• 6:51 pm
  • Wednesday
  • September 22, 2021

Palou Seizes Points Lead with Victory at Portland

PORTLAND, ORE. (INM) – Ten laps into the Grand Prix of Portland, Alex Palou was running in 16th place after starting from the pole, and his NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship hopes were in a heap of trouble.

Fast-forward 100 laps, and Palou earned his series-best third victory this season and has a 25-point lead in the championship standings with just two races remaining.

Winner, winner, chicken dinner for second-year NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver Palou, who celebrates victories with a meal of fried chicken.

Driver Quote Videos

“We kept our heads down, and we knew the race was really long,” Palou said. “I cannot believe it. We made it (on fuel). The guys made it. They just gave me the numbers, and we just follow it. The strategy was amazing.”

NTT P1 Award winner Palou overcame losing positions from the anticipated snarl in Turns 1 through 3 on the opening lap at Portland International Raceway and used a combination of impeccable driving in the No. 10 PNC Bank Honda and smart pit strategy from Chip Ganassi Racing to beat Alexander Rossi’s No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS/AutoNation Honda to the finish by 1.2895 seconds. Reigning series champion Scott Dixon finished third in the No. 9 PNC Bank Grow Up Great Honda to keep his hopes alive for a record-tying seventh title.

Jack Harvey finished fourth in the No. 60 AutoNation/Sirius XM Honda, with championship contender Josef Newgarden fifth in the No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet.

Palou leads Pato O’Ward by 25 points with the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey on Sunday, Sept. 19 and the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday, Sept. 26 remaining in the 2021 season. O’Ward led 28 laps early in the race but faded in the second half in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet, finishing 14th.

Two-time series champion Newgarden is third in the standings, 34 points behind Palou. Dixon is fourth, 49 points behind the leader, and Marcus Ericsson is fifth, 75 points back. Ericsson finished seventh in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

“I don’t care that much about the points at this moment,” Palou said. “I think the race we did today, it’s just amazing. Not me, but the guys, with the strategy, with the pit stops, with everything. With all the bad luck we had, we still won. I’m proud about that. Fried chicken tonight!”

Two races remain in the season, with a maximum of 54 points available at each: the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey on Sunday, Sept. 19 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday, Sept. 26 on the streets of Long Beach, California.

Palou took the lead for good on Lap 86 when Ericsson made his final pit stop from the top spot. The Spaniard never was threatened by Rossi down the stretch despite two restarts, inexorably expanding his lead lap by lap on the Firestone primary “black” tires, which have more durability than the Firestone alternate “red” tires that Andretti Autosport fastened to Rossi’s car on his final stop.

“It was a big fight, for sure,” Rossi said. “(Palou) did a good job, he didn’t make any mistakes. The red tires have a peak that’s a little bit better, but they certainly have a bit more fall-off, which is what they’re supposed to do. That’s the beauty of INDYCAR racing with the different strategies.”

The march to victory by Palou seemed almost unthinkable after the chaos that unfolded at the start of the race in the tight right-left chicane in Turn 1, one of the most fraught flashpoints in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.

Palou and Dixon both overshot Turns 1 and 2 of the three-turn chicane at the end of the front straight after Dixon’s car was nudged from behind by the No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet of Felix Rosenqvist, who also went wide in Turn 1 along with Colton Herta’s No. 26 Gainbridge Honda and others.

Neither Palou nor Dixon suffered damage in the melee that triggered the first of four caution periods in the race. But five drivers in the mid-pack and rear of the field – Will Power, Romain Grosjean, Oliver Askew, James Hinchcliffe and Helio Castroneves – all were forced to the pits or paddock for repairs after contact in the fracas. Hinchcliffe was unable to continue.

INDYCAR rules state that cars avoiding the collision and remaining on the racing surface at the timing lines embedded in the track through the chicane are placed at the front of the field on the restart, with drivers avoiding the collision but leaving the racetrack placed behind them, followed by drivers involved in the incident.

That caused a massive reshuffle of the order, as O’Ward and Rahal claimed first and second on the restart on Lap 11 because they stayed on track and clean in the first-lap incident. Meanwhile, Palou was moved to 16th, Dixon 17th, Rosenqvist 18th, Rossi 19th, Newgarden 21st and Herta 22nd for the restart after INDYCAR officials reviewed timing loop data, and those drivers’ long road back toward the front began.

Palou, Dixon, Herta and Rossi were among the drivers who pitted under yellow on Lap 9. Those stops triggered a tactical battle of varying fuel and pit strategies for the rest of the race, as teams and drivers decided whether to overcut or undercut rivals with fast pit-in and pit-out laps and perfectly executed stops.

