PORTLAND, Oregon – Will Power continued to show he’s serious about getting back into Verizon IndyCar Series title contention by posting the fastest lap of Friday’s second practice session at Portland International Raceway.
The winner of last week's race at Gateway Motorsports Park turned a lap of 57.4053 seconds (123.166 mph) in the No. 12 Team Penske Verizon Chevrolet to best the field of 25 entrants in that session.
Power will head to Saturday's qualifications seeking his fourth pole of the season and the 54th of his career. Power stands third in the season standings, 68 points behind Scott Dixon. Alexander Rossi is second, 26 points out of the lead.
RESULTS: Practice 1 | Practice 2 | Combined Results
Power's first weekend goal is to qualify ahead of Dixon and Rossi. Then, he believes he must repeat that feat in Sunday's Grand Prix of Portland (2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).
"We simply have to finish ahead of Dixon and Rossi," he said Friday. "There's no other two ways about it. If we don't, we really don't have a chance (at winning the title) at Sonoma."
Power won his only other series championship in 2014. He has let other championship opportunities slip away in 2010, 2011 and 2012, finishing second after leading the championship late in the season. This year's title will be decided Sept. 16 at Sonoma (California) Raceway.
Sebastien Bourdais had Friday's fastest lap at 57.3975 seconds, a pace of 123.183 mph set in the morning practice. The driver of the pink No. 18 Gorilla Automotive Products Honda for Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan is the only active driver to have won an Indy car race at this 12-turn, 1.964-mile permanent road course. He won Champ Car World Series races in 2004 and 2007.
Friday's hourlong afternoon practice was considerably warmer with the track baked in sun, but Bourdais also called it "a disjointed session" due to red flags for two off-track excursions -- Takuma Sato and Simon Pagenaud separately sliding into the tire barrier at Turn 12.
"We didn't get a lap on the (faster) red tires," Bourdais said.
Dixon was third overall at 57.4221 seconds (123.130 mph).
There were surprises in both practice sessions, and Marco Andretti was one of them. The third-generation Indy car driver had the fourth-fastest lap in the morning practice and was second in the afternoon (57.4668 seconds, 123.035 mph). Overall, his time was fourth.
In all, six drivers turned laps quicker than Justin Wilson's official track record, a lap of 57.597 seconds set in qualifying in 2005. One of those drivers was rookie Santino Ferrucci, who is competing in just his third Verizon IndyCar Series race, all for Dale Coyne Racing. He raced both ends of the Detroit doubleheader, finishing 22nd and 20th, respectively. Ferrucci's lap on Friday was 57.4818 seconds (123.002 mph).
Qualifying is Saturday at 6:20 p.m. ET. All sessions will stream live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com, youtube.com/indycar and the INDYCAR Mobile app. A same-day qualifying telecast airs at 7:30 p.m. ET. Saturday on NBCSN.
Wickens transferred to Indianapolis
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver Robert Wickens was transferred to IU Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis on Thursday to continue treatment of injuries sustained in a crash Aug. 19 at Pocono Raceway. Wickens is expected to undergo further surgery on his lower extremities soon.
Wickens had been in the care of Lehigh Valley Hospital – Cedar Crest in Allentown, Pennsylvania, since the incident. He sustained injuries to his right arm, both legs and spine. Surgeries were conducted on all three areas during his stay in Allentown.
MRTI concluding its season
Patricio O’Ward took another step toward winning his first Indy Lights championship by winning the pole for the weekend’s first race, set for Saturday at 5:05 p.m. ET. O’Ward’s lap of 1 minute, 2.8074 seconds bested Andretti Autosport teammate Colton Herta’s 1:03.1808.
Soon-to-be-champion Rinus VeeKay won the pole for the weekend’s first Pro Mazda race (Saturday, 7:50 p.m. ET). His lap was just 0.0895 seconds better than fellow rookie Oliver Askew.
Kyle Kirkwood, who has secured the USF2000 championship, led qualifying at 1:10.9581 seconds. The weekend’s first race is Saturday at 4:10 p.m.