One of the most bizarre events we’ve ever seen during an IndyCar session took place on Friday at Portland International Raceway, as a red flag lasting one hour and 21 minutes was required to secure a large on-track video screen that was in danger of falling over. the front straight near the start/finish line.
Held aloft by a giant telescopic lift, one of the hydraulic rams holding the board high above failed, with crews from the NTT IndyCar Series teams adjacent to the screen reporting that the cap on the end of the ram flew off and began spewing hydraulic fluid. With the elevator starting to lower, the left side of the board hit and came to rest on a trailer, leaving the screen sitting at an awkward angle.
Wedged into a tight space, attempts were made to pull out the video board, and after much time was lost, the decision was made to strap the back of the board to various mounting points behind the unit, which ensured that it could only fall. backwards Satisfied with the efforts to secure the board, the session was restarted after the opening 24 minutes of green featured Callum Ilott as the fastest driver before the long stop took place.
With 53 minutes of green running left to go, Alexander Rossi eventually set the fast lap of 59.4390s on the faster Firestone alternate tires, but in the final stanza, red flags for spins and crashes that included Helio Castroneves, Takuma Sato , and Pato O’ Ward slowed down the action.
As the clock wound down towards 10 minutes, constant changes on the speed chart saw Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden take command with a lap of 58.5769s in the #2 Chevy. Dale Coyne Racing’s David Malukas was second at 58.7024s in the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsports Honda, and Penske’s Scott McLaughlin was third at 58.7156s in the No. 3 Chevy.
Elsewhere, championship leader Will Power, who sat in pit lane during the opening session before the long red flag, ended up in 10th with a 59.0287s lap. Of those who had problems, O’Ward was stranded trackside after his, while Romain Grosjean climbed out of his car in pit lane after trying to pull away for his first laps on alternate tires – a clutch problem the apparent problem.
NEXT: Practice two, Saturday, 9 am PT