O’Ward stayed out front until he made his first pit stop on Lap 29, handing the lead to Graham Rahal in the No. 15 Total Quartz Honda. Various pit cycles thrust Ed Jones, Harvey, Dixon and Palou into short stints out front before Rahal took control of the race on Lap 44.

Rahal maintained a lead of around 2.5 seconds over O’Ward until rookie Callum Ilott and Dalton Kellett both slowed on track in separate spots on Lap 51, triggering the second caution period of the race on Lap 52.

While a handful of drivers pitted, Rahal elected to stay out and led until Lap 74, when he and second-place Jones pitted to hand the lead to Harvey.

Pit cycles then unfolded over the next 12 laps before Palou, who made his final stop on Lap 79, one lap before teammate Dixon, took the lead for good on Lap 86.

Palou pulled away from Rossi on restarts on Lap 89 and Lap 92 after brief caution periods and reached the checkered flag leading 29 laps for the race. Rahal led a race-high 36 laps before finishing 10th.

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Grand Prix of Portland Race Results

PORTLAND, Oregon (INM) – Results Sunday of the Grand Prix of Portland NTT INDYCAR SERIES event on the 1.964-mile Portland International Raceway, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (1) Alex Palou, Honda, 110, Running
2. (2) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 110, Running
3. (3) Scott Dixon, Honda, 110, Running
4. (20) Jack Harvey, Honda, 110, Running
5. (18) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 110, Running
6. (4) Felix Rosenqvist, Chevrolet, 110, Running
7. (10) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 110, Running
8. (6) Colton Herta, Honda, 110, Running
9. (15) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 110, Running
10. (5) Graham Rahal, Honda, 110, Running
11. (8) Ed Jones, Honda, 110, Running
12. (26) Takuma Sato, Honda, 110, Running
13. (14) Will Power, Chevrolet, 110, Running
14. (7) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 110, Running
15. (27) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 110, Running
16. (16) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 110, Running
17. (25) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 110, Running
18. (12) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 110, Running
19. (11) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 110, Running
20. (22) Jimmie Johnson, Honda, 110, Running
21. (23) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 109, Running
22. (21) Romain Grosjean, Honda, 95, Running
23. (17) Helio Castroneves, Honda, 91, Running
24. (9) Oliver Askew, Honda, 89, Contact
25. (19) Callum Ilott, Chevrolet, 77, Mechanical
26. (24) Dalton Kellett, Chevrolet, 50, Mechanical
27. (13) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 1, Contact

Race Statistics
Winner’s average speed: 102.011 mph
Time of Race: 02:07:04.1304
Margin of victory: 1.2895 seconds
Cautions: 4 for 20 laps
Lead changes: 12 among 8 drivers

Lap Leaders:
O’Ward, Pato 1-28
Rahal, Graham 29-34
Jones, Ed 35-36
Harvey, Jack 37-39
Dixon, Scott 40-42
Palou, Alex 43
Rahal, Graham 44-73
Harvey, Jack 74-75
Palou, Alex 76-78,
Dixon, Scott 79
McLaughlin, Scott 80-84
Ericsson, Marcus 85
Palou, Alex 86-110

NTT INDYCAR SERIES point standings: 
Palou 477
O’Ward 452
Newgarden 443
Dixon 428
Ericsson 402
Herta 348
Rahal 342
Power 332
Pagenaud 329
Rossi 299

 

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Grand Prix of Portland Qualifying Results

PORTLAND, Oregon (INM) – Qualifying Saturday for the Grand Prix of Portland NTT INDYCAR SERIES event on the 1.964-mile Portland International Raceway, with qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, time and speed in parentheses:

1. (10) Alex Palou, Honda, 58.7701 seconds (120.306 mph)
2. (27) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 58.8573 (120.128)
3. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 58.8673 (120.107)
4. (7) Felix Rosenqvist, Chevrolet, 58.9505 (119.938)
5. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 59.0067 (119.824)
6. (26) Colton Herta, Honda, 59.2796 (119.272)
7. (5) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 58.9732 (119.892)
8. (18) Ed Jones, Honda, 59.0247 (119.787)
9. (45) Oliver Askew, Honda, 59.0837 (119.668)
10. (8) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 59.0901 (119.655)
11. (59) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 59.2346 (119.363)
12. (14) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 59.2419 (119.348)
13. (29) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 59.2537 (119.324)
14. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 59.0032 (119.831)
15. (3) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 59.3563 (119.118)
16. (20) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 59.0974 (119.640)
17. (06) Helio Castroneves, Honda, 59.4190 (118.992)
18. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 59.1371 (119.559)
19. (77) Callum Ilott, Chevrolet, 59.5008 (118.829)
20. (60) Jack Harvey, Honda, 59.1463 (119.541)
21. (51) Romain Grosjean, Honda, 59.6344 (118.562)
22. (21) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 59.1885 (119.456)
23. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Honda, 59.7120 (118.408)
24. (30) Takuma Sato, Honda, 59.1953 (119.442)
25. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, No Time (No Speed)
26. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 59.6591 (118.513)
27. (4) Dalton Kellett, Chevrolet, 59.7438 (118.345)

