Qualifying Report: BitNile.com Grand Prix of Portland
PORTLAND (Sept. 2, 2023) -- Qualifying for the BitNile.com Grand Prix of Portland ended in the first round for AJ Foyt Racing as both Santino Ferrucci and Benjamin Pedersen did not advance. Although disappointed, the young drivers were not discouraged.
Ferrucci will start 23rd in the No. 14 Sexton Properties Chevrolet after posting a lap time of 59.0633 seconds. Ferrucci was succinct in his post qualifying comments saying, "We're clearly struggling here. We'll go through the data and see what we can come up with for final practice and hopefully improve it for tomorrow's race."
Pedersen will start 26th in the No. 55 Bavarian Meats/Sexton Properties Chevrolet having taken a different approach with his choice of Firestone tires. The team started on the alternates and then switched to the primaries because Pedersen felt those tires might be better after running the alternates. However, Pedersen's fast time of 59.2175 seconds came on the alternates.
“Slightly disappointed because I feel like we had really good pace in practice but for some reason we missed something on the car heading into qualifying," said Pedersen. "Just didn’t have the rear grip that we needed that we had in practice, so not sure why but I feel like I maximized everything we
could. It will be interesting in the warmup session later in the day to see what we’re like with race running and heavy fuel but slightly disappointed. I feel like we missed something there.”
Graham Rahal won his second pole of the season using the primaries. He posted a lap time of 58.3195 seconds, less than four hundredths of a second quicker than Scott McLaughlin. Rounding out the Firestone Fast Six were Colton Herta, Scott Dixon, Alex Palou and Pato O'Ward.
The teams will have a final practice this afternoon in preparation for tomorrow's race which will be broadcast on NBC starting at 3 p.m. ET.