IndyCar | Grand Prix of Portland | Newgarden tops heavily disrupted first practice ahead of Malukas
Josef Newgarden topped a heavily disrupted first practice at Portland ahead of David Malukas.
Josef Newgarden topped a very disrupted first practice session at Portland for Team Penske ahead of rookie David Malukas and teammate Scott McLaughlin.
Newgarden set a 00:58.5769 on the 1.967 mile circuit as his title rivals Marcus Ericsson and Scott Dixon floundered outside the top 10.
McLaughlin explained after the session the reasons behind Team Penske’s decision to test at Portland rather than Laguna Seca prior to the weekend.
He said: “Yeah, we struggled last year as a team so it was early on our radar we were going to come here regardless of the championship fight. Yeah, I think it was a good call. We feel like we've got reasonable machines for Laguna.
The New Zealander also said that Turn 1 is incredibly unpredictable at Portland and tricky to plan for.
McLaughlin said: “I don't think you can plan here. You've just got to get through it.
“Keep your front wing on it. But really today doesn't -- yeah, there was a lot of red flags and stuff, but I think we can't preempt what's going to happen at Turn 1.
“What will happen will happen, and hopefully you'll be on the right side of it.”
Arrow McLaren SP driver Felix Rosenqvist set the sixth quickest time with a 00:58.8458 just ahead of Kyle Kirkwood.
The 30-year-old also lamented the potential difficulty of Turn 1 on the first lap: “Turn 1, the problem there is you can get pushed by someone, and then having to cut because of that, and then you're automatically slotted back out and behind everyone who actually made the corner. That's tricky.
“I guess the best thing you can do is try and stay on the inside and not be on the outside because that's where I guess you have more control from there. It's always tricky and I've been kind of on both sides of it, so always interesting.”
Kyle Kirkwood delivered a strong first practice session setting the seventh quickest time for A. J. Foyt Enterprises.
He also tested test at Portland before the race weekend and explained that the testing was vital for hitting the ground running in the opening stages.
“Yeah, we came here and tested, obviously, last week, so that's obviously beneficial, especially when you have such a short session like that.
“It was us, Penske and Andretti here. Given that it was short, I had a lot of time on track.
“We were able to kind of get our car in the place we wanted, and showed up today and still doing big changes, but ultimately we had track time last week, so it definitely is beneficial at least for the first practice.