Grand Prix of Portland NTT IndyCar Series

Sato holds off Hunter-Reay to win in successful IndyCar return to Portland

Story Credit: Jared DePouw
Photo Credit: Jared DePouw

What an incredible return of the Verizon IndyCar Series to Portland International Raceway. The race began with what could be the scariest slow speed multicar crash of the year when Zach Veach and James Hinchcliffe would get together exiting Turn 3. With Hinchcliffe spinning off in the dirt other cars would be collected, with Marco Andretti flipping over the top of Hinchcliffe’s car and landing upside down in the dirt. Also involved in the incident were Ed Jones, Graham Rahal, and championship leader Scott Dixon. Both Dixon and Hinchliffe would drive away from the scene, but it would be the end of the day for Jones, Rahal, and Hinchcliffe.

The ensuing restart would see gearbox issues for polesitter Will Power, whose car wouldn’t work in first gear. That allowed Alexander Rossi to get by Power on Lap 8 to take the lead. Rossi would lead through the first round of pit stops and a full course caution on Lap 43 after Power ran wide in Turn 11 and made contact with the tire barrier. During that first round of pit stops Dixon would incur a drive-thru penalty for speeding at pit-out.

After the restart on Lap 46, Rossi would lose the lead to defending series champion Josef Newgarden on Lap 48 after a great pass by Newgarden. However, Newgarden’s lead wouldn’t last long after a full course caution on Lap 56 when Veach lost control in Turn 11 and stalled his car. As predicted in my race preview, Turn 11 would prove to be a difficult corner for drivers with both Power and Veach having issues in that corner.

During the ensuing caution period, all the leaders except Ryan Hunter-Reay would pit giving him the lead until Lap 71 when Hunter-Reay would pit and give the lead to Takuma Sato. Sato’s lead wouldn’t last long as the final full course caution would happen on Lap 73 when Santino Ferrucci would run out of gas and require a tow into pit lane. With many of the leaders pitting, Max Chilton would take over the lead under caution until he had to pit on Lap 85.

From that point Sato would take the lead back and hold off Hunter-Reay for his third career win in the Verizon IndyCar Series, adding to wins at Long Beach (2013) and the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 (2017).

Despite being involved in the opening lap incident and getting a drive-thru penalty, championship leader Dixon would manage to finish in 5th place, while Rossi would finish in 8th place. Now with one race remaining at Sonoma in two weeks, Dixon now leads Rossi by 29 points.

UNOFFICIAL VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES POINT STANDINGS
1. Scott Dixon        598
2. Alexander Rossi    569
3. Will Power        511
4. Josef Newgarden    511
5. Ryan Hunter-Reay    462
6. Simon Pagenaud    428
7. Robert Wickens (R)    391
8. Graham Rahal        378
9. Sebastien Bourdais    369
10. James Hinchcliffe    361

Jared DePouw
Jared is the founder of RealOpenWheel.com but works as a small business accountant. He also officiates high school football and lacrosse in his free time.

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