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Grand Prix of Portland Quick Facts

Race weekend: Saturday, Sept. 11 – Sunday, Sept. 12

Track: Portland International Raceway, a 12-turn, 1.964-mile road course in Portland, Oregon

Race distance: 110 laps / 216.04 miles

Entry List:

Driver Video Quotes:

Push-to-pass parameters: 200 seconds of total time with a maximum time of 20 seconds per activation.

Firestone tire allotment: Six sets primary, four sets alternate. Teams must use one set of primary and one new set of alternate tires in the race. (Note: A seventh set of primary tires is available to any car fielding a rookie driver.)

Twitter: @Portland_GP, @IndyCar, #PortlandGP, #INDYCAR

Event website: www.portlandgp.com

INDYCAR website: www.IndyCar.com

2019 race winner: Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet)

2019 pole winner: Colton Herta (No. 88 Capstone Turbine Honda), 57.8111 seconds, 122.302 mph

Qualifying record: Will Power, 57.2143 seconds, 123.577 mph, Sept. 1, 2018 (Set in Round 1 of knockout qualifying)

NBC television broadcast: Race, 3 p.m. ET Sunday, Sept. 12, NBC (live). Leigh Diffey is the lead announcer alongside analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy.

Peacock Premium Live Streaming: Saturday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice sessions and qualifying will stream live on Peacock Premium, NBC’s direct-to-consumer livestreaming product.

INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts: Nick Yeoman will be the lead announcer alongside analyst Davey Hamilton. Jake Query and Michael Young are the turn announcers. Ryan Myrehn and Alex Wolff will report from the pits. The Grand Prix of Portland will air live on network affiliates, Sirius XM 205, indycar.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app powered by NTT DATA. All NTT INDYCAR SERIES practices and qualifying are available on SiriusXM 205, indycar.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app.

At-track schedule (all times local):

Saturday, Sept. 11

9 – 10:15 a.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice, Peacock Premium (live)

12:15 – 1:30 p.m. – Qualifying for the NTT P1 Award (three rounds of knockout qualifying), Peacock Premium (live)

3:15 – 3:45 p.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES final practice, Peacock Premium (live)

Sunday, Sept. 12

12:05 p.m. – Driver introductions

12:35 p.m. – Command to start engines

12:42 p.m. – Grand Prix of Portland (110 laps/216.04 miles), NBC (live)

Championship facts:

  • Pato O’Ward leads the NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship with three races to go for the first time in his career. O’Ward also led the points after his win in the second race of the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit in June.
  • Since the first INDYCAR SERIES race at Portland International Raceway, the winning driver has won the INDYCAR SERIES championship in the same season 10 times: Bobby Rahal (1987), Danny Sullivan (1988), Emerson Fittipaldi (1989), Michael Andretti (1991), Al Unser Jr. (1994), Alex Zanardi (1998), Gil de Ferran (2000), Cristiano da Matta (2002), Sebastien Bourdais (2004 and 2007).

Key championship point statistic: Since 2008, the driver who has led the championship with three races to go has won the championship eight times – Scott Dixon in 2008, 2018 and 2020, Dario Franchitti in 2011, Will Power in 2014, Simon Pagenaud in 2016 and Josef Newgarden in 2017 and 2019.

Point differential: The 10 points that separate Pato O’Ward and Alex Palou is the fourth-closest point margin since 2008. Prior to this season, the average lead with three races to go since 2008 was 31.7 points.

Championship-eligible drivers results at Portland International Raceway:

  • There are 11 drivers still mathematically eligible for the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship: Pato O’Ward, Alex Palou, Josef Newgarden, Scott Dixon, Marcus Ericsson, Colton Herta, Simon Pagenaud, Graham Rahal, Will Power, Takuma Sato and Rinus VeeKay. Any driver who trails the points leader by 108 points or more following the race will be eliminated from contention.

