Team Penske capitalized on what was a wild and eventful day at Portland International Raceway. Will Power returned to victory lane for the second time in the last three races, and teammate Josef Newgarden extended his lead in the championship standings heading into the final race weekend of the 2019 season. Power led 52 of the 105 laps on Sunday, collecting his 37th career win which ties him with Sebastien Bourdais for sixth all-time.
Felix Rosenqvist matched his career-best finish from earlier this year at Mid-Ohio, with another runner-up finish. Alexander Rossi scored his 7th podium finish of the season and moved back into second place in the standings, now 41 points behind Newgarden. Pole sitter Colton Herta had a solid afternoon, leading 36 laps and finishing 4th, while Newgarden rounded out the top five after starting the race in 13th position.
Grand Prix of Portland Box Score
Spencer Pigot had a great race, climbing up from the 10th starting position to finish in 6th place for Ed Carpenter Racing. Simon Pagenaud went from 18th to 7th but still lost a few points in the championship. He is now 3rd in the standings, just one point behind Rossi. Matheus Leist had his second-best result of the season, finishing in 8th place for the struggling AJ Foyt Racing team. Bourdais’ streak of five consecutive podium finishes at Portland came to an end, but he did lead a few laps and finished 9th. Charlie Kimball rounded out the top ten on Sunday.
This was another race that featured an opening-lap crash, triggered by poor judgment. Graham Rahal made a mistake entering the first turn, and got into Zach Veach. That sent him into the middle of the field, taking out several cars. Arrow SPM teammates James Hinchcliffe and Conor Daly were both taken out, and that wasn’t the end of their bad fortune. On the following restart, Ryan Hunter-Reay took out Jack Harvey in the same turn as he was late on the brakes entering the corner. Both Rahal and Hunter-Reay were apologetic after the race and took full responsibility for their errors.
Early in the race, it looked as though Scott Dixon was going to get back into championship contention. The Kiwi took the lead from Herta and began to check-out on the rest of the field before a battery failure tripped him up on Lap 52. The Ganassi team was able to get him back out on track but he was only able to recover for a 16th place finish.
Dixon is still mathematically able to win the championship because of the double-points paying race at Laguna Seca, but as he sits 85 points back, he will need a near miracle to win his sixth title.
The stage is set, but there will be an extended wait. The final race of the 2019 season is three weeks away, as the series makes its return to Laguna Seca for the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey on September 22. NBC will provide coverage for the event, which begins at 2:30 PM ET on Sunday.
Photos courtesy of IndyCar
WILL POWER: “It was a pretty tough race for the Verizon Chevy. (Felix) Rosenqvist caused some pressure. At the end, we could slowly pull away and I felt like ‘Oh yeah, this is going to be good,” and then we got that yellow flag and I’m like ‘Oh, come on, man!’ But I was determined to get a good restart and just so stoked to get into Victory Lane. It helps the teams and the other guys take some points away. Awesome. I’m exhausted. I’m mentally exhausted. We’ve had plenty of what-if years. We will just race right now how we will race next year. It is so good to go into next year with a couple of wins.”
FELIX ROSENQVIST: “I thought it was a great race for us in the NTT DATA Honda. I think we were stronger than Chevy on fuel mileage. The team really did a nice job. We had really good pace on the red tires, but Will Power and Penske did a little bit better on black tires. We moved up from P5 to P2 and it’s a strong result. We still have another chance to win at Laguna and that’s what I’ll be focused on in a few weeks.”
ALEXANDER ROSSI: “It is not that I wanted more, I just wanted less for (Josef Newgarden). The No. 27 NAPA Andretti Honda boys did a good job. We maximized what we had. I don’t think we had a race-winning car today, unfortunately. Starting in seventh and finishing on the podium is a good day. We finished in front of our championship rival. It will be pretty intense in California, but I am looking forward to it.”
COLTON HERTA: “The Grand Prix of Portland was an up-and-down day for the No. 88 Capstone Turbine Honda team. I had a blast leading 37 laps of the race today and our pace was really quick. The car was great and our strategy was there, but our pace on the red tires during the first stint of the race just wasn’t there. I really feel we could have won the race, but I’m overall happy with fourth as it’s our second-best finish of the year. Looking forward to racing a Laguna Seca in a couple weeks!”
