By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
PORTLAND, Ore. – Two-time Grand Prix of Portland winner Sebastien Bourdais went from putting on a flyer one lap to crashing the Turn 12 barrier the very next lap.
Bourdais ran 12 laps during Friday afternoon’s practice session, with the last one being his best with a time of 57.9123 seconds (122.069 mph), knocking Will Power off the top the charts by 0.0289 seconds with just over two minutes remaining.
Then a little de ja vu struck when the right front of his No. 18 SealMaster Honda locked up and headed straight into the tire barriers.
A year ago during final practice, he also crashed in Turn 12 after setting the fastest time during that session. This time around however, there will be no “Frankenstein” machine for the four-time Indy car champion.
Instead, his Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan entry sustained a swollen arm and minimal front wing damage and was able to bring his car back into the pits in time for pit stop practice minutes later.
So @BourdaisOnTrack had a bit of an accident in his @vsindycar. Here’s what his nose looked like coming off the car, and here’s what it looks like when new. #PortlandGP #IndyCar pic.twitter.com/x1IepMv8eC
— Christopher DeHarde (@CDeHarde) August 30, 2019
Bourdais wasn’t sure how and why the incident occurred right after setting the fastest time of the afternoon, which was slower than Colton Herta’s opening practice time of 57.4923 seconds.
“I got a little bit of bottoming on the crossover from the left side in a different part of the track,” Bourdais said. “Conditioning the last corner, coming back over and it just locked up the right front and never really stopped. I’m not entirely sure why but I managed to not take much of the nose off the car. If we’re going to compare, it’s a lot better than last year. That’s for sure.”
As for the arm, it’s nothing serious to Bourdais and will soldier on.
“It’s alright,” Bourdais responded. “It’s just a hit from the bottom of the wheel on top of the hand. Just broken a little blood vessel, so it’s a little swollen. Nothing on the bone side.”
Will Power, Felix Rosenqvist, Herta and points leader Josef Newgarden rounded out the top-five.
After going fastest Friday morning, Herta commented that his No. 88 Capstone Turbine Corporation Honda showed good race pace but hasn’t really shown what he’s made of at Portland.
“We have the lap to go P1,” Herta said. “It seems like we’re good on race pace during the warmup and we’ve been good on both black and reds. Even though we didn’t fully show it in that session.”
This weekend’s Firestone tires are the same ones from Mid-Ohio, which left Herta puzzled as to how the red compounds isn’t providing rapid lap times at the 1.964-mile circuit. To the point that it rivals the primary black compounds.
“It seems like the reds are very weird this weekend,” Herta said. “They’re quite similar to the black tires which we don’t usually see. They’re usually a little bit faster and I guess we saw it in that session. A lot of guys didn’t even go faster and they put reds on.
“That might be a bit of getting used to the tire, but I think they can go a little bit faster, just not what we’re used to seeing.”
Another concern that rose was whether a two-stop strategy will pan out this time around like some drivers did a year ago, notably championship leader Josef Newgarden.
“I’m not sure they’ll last that long. Doing a two-stop is quite a big fuel number, so you have to save a lot of fuel,” Herta said. “I think it’s going to be like Mid-Ohio where’s it’s kind of on the cusp of being a two or three stopper. Both might work, but it should be an interesting race.”
Bourdais did notice that the speed improvement on the Firestone red compounds isn’t that strong but is satisfied with his start of the weekend as he’s looking to score his first win of the season.
“I’m not entirely sure if we’re strong as it shows right now, but we’ll take it,” Bourdais said. “The reds didn’t saw a massive jump. It was only a half a second, so one would argue that it’s not a big of an improvement as usual. Still pretty happy, just trying to maximize what we got.”
Qualifying will be all the rage Saturday as the fight for the pole position will unfold at 6:00 pm EST live on NBCSN. Will Power is the defending pole sitter.