The 25 cars danced around the Portland road course as the scheduled 75-minute practice session took nearly 2 1/2 hours to run. There was a delay of more than an hour when a large video board on the front straightaway broke and began leaking hydraulic fluid. It was a bizarre situation, but the session finally resumed and cars were able to return to the track for the remaining 51 minutes of practice.

The red flag came back out with 37 minutes remaining after Takuma Sato went off course and into the tire barrier in Turn 11. The Japanese driver was not the only driver to venture off course during practice. Scott Dixon, Alexander Rossi, Newgarden, Pato O'Ward, Helio Castroneves, Devlin DeFrancesco, and several more drivers pushed the limits on Friday.

Ironically enough, the top-three in today's practice is a mirror image of the three drivers that stood on the podium in the last race at Gateway two weeks ago. Newgarden, David Malukas, and Scott McLaughlin were followed by Andretti Autosport teammates Rossi and Colton Herta. Many drivers struggled to get a clean lap in, and found themselves further down the chart when the checkered flag finally waved.

2022 Grand Prix of Portland - Practice 1 Results
Pos Driver Team Engine
1Josef NewgardenTeam PenskeChevrolet
2David MalukasDale Coyne w/ HMD MotosportsHonda
3Scott McLaughlinTeam PenskeChevrolet
4Alexander RossiAndretti AutosportHonda
5Colton HertaAndretti AutosportHonda
6Felix RosenqvistArrow McLaren SPChevrolet
7Kyle KirkwoodAJ Foyt RacingChevrolet
8Graham RahalRahal Letterman Lanigan RacingHonda
9Alex PalouChip Ganassi RacingHonda
10Will PowerTeam PenskeChevrolet
11Scott DixonChip Ganassi RacingHonda
12Jack HarveyRahal Letterman Lanigan RacingHonda
13Devlin DeFrancescoAndretti AutosportHonda
14Callum IlottJuncos Hollinger RacingChevrolet
15Simon PagenaudMeyer Shank RacingHonda
16Marcus EricssonChip Ganassi RacingHonda
17Helio CastronevesMeyer Shank RacingHonda
18Rinus VeeKayEd Carpenter RacingChevrolet
19Christian LundgaardRahal Letterman Lanigan RacingHonda
20Conor DalyEd Carpenter RacingChevrolet
21Romain GrosjeanAndretti AutosportHonda
22Pato O'WardArrow McLaren SPChevrolet
23Dalton KellettAJ Foyt RacingChevrolet
24Jimmie JohnsonChip Ganassi RacingHonda
25Takuma SatoDale Coyne w/ Rick Ware RacingHonda

There were 24 CART races held at Portland from 1984-2007, and in 2018 IndyCar made their return to the 1.964-mile road course. The 12-turn circuit provides plenty of passing opportunities, including a quick chicane at the end of the frontstretch, a hard-braking right-hander leading onto the sweeping backstretch, and a three-turn complex leading back onto the frontstretch. That will provide plenty of drama as this race will set up the championship next weekend.

After 15 races, Will Power sits at the top of the standings, taking a slim three-point lead into this event. Newgarden is right on the heels of his teammate, as he earned his fifth win of the season the last time these cars were on track. Dixon is 14 points out of the lead as he tries to win his record-tying seventh series championship. His teammate Marcus Ericsson is also in the mix, as the Indy 500 winner is just 17 points behind Power.

This is essentially another Penske vs Ganassi battle for the championship. Alex Palou and McLaughlin are much further behind (-43 and -54) in the standings but they too are members of those two organizations.

These two teams had a different approach to the end of the season as Penske used their final test at Portland, while Ganassi opted to spend theirs at Laguna Seca in preparation for next weekend.

Penske managing director Ron Ruzewski explained why they chose Portland. “We haven’t been able to test at Portland in a while, and we know Ganassi has been strong there, historically. Both Will and Josef wanted to test there too. So ultimately, all those things weighed into our decision.”

