Good morning from Weather Tech Raceway Laguna Seca.
Today’s Schedule in Eastern Times:
1:00 pm Practice 3 NBC Gold
4:35 pm Qualifying NBCSN
Qualifying for the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey could be critical to success in the race tomorrow. None of the title contenders have shown enough speed to go for the pole as of yesterday. It would be in Josef Newgarden’s favor for a non title contender to win the pole. That is one less point for Alexander Rossi or Simon Pagenaud.
I look for an action packed practice and another dramatic qualifying session today. From yesterday the pole favorites are Colton Herta and Ryan Hunter-Reay. I wouldn’t count out Felix Rosenqvist or Will Power either.
Per Racer Magazine Colton Herta as expected will drive for Andretti Autosport with backing from George Steinbrenner. Herta will be in a fifth car on the Andretti team.
Some thoughts on the track after a full day here:
The place appears daunting at first, but it is really not complicated. The worst part is it is almost all uphill. Most of the track can be viewed from the top of the hill near the Corkscrew. There is a walking path from turn 9 back to the paddock. Golf cart shuttles provide transportation up to the Corkscrew.
The views of the mountains and the bay are outstanding from the top of the hill.
Food choices are disappointing after the great choices at Sonoma. Food offerings are somewhat limited and pricey. Most places are cash only.
I recommend entering the track via South Boundary Road. The route has beautiful scenery along the one and a half mile trip to the entrance.
Back after Practice 3 with a report and the qualifying groups.
My first impression of the track is how steep it is. The track is on top of a mountain. Unlike Watkins Glen, it appears to be built into the mountain. The drop off in the corkscrew is one of the most impressive sections of track I’ve ever seen. There are other areas that seem like pretty big climbs and drops as well. I will do more looking around before and during the morning practice.
Colton Herta led yesterday’s test session. Among the title contenders, Josef Newgarden was fourth fastest in the afternoon practice. In the morning test, Ryan Hunter=Reay did seven in laps in Alexander Rossi’s car to see if he could find something to help his teammate this weekend.
I was not aware that pit out and turn 1 go uphill. That will make out laps interesting on cold tires.
I’ll be back after the first practice. Mark Miles and Jay Frye will give a state of the series address at 11:45 and I will include that as well.
Was that qualifying or boxing match? What a tremendous battle between Colton Herta and Will Power. They traded the lead back and forth for three rounds before Herta emerged on the pole. Power’s miscue in turn one on his next to last lap may have cost him the pole. Herta was quick all weekend, though, and the result isn’t a surprise.
This session was the best road/street course qualifying of the year. There was drama throughout.
Scott Dixon is the only one of the top four in points to get in the Fast Six. Leader Josef Newgarden starts 13th, a dangerous place to be going into turn 1 at the start here. Simon Pagenaud starts 18 and Alexander Rossi 7th. Watching the championship contenders’ progress in the race will be an interesting task tomorrow.
Jack Harvey has done a great job all year. In eight races to date, he has finished in the top ten in four of them. Today is the fifth time Harvey has advanced to at least the second round of qualifying. Today is his second Fast Six. I can’t wait to see what he does as a full time driver next year.
Conor Daly did it again. He jumps into a car for a different team and puts it into Round 2. Daly will start 9th, his best starting spot of the season. This is his second time in Round 2. He also has two top ten finishes. Daly deserves a full time ride in 2020. I don’t know what else he can do to prove himself.
Great job the Arrow Schmidt Peterson team to get both cars into Round 2.
Five teams in the Fast Six always makes the final round fun.
Felix Rosenqvist missed turn1 in two consecutive rounds but still made the Fast Six.
Power said after qualifying that there is not as much difference between the red and black tires this year as there was last year at Portland. He still thinks cars will be able to pass during the race.
Herta gambled by waiting to run one final lap on reds. He was nearly as fast on blacks.
Chalk up another one for the 2019 rookies. The scoreboard- 3 poles, 1 win.
Back tomorrow morning with a race preview. It looks like we will have a fun race tomorrow.
First, news I hate reporting about. Sad news from Spa. F2 driver Antoine Hubert suffered fatal injuries in a horrific crash at the start of the race this morning.
Colton Herta led his second session of the weekend in final practice this morning for the Grand Prix of Portland. Herta was the only drive to turn a lap in less than 57 seconds and turned the weekend’s fastest lap yesterday morning. His time of 57.9939 seconds beat the second quickest time of series points leader Josef Newgarden by 0.1083 seconds. Will Power was third, followed by Scott Dixon and Alexander Rossi.
Red flags flew twice. Matheus Leist spun in turn 2 and stalled as he attempted to restart the car. Late in the session Santino Ferrucci’s car stopped just after exiting the pits. Practice resumed after the car was towed back to his pit. It was an adventurous session for Ferrucci. Rossi was coming out of the pits as Ferrucci entered turn 1. The cars nearly touched and Ferrucci needed to go through the chicane. He was not happy with Rossi.
Hondas again dominated practice. The Team Penske cars of Newgarden and Power were the only Chevys in the top ten.
Group 1` Group 2
Katherine Legge will drive the 2 seater at the start of tomorrow’s race. She says she is working on a ride for next year’s Indianapolis 500.
The 2020 schedule will be released near the beginning of the pre-race show on NBC tomorrow.
Another nice crowd on hand at Portland International Raceway today.
Good morning from Portland International Raceway for Day two of the Grand Prix of Portland. Today’s NTT Indycar Series schedule: All times Eastern
Practice 3– 2:00 pm-2:45 NBC Gold
Qualifying- 6:00 pm- 7:15 NBC Sports
In addition to the Indycar action, all three steps on the Road to Indy run their first of two races today. Rinus VeeKay has the pole for the Indy Lights race at 4:50 pm Eastern.
Sebastien Bourdais’s practice yesterday afternoon was similar to last year’s Saturday practice here. In bot sessions he set the fastest lap then ran off course in turn 11. The difference is this year the nose of his car barely nudged the tires. Last year’s damage had Bourdais qualifying and racing a car made up of a mixture of parts.
I will try to find out about the 2020 schedule today and see if I confirm some other things I’m hearing. I’ll be back after practice 3.
Here are a couple of photos from Kyle McInnes. One is of Bourdais, the other is Simon Pagenaud preparing for next week’s BC39 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Sebastien Bourdais recorded the fastest lap in Practice 2, setting the quick time with about five minutes to go in the session. Will Power had set the fast time with about 20 minutes left in the practice. Bourdais’ lap was 57.923 seconds. He bettered Power quick time by 0.0289 seconds.
After Bourdais’s fast lap, he went off track in turn 11 and slid gently into the tire barrier. There just two minutes remaining in the session. The red flag ended the practice period.
Felix Rosenqvist led the majority of the afternoon. Colton Herta was fourth after leading morning practice.
Teams are preparing for the put stop practice session, a 30 minute period.
Another great Friday crowd is on hand at Portland. This event has been embraced by the fans here.
If as much dust is kicked up tomorrow during qualifying as has been put on the track today, it will be an interesting qualifying session.
Times were faster in session one. Most teams didn’t go to the red tires this afternoon until there were less than 10 minutes left.
I hope we see more of the Oberto livery on Marco Andretti’s car next year. It’s the best livery that car uses.
In the warmup/pit stop practice session, Ryan Hunter-Reay had the best lap at 58.2729.
Indycar’s final practice is tomorrow at 2 pm Eastern and qualifying is at 6 pm Eastern.