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: “Where we finished is about what we could hope for on a 13th place start. We got kind of in the mess at the start. That is the risky part when you qualify 13th. You can end up in the mess like we did at the beginning. Fortunately, we didn’t hit anything. We kept going and that was the most important part of the day. Then we just worked on making the most of the rest of the day. Climbing into the top five was what we had from where we started, as I said. It was a good day for the guys. The Hitachi car was quick at the end. We weren’t too quick at the start, but towards the end it got better and it helped us get positions we needed. Chevy did a great job as always. Can’t be disappointed with fifth. Overall a solid day to head to the finale.
SPENCER PIGOT: “It turned out to be not too bad of a race. After getting hit in the first corner, I did not think we would have much of a chance after that. We definitely had damage to the car, but it handled alright. We were able to have some good pit stops, good strategy and ultimately good pace. We got through the field and worked our way up to sixth, which is not bad considering where we were after the first lap. It makes you think ‘What could have been?’ but hopefully we can have another strong race at Laguna Seca.”
SIMON PAGENAUD: “(Scott) Dixon has done it from 45 points back, so we’re in it. It’s awesome to go to Laguna with a chance at the championship. I’m determined. We had a really good race today despite all the problems at the start. It was eventful, but a great day for Chevy and Team Penske. It’s the championship so you have to be there. So even when days are tough… rebounding from 18th to finish seventh was a really good performance. We made all right decisions in the race. The Menards Chevy felt really good, which is good for next year when we come back. But the biggest thing is that we are in it. We’re going to Laguna at a chance at the championship, which is really exciting. Anything can happen there with double points. Anything is possible.”
MATHEUS LEIST: “Tough but pretty good race for us here at Portland. Since the beginning we decided to do a different strategy (from the No. 14 car) and we went for a two-stop strategy and I think it worked pretty well for us. We had to save fuel for most of the race and we were consistently running in the top 10. On the last yellow as we were the last car on the lead lap, we decided to come in and put new alternate tires on and went out 10th and finished eighth. So I think it was a decent job, another top 10 for me and a good job for the team, too. The guys did a pretty good strategy and a pretty good job in the pits, so I’m proud of everybody. Let’s go for the last one.”
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: “The No. 18 SealMaster Honda was really competitive and we had the fastest lap of the race. I was really happy with it… We fought hard, passed a bunch of guys and put ourselves back in contention to finish sixth. Then we had some drama with the fueling. A valve didn’t operate like it was supposed to and it took what felt like an eternity to fill the car, so we lost all the positions we had made on track. I made a couple of them back and got to eighth, but at the end (Matheus) Leist pitted for new tires and I had pushed so hard to get to Simon (Pagenaud), I had nothing left on my tires and I lost a position during the final restart.”
CHARLIE KIMBALL: “First and foremost, I can’t say enough about this Carlin team. They worked so hard all weekend to give us the opportunity to go and race for a top-10 finish with the No. 23 Carlin Chevrolet. I just had to take care of business in the cockpit and hit the fuel numbers they were giving me over the radio. Obviously, we were able to miss a lot of the chaos and carnage that happened at the start of the race, which was nice and we just had really great pit stops and a great car. Week in and week out this team just puts in such a big effort and I can’t thank them enough. I’m really looking forward to carrying this momentum into the season finale at Laguna Seca and hopefully ending the season on a high note.”
MARCO ANDRETTI: “We just didn’t have the pace for the top six, but we were comfortably in a top-seven position. We got held up a little in the pits on our last stop which allowed (Simon) Pagenaud to have a go on me on cold tires, then he drove me off track. I wasn’t just going to let him go by, I had to put up a fight for my position. What should have been seventh or eighth for the Oberto team ended up as 13th.”
MAX CHILTON: “Not a bad day for the No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet and the Gallagher crew. Thankfully, we stayed out of the mess at the beginning of the race and we were able to make up quite a bit of positions by avoiding any damage. After that, we really just needed to stick to our strategy and keep as consistent as we could. The car was strong and the guys did a great job in pit lane getting me in and out quickly. Obviously, I would’ve liked to have come away with a top-10 finish today and we were definitely knocking on the door of it, but I’d say we can be proud of the progress we made throughout the race weekend.”
CONOR DALY: “Overall, we have to focus on the positives from this weekend. Great qualifying – all the team cars were in the top 10. It was a true pleasure working with this team again. Great people, great partner in Arrow Electronics. Sometimes we can’t control some of the factors in these races and sadly (teammate) James (Hinchcliffe) and I got caught up in someone else’s mistake. Our cars were quick, we were on for a good race and it is a shame, but definitely thankful for this chance.”