Ganassi managing director Mike Hull shared the reason why they decided on Laguna. "For us, it is understanding how to prepare for a low grip circuit. Laguna is very low grip, and we felt like we were a bit deficient when we raced there last year. We also feel like the race track has probably degraded a bit, and we think we’ll be decent at Portland because we have a good baseline from last year."

O'Ward is the first driver outside of those two teams, but the Arrow McLaren SP ace is 58 points behind. He is not mathematically eliminated, but he will need a miracle to surpass those six drivers in just two races. Pato has only one IndyCar start at Portland, finishing 14th last season, but he has won here twice in Indy Lights.

Rossi would love to finish his tenure at Andretti Autosport on a high note. While he did get the monkey off of his back last month, another victory in the No. 27 Honda is not out of the question. In his three starts at Portland, Rossi has finished 8th, 3rd, and 2nd. With two podium results, he will be aiming for the top step on Sunday.

"It's crazy to think we are heading into the final two weeks of the year," Rossi said. "We had a good test here last week and have been competitive here in the past, so hopefully that continues and we can start the West Coast swing on a high." Teammate Romain Grosjean had a mechanical issue at the end of practice that left him very frustrated. "When I engaged the gears to go on the red tire run, something broke."

Power has had a historic year, in what has been a truly remarkable mental shift for the Team Penske veteran. With his steady and consistent approach to this season, it has him in prime position to capture his second title next weekend. He won this race in 2019 and has led 66 laps in his four career starts here. The key to Power's success has always been qualifying well, which is something he plans on continuing tomorrow.

Newgarden has had a season nearly the opposite of Power, yet the two are here fighting neck-and-neck at the end. His five wins this season trump the rest of the field and he has been dominant on all different types of tracks. It has been feast or famine though, as several poor results have prevented him from running away with this championship. If he can keep it steady these next two weekends, a third title could be in his hands.

"If we can just keep accelerating the wins, I think that’s good for all of us," Newgarden said. "This year I think we had the potential for maybe seven wins. It’s more than just the wins, it is the consistency. How often can you be on the podium? That’s becoming more and more important these days. Top-fives, podiums, being there every single weekend, not having any hiccups. Blending that with winning is ultimately the package you have to have."

The task for Josef becomes a little more difficult tomorrow. Newgarden will lose six places from his qualifying position, which is the penalty (on road course events) for an early engine change.

This is one of the very few tracks where Dixon has not yet tasted victory, but he has only raced here five times in his career. He finished 7th in both starts in CART, and has a pair of top-five finishes in IndyCar, including a podium result last year. He doesn't necessarily need to win on Sunday, but everyone expects "The Iceman" to set himself up nicely for a championship run next weekend.

Dixon also has plenty of experience being in this position. "I’ve been in many championship situations, and I think probably the biggest one was with Juan Montoya in 2015," Dixon said. "I think the series awarded double points in that final race, but we were 60 points out of the lead. That’s the point. You are never out of it until you are. You just keep digging."

Ericsson may not be the heavy weight favorites as those other three, but those guys are all former champions. They have nine titles between them, but that doesn't mean anything to the driver of the No. 8 Honda. In addition to the big win at Indy, Marcus has had another solid and steady season. In all likelihood, he will need to win one of these final two races in order to claim the title.

The last driver to win the Indy 500 and championship in the same season was Dario Franchitti, in 2010.

Felix Rosenqvist is one of the many drivers that love this circuit. "Portland was our best race last year," he said. "I thought we were competitive all through that weekend, and that was the point last season where things really turned around for us. We just have to fine-tune what we had last year. Hopefully, we can end the season on a high here. A couple of podiums would be nice." He was 6th fastest today, leading the way for the McLaren organization.

The action at Portland really picks up tomorrow, beginning with a 60-minute practice session at 12 PM ET. Qualifying for the Grand Prix of Portland begins three hours later at 3:00 with a final 30-minute practice session scheduled for 7:15. Live streaming coverage throughout the weekend is available on Peacock.