Qualifying Report: Grand Prix of Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. (Sept. 11, 2021)—The day began with a solemn tribute and a moment of silence on the INDYCAR grid as the 27 teams lined up at 7:28 a.m. (PT) to honor the 20th anniversary of the September 11thattacks on our country. The significance of the time (10:28 a.m. ET) is when the North Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed, a span of 102 minutes from when the first plane hit the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m. ET. It was the first time that the INDYCAR community came together as a group to pay public tribute to the tragedy.

The teams lined up for a moment of silence in tribute to the 9/11 tragedy which occurred 20 years ago. (INDYCAR Photo – Joe Skibinski)

The day ended with the teams logging in practice, qualifying and final practice around the 12-turn, 1.964-mile road course in preparation for tomorrow’s 110-lap Grand Prix of Portland.

In qualifying, Sebastien Bourdais advanced to the second round in his No. 14 ROKiT Chevrolet. However, a change to improve the car between rounds didn’t work as expected and he did not advance to the Firestone Fast 6. He will start 12th after posting a time of 59.2419 seconds (119.348mph).

Team President Larry Foyt checks in with Bourdais prior to qualifying.

“Obviously really quite satisfied with making the Fast 12,” Bourdais commented afterwards, adding, “Unfortunately, we just made a tiny bit of a change to try and get rid of some of the mid-corner understeer we have and it kind of bit us. We ended up losing the stability and didn’t really fix at all the understeer, so lost a couple tenths in that Fast 12 second segment. It’s a shame because it looks like we had something pretty good, and it’s all so tight and we end up P12 (after) using two sets of tires. Really happy to make it into the Fast 12 but really quite disappointed with the Fast 12 itself. So now we’ve got some work to do in the race. It’s always a tough one here, definitely try at first to survive turn one and then go from there.”

Driving his No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet at Portland for the first time, Dalton Kellett was a bit frustrated with his qualifying run despite making improvements to the car from the morning practice session. Kellett will start 24th after posting a time of 59.7438 seconds (118.345mph).

Kellett talks with driver coach Ryan Briscoe. Kellett is wearing a cool suit to combat cockpit temperatures which increased significantly with the addition of the protective aero screen last year.

“Not the session we were looking for really,” said Kellett. “It was an improvement from practice and we tidied up some sections we were losing to Seb, so was happy about that, but just ended up losing time coming on to the straightaway in (Turn) 12, and out of (Turn) 7 and that cost us quite a bit for how tight the field is. Kind of disappointed with that and that’s more on me, so it’s something to keep working on. Overall, I think we’ve definitely got a decent car and we’re going to see how it goes in final practice with the long runs and see what our average race pace is going to look like and go from there. It’s a long race tomorrow and lots can happen, so we have to be capitalizing on opportunities and other people’s mistakes to move up from where we are because we’re definitely not starting from where we want to be. So, we’ve got to make some moves.”

Rookie Alex Palou outpaced his teammate and six-time champion Scott Dixon to win his first NTT INDYCAR Series pole with a time of 58.7701 seconds (120.306mph). Alexander Rossi was second, followed by Dixon, his teammate Felix Rosenqvist, Graham Rahal and Colton Herta.

The Grand Prix of Portland will be broadcast live on NBC and the INDYCAR Radio Network starting at 3 p.m. ET.

The INDYCAR Series paid tribute to the late writer extraordinaire Robin Miller with a reserved spot in the media center and decals that were distributed to teams for the race cars