SCOTT DIXON: “Obviously, not the result that we wanted with the PNC Bank car. We had a great car and it was clean sailing out front for us in the lead. The team did a great job. We just lost power and when that happens you can’t shift and you can’t use the clutch. Luckily, we were able to get to pit lane so the crew could get us to the pit box. I just hate giving away an easy win like that. Congrats to (teammate) Felix (Rosenqvist) on the result and finishing second. I think that’s the second time he’s done that in just the past few races, so good job there. The last two races haven’t been the best in terms of luck for us, but we’ll just focus now on winning at Laguna Seca.”
SANTINO FERRUCCI: “The day started pretty well as we were able to avoid a massive pile up in Turn 1 at the start. After that, we decided to try a different strategy but it didn’t quite pan out for us and near the end of the race. We had an electrical issue that put an early end to our race. It’s unfortunate because we were on our way to another top-10 finish and that puts us in a hard place going into Laguna for the rookie championship. We’ll bounce back and do our best at the season finale in a few weeks.”
JACK HARVEY: “My day was unfortunately cut pretty short. I had a great start and was able to get into P3 on the exit of Turn 2, and then on the restart I lost a place to Will Power who was on (Firestone) reds and I was on blacks. I knew that I was far enough away from Ryan (Hunter-Reay) that I actually deactivated push to pass because I was so clear into the corner. The No. 60 AutoNation / SiriusXM Honda showed great pace all weekend and we have made some real good gains this year. I am proud of everyone this weekend. It’s just disappointing that we weren’t able to get the result today that we deserved.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: “I had an OK start, was nice and clear into Turn 1, and then just got broadsided. I guess Graham (Rahal) got into the back of Zach (Veach)… I watched the replay and Graham’s right-side tires are on the white line. If no other cars were there, he wouldn’t physically get through Turn 1. I don’t know what he was thinking. This is frustrating. Third race in a row we’ve been hit on Lap 1. I was joking with the guys – I think we should actually paint a target on our car so maybe we don’t get hit. It’s unfortunate. We just can’t catch a break. Conor (Daly) did an incredible job jumping in this weekend and putting the Arrow car into the top 10, and I think we had more pace than we were able to show in qualifying, so we were really excited for the race. I think we were going to be able to move up and be competitive. We’ll never know.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: “I feel terrible for the team. I was racing (Alexander) Rossi and got caught up in the fight, then broke too deep. I missed it by a good half a marker in the braking and got into Jack Harvey – feel bad for them. Apologies to the team, to DHL, AutoNation and our partners. We should have had a pretty good day today. This is one on me.”
ED JONES: “We did a good job avoiding the on-track incidents today to help us gain many positions over where we started. We made good progress throughout the weekend, though we didn’t get the car quite to an optimal place for the race. I’m hoping to have a better outing at the season finale!”
TONY KANAAN: “Good start, awesome start actually. It’s a shame on the strategy, we missed the boat on that and I have no control over that so after that I just hung in there. Good job for the team though, two cars in the top 12. That was always the goal so it looks like we’re getting stronger towards the end of the season, which is good. I’m happy for Matt (Leist), he drove a great race. They got the strategy right and it put him in the top eight. Let’s move to Laguna and see what we can do.”
GRAHAM RAHAL: “I messed up. I misjudged it bad and took it on the chin. To be honest, I lost my depth there a little bit in the pack. Obviously, I misjudged it by not just a little, but by quite a lot. I’m disappointed, not just for myself but also for the guys we affected. It hurt (teammate) Takuma (Sato) as well. At the start, the pace was fine and all that, but I screwed up. I’m sorry for One Cure and everyone else.”
TAKUMA SATO: “All I could see was just a mess in front of me (on the start). I tried to avoid everything, but somebody’s car went outside and straight into the escape road so I couldn’t turn hard left. All I could do was just go straight, and unfortunately a car went inside coming toward me, which I couldn’t avoid, so we had a damaged sidepod, aero and toe link. So, we had to repair it and I ended up two laps down. We tried everything we could, but we gained a few positions as some retired but it was a tough day for us.”
ZACH VEACH: “A frustrating day. The start was a bit messy, kind of had that stop and go thing. We got off to a good start and I passed a few cars on the inside going into (Turn) 1, then I just got hit with a rocket launcher from behind. We were going to stop and make the corner well enough, then I gained another 40 mph from someone hitting me. I hated it for the guys involved. Once I got hit, I was basically a missile into the mess of the pack.”