CHAMPIONSHIP WITH THREE TO GO (2008-2021)

YEAR LEADER SECOND  LEAD CHAMPION
2008 Scott Dixon Helio Castroneves 78 Scott Dixon
2009 Ryan Briscoe Dario Franchitti 4 Dario Franchitti
2010 Will Power Dario Franchitti 23 Dario Franchitti
2011 Dario Franchitti Will Power 26 Dario Franchitti
2012 Will Power Ryan Hunter-Reay 5 Ryan Hunter-Reay
2013 Helio Castroneves Scott Dixon 49 Scott Dixon
2014 Will Power Helio Castroneves 4 Will Power
2015 Juan Pablo Montoya Graham Rahal 42 Scott Dixon (-48)
2016 Simon Pagenaud Will Power 27 Simon Pagenaud
2017 Josef Newgarden Scott Dixon 18 Josef Newgarden
2018 Scott Dixon Alexander Rossi 29 Scott Dixon
2019 Josef Newgarden Alexander Rossi 35 Josef Newgarden
2020 Scott Dixon Josef Newgarden 72 Scott Dixon
2021 Pato O’Ward Alex Palou 10 ?

Race notes:

  • There have been nine different winners in 13 NTT INDYCAR SERIES races this season. Alex Palou (Barber Motorsports Park, Road America), Colton Herta (Streets of St. Petersburg), Scott Dixon (Texas Motor Speedway-1), Pato O’Ward (Texas Motor Speedway-2, Raceway at Belle Isle Park-2), Rinus VeeKay (Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course-1), Helio Castroneves (Indianapolis 500), Marcus Ericsson (Raceway at Belle Isle Park-1 and Streets of Nashville), Josef Newgarden (Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and World Wide Technology Raceway) and Will Power (Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course-2) have all won in 2021. The modern record (1946-present) for most different winners in a season is 11 in 2000, 2001 and 2014.
  • There have been seven different winners in the last 10 NTT INDYCAR SERIES races (Pato O’WardRinus VeeKay, Helio Castroneves, Alex PalouMarcus Ericsson, Josef Newgarden and Will Power) The only repeat winners in that stretch are O’Ward (Texas-2, and Raceway at Belle Isle Park-2), Ericsson (Raceway at Belle Isle Park-1 and Streets of Nashville) and Newgarden (Mid-Ohio and WWT Raceway).
  • The Grand Prix of Portland will be the 27th INDYCAR SERIES race at Portland International Raceway, but the third since the NTT INDYCAR SERIES returned in 2018. Al Unser Jr. won the first INDYCAR SERIES race at Portland in 1984, while Will Power won the most recent race in 2019. Power, Takuma Sato and Sebastien Bourdais, who won in 2004 and 2007, are the only former winners entered in this year’s race.
  • Six INDYCAR SERIES drivers have won at Portland International Raceway from the pole – Danny Sullivan (1988), Al Unser Jr. (1994), Alex Zanardi (1996), Max Papis (2001), Cristiano da Matta (2002) and Sebastien Bourdais (2004).
  • Team Penske has won six times at Portland International Raceway. Penske’s winning INDYCAR SERIES drivers are Danny Sullivan (1988), Emerson Fittipaldi (1993), Al Unser Jr. (1994 and 1995), Gil de Ferran (2000) and Will Power (2019). Chip Ganassi Racing has two wins at Portland with Alex Zanardi in 1996 and 1998. Newman/Haas Racing won a record eight times at Portland.
  • Seventeen drivers entered in the event have competed in past INDYCAR SERIES races at Portland International Raceway. Sebastien Bourdais has seven starts, most among the entered drivers. Ten entered drivers have led laps at the track (Bourdais 149, Will Power 66, Colton Herta 36, Alexander Rossi 32, Takuma Sato 25, Ryan Hunter-Reay 19, Scott Dixon 11, Max Chilton 10, Josef Newgarden 8 and Felix Rosenqvist 3).
  • Pato O’Ward won both Indy Lights races at Portland in 2018, on his way to the series championship…Graham Rahal scored the first win of his professional racing career at Portland, winning the Star Mazda (now Indy Pro 2000 championship) race in 2005. James Hinchcliffe claimed his first Atlantics Championship win in Portland in 2006.
  • Four rookies – Romain Grosjean, Callum Ilott, Jimmie Johnson and Scott McLaughlin – are expected to compete. Ilott will be making his NTT INDYCAR SERIES debut. The four rookies, along with veteran drivers Oliver AskewMarcus EricssonDalton KellettPato O’WardAlex Palou and Rinus VeeKay, will all be making their first INDYCAR SERIES at Portland International Raceway.

 

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