Unfortunate King shines in Portland

Despite not racing for over a month, Jordan King returned to action in style as he progressed through to the second stage of qualifying and ran inside the top-three places in the Grand Prix of Portland before being caught out by an untimely yellow flag.

Jordan stated his intent in Portland in Friday’s practice sessions as he impressed on his first time around the 1.964-mile Portland International Raceway. Recording a best lap time of 57.7873, Jordan finished the first session of the weekend in 6th place before finishing inside the top-ten once again as he finished practice two in 9th place.

In the final Practice of the weekend on Saturday morning, Jordan finished in 12th place with a 57.8710 lap time and, because he had an even-numbered finishing position, he was assigned to Round 1, Group 1 for the qualifications.

When the 10-minute session began, Jordan headed straight out immediately on a set of black Firestone Firehawks and after three laps, Jordan sat in 7th place. They came into the pit lane for a set of the quicker red Firehawks and completed three more laps. At the checkered flag, Jordan had set an impressive lap time of 57.5718 to finish Group 1 in 3rd to advance through to Round 2.

Advancing out of the first round of qualifications once again, Jordan has now progressed out of group one qualifying in half of the possible races this year. The rookie then began the next session on another set of black Firehawk tyres, switching to a second set of sticker reds after three laps. His final lap was recorded a quickest with a lap time of 57.9010, with a speed of 122.112 mph, giving him a 12th starting position in tomorrow’s race.

“The first session, we did a good job and I was quite happy what the car. The track really changed between Rounds 1 and 2. I was two or three tenths slower than I did in the first session so I’m a bit annoyed. We should have been solidly inside the Top 10. The difference between blacks and reds seems quite big here, so it will be interesting to see who has a good car on what tyre during the race. Portland is good fun!”

At the start of the Grand Prix of Portland, Jordan started the race in 12th place and a five-car incident occurred just after the chicane on the opening lap and Jordan managed to avoid the collision to move up to 7th place. Once the stranded cars had been recovered, the restart came on Lap 7 and Jordan managed to pick off Jack Harvey for the 6th position. Later in the lap, pole-sitter Will Power suddenly slowed on course – moving Jordan up to 5th place.

King, who had started on the alternate red tyres, was able to stretch his first load of fuel to Lap 31. He then came into the pit lane, choosing a scuffed set of red Firehawks for his second stint. On Lap 43, Power made contact with the tyre barrier, bringing out the second full course caution of the day with Jordan running in 4th place.

King then moved himself into the podium places as he passed Ryan Hunter-Reay on Lap 49. When the next yellow flag flew on Lap 55, Jordan had to use the caution to pit. The Top 3 cars before the caution came out of the pits in 16th (Josef Newgarden), 17th (Alexander Rossi) and 18th (King). Rossi and Newgarden were able to move through a gaggle of slower cars after the Lap 60 restart, but the cars fanned out in front of Jordan. By the time Jordan was also able to get his No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet through the group into 14th place, Newgarden and Rossi had taken off.

After the strategy of the race had moved out of King’s favour, he worked to make the most of the situation. As all drivers have to complete at least two race laps on each compound of tyres, he was forced to complete his final stint on a set of the primary black tyres. Matheus Leist was able to overtake King with only two laps remaining, dropping King to 15th where he would finish the race.

“The race got off to a really solid start. I was overtaking people, shifting shapes, really cracking on. I had made it all the way up to P3 behind Alexander Rossi and was having good fun racing with him. Then the yellow came out and turned everything around. It was really unlucky timing as we were heading for a strong result. Fortunately, we’ve got Sonoma in two weeks’ time so I’m looking forward to getting back in the car.”

Jordan will now have a week off before heading to the season finale, the Grand Prix of Sonoma, where the 2018 season will conclude at Sonoma Raceway on September 16.