The NTT IndyCar Series heads to the Portland International Raceway for the penultimate race weekend of the season. Sunday’s Grand Prix of Portland (3 p.m. ET/NBC/INDYCAR Radio Network) will shape who will race for the championship in a few weeks at Laguna Seca.
But, before we get there, the 23 drivers had two practice sessions to get their cars right on Friday. After both sessions, it appears that Honda and Andretti Autosport may be the ones to beat.
Andretti, tested in Portland a few weeks ago and that test proved to be an advantage out of the gates.
In session No. 1, all five Andretti cars (Harding included) were in the top nine of the speed charts. Colton Herta paced the field in his No. 88 Honda with a top lap of 57.4293-seconds. Herta, has four top 10 finishes in his last six starts on the season and also has a win on a natural road course back at COTA in March.
Alexander Rossi was P2 in his No. 27 Honda. The Andretti driver turned in a lap of 57.5538-seconds himself. Scott Dixon (57.7922-seconds), Josef Newgarden (157.8504-seconds) and Marco Andretti (57.9006-seconds) rounded out the top five.
The other two Andretti cars Zach Veach and Ryan Hunter-Reay were seventh and ninth respectively. That gave Honda nine of the top 10 speeds as both Chip Ganassi Racing cars and last weeks winner and last year’s winner in Portland at that, Takuma Sato, gave them nine cars.
In the second session, Sebastien Bourdais turned the quickest time in his No. 18 Honda but got off course just after. The Dale Coyne Racing driver went 57.9213-seconds in the final practice of the day.
Will Power was second in his No. 12 Chevrolet. Power, circled the track with a time of 57.9502-seconds.
Felix Rosenqvist (58.0602-seconds) was third while Herta (58.0848-seconds) and Newgarden (58.0969-seconds) rounded out the top five.
The three Penske drivers will much better in this session coming in 2-5-7.
The championship contenders were 2-5-6-7-11 respectively.