukas of Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Honda who first got below 60s, with a 59.8615s lap on Firestone alternates. His time at the top lasted less than a minute as Marcus Ericsson’s Chip Ganassi Racing Honda moved to P1 with a 59.6256s, and he was soon backed up teammate and points leader Alex Palou. Ominously for the opposition, his best time was set on the Firestone primaries.
So too was the best time from his teammate Scott Dixon, the only man who can stop Palou from claiming a second crown, and who is starting a row ahead of Palou on the grid. Dixon was fifth, ahead of Rinus VeeKay, who, as in practices one and two, was shining in the Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet.
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With under 13 minutes to go, Newgarden, who crashed out of qualifying earlier in the afternoon, bounced to the top on Firestone alternates with a 59.4533s. Teammate Will Power then joined him in the top five, while Ericsson slid through the Turn 1/2/3 chicane without harm. VeeKay jumped to third (again on alternates), and Colton Herta entered the top five (again, alternates).
Tom Blomqvist, who has had his engine changed since qualifying last, looked strong in the Meyer Shank Racing Honda, running in the top dozen for much of the session.
With under five minutes to go, Palou — now on alternates — lowered his lap time to a 59.5716s, although this was very slightly shaded by Callum Ilott of Juncos Hollinger Racing who will start tomorrow’s race from eighth. His teammate Agustin Canapino grabbed sixth on his alternates, just a breath slower than Dixon and ahead of VeeKay.
Almost all drivers completed more than 20 laps, as teams judged the degradation over the course of a stint, with a maximum of 28 by Newgarden, Power and Pato O’Ward.
The race begins at 12:30 p.m. PT time, 3:30 p.m. ET Sunday.