Pro Mazda Practice Session #1 – Rinus VeeKay leads the way and clinches the Pro Mazda Presented By Cooper Tire Championship.

The first open-wheel series on the 1.964-mile, 12-turn Portland International Raceway natural terrain course were the Mazda powered Tatuus PM-18 of the Pro Mazda series.

The 25-minute practice session was the fourth and most crucial practice session that Rinus VeeKay has led during the 2018 season.

By taking the green flag on the first official practice session of the race weekend, the Juncos Racing rookie goes from the presumptive Pro Mazda Champion to the official winner of an almost $800,000 Mazda Motorsports Advancement Scholarship.

VeeKay’s lap of 1:06.543 is well below the track record of 1:08.466 set by Pablo Donoso in 2005.

The three drivers that are in contention for third place (a $20,000 prize and Indy Lights test), David Malukas, Oliver Askew, and Robert Megennis were the second, third and fourth quickest drivers, all within 2/10ths of VeeKay.

The top six drivers were all within 4/10ths.

The entire session was run under green conditions, and the eight drivers turned a total of 143 laps.

Portland International Raceway – Pro Mazda Practice Session #1 results

1 2 Rinus VeeKay 1:06.543 –.—- 20
2 79 David Malukas 1:06.700 0.1567 17
3 3 Oliver Askew 1:06.714 0.1713 19
4 9 Robert Megennis 1:06.799 0.2563 15
5 90 Parker Thompson 1:06.893 0.3504 19
6 82 Sting Ray Robb 1:06.941 0.3981 20
7 8 Nikita Lastochkin 1:07.440 0.8975 18
8 12 Moises de la Vara 1:08.327 1.7840 15

The Pro Mazda Presented By Cooper Tire series is back on track for qualifying at 1:15 PM.

Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires practice session #1 – O’Ward pips Herta in a tight practice session.

Indy Lights points leader Patricio O’Ward spent much of the first and only practice session of the weekend behind fellow championship rival and teammate Colton Herta on the timing screens.

However, a last-second lap 1:03.933 seconds moved the Mexican driver to the point, only 0.086 seconds ahead of Herta.

O’Ward’s quickest lap is full second under the track record set by Townsend Bell in 2001.

It’s the fourth practice session that the 19-year-old has led this season.

The eight Indy Lights entries followed the Pro Mazda cars on the track, and when their practice session began it was 74F, and there was just the slightest mist in the air.

The 40-minute session was only green for nine minutes before the red flag came out for the first and only time.

Series returnee Heamin Choi was the cause of the red flag when his No.7 Juncos Racing Mazda/Dallara came to a stop in the bypass of the Festival Curves with left front suspension damage. The car of the South Korean turned left into the concrete wall under braking for Turn 1. Choi was only able to complete three laps.

At the half-way point of the session, Colton Herta had the quickest lap, followed by the championship leader Patricio O’Ward, Victor Franzoni, Ryan Norman, Santi Urrutia, Aaron Telitz, Dalton Kellett and Heamin Choi.

The top five drivers all set their quickest laps of the session on their final laps.

Portland International Raceway – Pro Mazda Practice Session #1 results

1 27 Patricio O’Ward 1:03.933 –.—- 25
2 98 Colton Herta 1:04.019 0.0859 22
3 9 Aaron Telitz 1:04.235 0.3012 24
4 23 Victor Franzoni 1:04.263 0.3295 24
5 48 Ryan Norman 1:04.445 0.5111 23
6 5 Santi Urrutia 1:04.692 0.7591 24
7 28 Dalton Kellett 1:05.185 1.2512 27
8 7 Heamin Choi 1:28.168 24.2347 3

The Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires drivers are back on track at 1:50 PM for their first qualifying session of the weekend.