Ryan Hunter-Reay

Stats: Practice Results

Alex Palou regained momentum in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship race by leading the opening practice for the Grand Prix of Portland on Saturday at Portland International Raceway.

Palou’s best lap of 58.7824 seconds came after spinning off track at the final chicane at Turn 12 approximately 38 minutes into the 75-minute session. His No. 10 PNC Bank Honda suffered no damage after brushing the tire barrier.

Second-year INDYCAR driver Palou has never raced at this track, as this race was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was a little bit exciting at some moments there,” Palou said. “I love this track. It’s very exciting and really close with all the drivers. The PNC Bank car was really good.”

NTT P1 Award qualifying starts at 3:15 p.m. (ET) today, with live coverage on Peacock Premium.

Palou enters this event second in the series standings, just 10 points behind leader Pato O’Ward. Palou starts the three-race West Coast swing to finish the season after his two worst finishes of the season in the last two races, 27th at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and 20th at World Wide Technology Raceway.

Meyer Shank Racing flexed its muscle during the opening practice at Portland, with its two drivers ending up second and third behind Palou. 2021 Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge winner Helio Castroneves was second at 58.8850 in the No. 06 Meyer Shank Racing Honda, while Jack Harvey was third at 58.8887 in the No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda.

Series leader O’Ward was fourth at 58.8933 in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet, while fellow title contender Josef Newgarden rounded out the top five at 58.8947 in the No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet.

Among the other two title contenders, six-time series champion Scott Dixon was 11th at 59.0083 in the No. 9 PNC Bank Grow Up Great Honda, and Marcus Ericsson ended up 14th at 59.1181 in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

Dixon fought an ill-handling car for much of practice including spinning 23 minutes into the session. He wasn’t alone, as many drivers dipped into the dirt or sawed their steering wheels trying to control their machines on a circuit where the series hasn’t raced since 2019. Scott McLaughlin had the biggest off-course excursion, nudging the nose of his No. 3 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet into the tire barrier in Turn 14 about 65 minutes into the session.

2018 Portland winner Takuma Sato was sidelined by a mechanical problem early in the session in the No. 30 Panasonic/Mi-Jack Honda, with the team changing an engine before qualifying. 2012 series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay also suffered from mechanical gremlins early in the No. 28 DHL Honda, but the Andretti Autosport team scrambled quickly enough to make repairs so Hunter-Reay could complete an installation lap in the final minutes of practice.

A moment of silence took place at 7:28 a.m. local time in the paddock, the exact time the North Tower of the World Trade Center fell after the terrorist attack on New York on Sept. 11, 2001.