Christian Rasmussen

Christian Rasmussen continued to lay claim to the 2023 INDY NXT by Firestone championship, leading the opening practice Friday for the Grand Prix of Portland at Portland International Raceway.

Rasmussen, from Denmark, led with a top lap of 1 minute, 2.8194 seconds in the No. 6 HMD Motorsports with DCR car. Rasmussen, who has won three of the last four races, leads Hunter McElrea by 50 points in the standings with three races remaining.

SEE: Practice Results

“We’re starting off where we left off at St. Louis, so that’s good,” Rasmussen said. “We knew we had a strong car around here, that this was going to be a strong weekend. So far, so good. I’m looking forward to another practice and qualifying tomorrow, and hopefully we can stay up front.”

Up next is the second practice at 2:20 p.m. ET Saturday on the 12-turn, 1.964-mile road course, followed by qualifying at 7:30 p.m. ET (both sessions live on INDYCAR LIVE and the INDYCAR Radio Network). Live coverage of the 35-lap race starts at 1:10 p.m. ET Sunday on Peacock and the INDYCAR Radio Network.

Rasmussen and the rest of the field will aim in qualifying for the track record for the series, 1:02.8074 by current NTT INDYCAR SERIES star Pato O’Ward in 2018. Rasmussen’s quick time in this session was only .0120 of a second slower than O’Ward’s mark.

Kyffin Simpson returned to the series with speed after a one-race hiatus, ending up second at 1:02.9945 in the No. 21 HMD Motorsports with CGR machine. Simpson missed the round last weekend at World Wide Technology Raceway due to a clashing European Le Mans Series race.

McElrea was third at 1:03.0333 in the No. 27 Smart Motors machine fielded by Andretti Autosport.

Louis Foster was fourth overall and the top rookie at 1:03.0517 in the No. 26 Copart/USF Pro Championship car of Andretti Autosport, and Jacob Abel rounded out the top five at 1:03.1108 in the No. 51 Abel Motorsports machine.