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Qualifying Report: Grand Prix of Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. – Tony Kanaan and Matheus Leist will start 19th and 21st in the Grand Prix of Portland Sunday afternoon.

Despite his starting position, Kanaan is enthused about his chances tomorrow in the No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet.

“It’s kind of bittersweet because if you look at the lap times we’re only a tenth and a half from the top 12,” said Kanaan, who posted a lap time of 58.10 seconds (121.68mph). “That’s the closest we’ve been all year. We improved the car a lot but it’s that little bit (still needed). I’m happy because the boys did everything right, we timed qualifying right to have the right tire choice. We went quicker than we went in the morning so it was a step in the right direction. I’m excited. I think we’re coming from a great momentum, everybody’s uplifted (from his third place finish at Gateway) and I’m excited for tomorrow.”

Last year at this 12-turn, 1.964-mile road course, Kanaan started 24th and finished 11th.

Kanaan’s team will start the race on Firestone’s primary compound tires. Leist, who will start the 105-lap race on the Firestone alternate compound (red) tires, felt he was stronger on the primary tires in qualifying his No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet.

“Practice 3 was actually decent and gave us some direction and some things to think about,” said the Brazilian who will turn 21 a week from tomorrow (Sept. 8). “In qualifying I think my black tire pace was pretty good but we didn’t have a good run on the reds and that was it. We’re going to work on the reds (setup) for tomorrow and see if we can have a good race.”

Leist, who started 19th last year, ran in the top 10 for much of the race until an untimely caution ruined his fuel strategy. He placed 14th.

Rookie Colton Herta won his second pole of the season with a lap time of 57.81 seconds (122.3mph) beating veterans Will Power and Scott Dixon in the final seconds of the session. Rounding out the Firestone Fast Six were Jack Harvey, rookie Felix Rosenqvist and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

The Grand Prix of Portland will be broadcast live on NBC starting at 3 p.m. ET.

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