One of the most bizarre events we’ve ever seen during an IndyCar session took place on Friday at Portland International Raceway as a red flag lasting one hour and 21 minutes was required to secure a large trackside video display board that was at risk of falling onto the front straight near the start/finish line.
Held aloft by a giant telescoping lift, one of the hydraulic rams holding the board high overhead failed, with crews from the NTT IndyCar Series teams adjacent to the screen reporting the cap on the end of the ram flew off and began spewing hydraulic fluid. With the lift starting to lower, the left side of the board hit and came to rest atop a trailer, leaving the display sitting at an awkward angle.
Wedged into a tight space, attempts were made to extricate the video board, and after plenty of time was lost, the decision was made to strap the back of the board to a variety of mounting points behind the unit, which ensured it could only fall backwards. Satisfied with the efforts to secure the board, the session was restarted after the opening 24 minutes of green featured Callum Ilott as the fastest driver before the long stoppage occurred.
With 53 minutes of green running left to go, Alexander Rossi eventually established the fast lap of 59.4390s on Firestone’s faster alternate tires, but in the final stanza, red flags for spins and crashes that included Helio Castroneves, Takuma Sato, and Pato O’Ward slowed the action.
As the clock wound down towards 10 minutes, constant changes atop the speed chart saw Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden take command with a lap of 58.5769s in the No. 2 Chevy. Dale Coyne Racing’s David Malukas was second at a 58.7024s in the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsports Honda, and Penske’s Scott McLaughlin was third with a 58.7156s in the No. 3 Chevy.
Elsewhere, championship leader Will Power, who sat on pit lane during the opening of the session before the long red flag, ended up in 10th with a 59.0287s lap. Of those who had issues, O’Ward was stranded trackside after his, while Romain Grosjean climbed from his car on pit lane after trying to pull away for his first laps on alternate tires — a clutch issue the suspected problem.
UP NEXT: Practice two, Saturday, 9 a.m. PT