NTT IndyCar Series championship leader Josef Newgarden in the No.2 Hitachi Chevrolet for Team Penske was happy with how his opening day at the Portland Grand Prix went despite the Tennessee native finishing the day’s final warm up on Friday in 11th place with a time of 59.0528s and speaking following the action he said:

“It was a good day and I think we learned a lot. I think our race car feels really good in the warm up which I was really happy about. We’ve got to survive the race most importantly here so I’m happy that feels good. I’ve got a feeling it’ll be tough tomorrow to put everything together for a qualifying run. That’s going to be the key for us – try and hit the lap and not have any reds. But I feel confident and I think this Hitachi Chevy has been fast. The guys have done a great job, as normal, so we’ve just got to be perfect tomorrow.
“I think this track, more than at any other, has such a fine line between lap times. On the right line you can go about two-tenths quicker; you make a mistake and you lose four- or five-tenths. You have to be so perfect. This track shows that it’s tight more than anywhere else we go. It’s going to be a very tough qualifying and will put an emphasis on managing traffic. If you miss it by a touch you’re in trouble.”
(Tire management) “The nerve-wracking thing is you don’t want to go on (the alternate tires) early. These red tires are so sensitive that they need to be on the first or second lap. If you miss that then you lose four- or five-tenths after that and you can’t put it back together. You want to go early to safeguard but if you go too soon, you’re going to be kicking yourself because the track wasn’t there. But honestly this is game we play everywhere. You worry about these red-tire situations.”
(Inside or outside starting position)“Probably inside. You can protect yourself a little bit better. You can actually go over the curbs and be OK. We need to be on it here and at Laguna. We’re in a favorable position but that can change so quickly. I think what people forget is that it wasn’t that long ago that we introduced double points at the finale. This was a different ballgame the last 15 years before that when you started looking at how tight it was in the championship. You have to still finish in the top-10 if someone else wins.”
Will Power in the No.12 Verizon Chevrolet was happy with how his day ended. The Australian was 12th fastest with a time of 59.1208s and speaking following the action he said:
It was a good day for our Verizon Chevy team. I think we’ve got a pretty good balance, but we’ve just still got to work on a few things that aren’t exactly right yet. It’s certainly going to be a tough, tight qualifying with it being such a short track and it’s hard to really find time. We’ll work on it tonight to come back tomorrow and hopefully be better.”
Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud in the No.22 Menards Chevrolet ended the session in 14th place with a time of 59.1889s and speaking following the day of action he said:
It was a good day. We made good progress throughout the day. I think our Menards Chevy has been improving and we’re ready to win the fight. We still have some work to do tonight and get all of the details that we can work on. I think we’ll be competitive tomorrow. It’s an exciting day. It’s definitely very tight with strong competition but I love it so I’m excited to see what we can do.
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