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IndyCar: Bourdais leads first practice at Portland

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Sebastien Bourdais topped opening practice for Sunday’s Portland Grand Prix (2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN) with a quick lap of 57.3975 seconds, bettering championship leader Scott Dixon by over two tenths of a second – Dixon’s best lap came in at 57.4221.

Josef Newgarden ranked third, and the top three drivers all broke the track record set by Justin Wilson in 2005 (57.597).

Marco Andretti and Will Power rounded out the top five in opening practice.

The session ran uninterrupted until a pair of stoppages in the final minutes for separate incidents. Zach Veach spun off in Turns 10 and 11, but came to a stop without hitting the barriers.

Alfonso Celis Jr., in the Juncos Racing No. 32 Chevrolet this weekend, also spun off in the same area in the final seconds before ending up in the grass off of Turn 11. However, like Veach, Celis Jr. did not hit anything, though his incident did bring the session to an end.

Of note: Dixon’s main championship rival Alexander Rossi ended up seventh, and Carlos Munoz was 22nd for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports – Munoz is subbing for Robert Wickens, who was transferred to Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis on Thursday, where he will continue to receive treatment for injuries sustained in a crash at the ABC Supply 500.

Pietro Fittipaldi did not set a time as Dale Coyne Racing battle brake issues on his No. 19 Honda.

Also of note: Tony Kanaan, who was 23rd in opening practice, and wife Lauren welcomed a new daughter, Nina, into the world on Friday. Kanaan tweeted the below picture of his new daughter in making the announcement.

Results for Practice 1 are below. Practice 2 is scheduled for 5:35 p.m. ET on Friday.

 

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Will Power, Roger Penske collect Indy 500 trophies

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images
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DETROIT (AP) Last year, Will Power finally broke through and won the Indianapolis 500, so he can cross that accomplishment off the list.

Now 37, Power is reaching an age when it’s fair to wonder how much longer he’ll keep at it.

“I’m really enjoying my racing. I’ve never been so motivated. I’m fitter than I’ve ever been, mentally on the game,” Power said. “I think once you get to this part of your career, you realize that you’re not going to be doing this forever. So you’ve got to enjoy it and you’ve got to go for it when you’ve got it, because, you know, probably only another five years at maximum, and you’re retired.”

Whenever Power’s career does wind down, his 2018 Indy 500 win will remain a moment to remember. He was in Detroit on Wednesday night with team owner Roger Penske for a ceremony in which they received their “Baby Borg” trophies for winning last year’s race. The Baby Borgs are replicas of the Borg-Warner Trophy that honors the Indy 500 winner.

Power finished second at Indy in 2015, and his victory last year made him the race’s first Australian winner. It was Penske’s 17th Indy 500 win as an owner, part of a banner year for him. Penske also won a NASCAR Cup title with driver Joey Logano.

“When you think about 2018, we had 32 race wins, 35 poles. I think we led almost 5,400 laps, with all the series,” Penske said.

On Wednesday, Penske collected another significant trophy, and he’ll be celebrated again in a couple weeks. He’s being inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Feb. 1.

“It’s amazing that a guy from the north can get into the Hall of Fame in the south,” Penske joked. “No, it’s special. … NASCAR has helped us build our brand over the years, certainly, with the reputation it has, and the notoriety we get, being a NASCAR team owner.”

Penske’s most recent Indy 500 title came courtesy of Power, who long preferred road courses to ovals but certainly looked comfortable at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year.

“The 500 was one record that he didn’t have, and I think you saw the excitement he and his wife, and the whole team, when he was able to win the race,” Penske said. “He’s probably the best qualifier we’ve ever had, as a road racer, and no question his expertise. He didn’t like ovals to start with, but I think today, he loves racing on ovals.”

Power seems content with all aspects of his racing life at the moment. The aftermath of an Indy 500 victory can be a whirlwind, and it would be understandable for a driver to be weary of it eight months later, but for Power, it’s a new experience.

“I’ve been looking forward to this event for a few months now, to actually get the Baby Borg. You have the face on it – I didn’t realize that, you actually get your own face on it,” Power said. “It makes you realize the significance of the event, when you think about all the things that come with winning the 500.”

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Follow Noah Trister at http://www.Twitter.com/noahtrister