By: Spencer Neff
September 1, 2019 | 11:35 AM
Welcome to the month of September, race fans. To close out the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season, there will be two more races left. Today, Portland International Raceway hosts the penultimate 16th round of the championship.
Before the 105-lap race on the 1.964-mile, 12-turn road course in Oregon, here’s the latest on-track headlines from this weekend.
Session Recaps and Drivers to Watch
Although not in the mix for the season title, rookie Colton Herta has been the driver to beat this weekend at PIR. After setting the weekend’s fastest lap in Friday’s opening practice, Herta led final practice and earned his second career pole yesterday.
Of the drivers in this year’s rookie class, Herta is the only driver to win a race this season (Circuit of The Americas on March 24). However, a turbulent season has him in third, 44 points behind Santino Ferrucci in Rookie of the Year standings.
With a win, Herta would join Alex Zanardi (1996) as rookie winners at PIR. Additionally, he would become the first rookie to win multiple races since Robert Doornbos did so during the 2007 ChampCar season.
Although the weekend has belonged primarily to Honda drivers like Herta, Chevrolet will look to close out 2019 strong. On the front row, last year’s pole winner Will Power looks to finish off a frustrating season on a positive note.
With PIR not on the schedule from 2008 to 2017, only a handful of drivers had prior experience at this track before its 2018 return.
Chief among them is Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan’s Sebastien Bourdais. On Friday, Bourdais led the second practice despite making contact with the Turn 12 barrier. Today, the 2007 race winner starts 10th.
Further back on the grid are two other big names, points leader Josef Newgarden starts 13th.
Headed into this race, Newgarden holds a 38-point lead over teammate Simon Pagenaud. With double points available for the September 22 finale at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, the standings will be worth monitoring.
Meanwhile. defending Portland winner Takuma Sato also looks to make it two in a row following his World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway win last Saturday night.
If he were to win from 17th, Sato would be the fifth driver to win consecutive races at Portland. In 1999 and 2000, Gil de Ferran was the last to do so at this track.
Race Day Info
This afternoon’s Grand Prix of Portland race broadcast will begin with pre-race coverage at 3:00 PM Eastern on NBC. During the. pre-race show, the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series Schedule will be announced. At 3:35, the command to start engines will be given, The expected green flag time is at 3:42 PM Eastern.
Timing and scoring, as well as commentary from the IndyCar Radio Network, can be found by visiting RaceControl.IndyCar.com. Radio coverage can also be found on Sirius 98 and XM 205.
Additionally, look for information on tire strategies courtesy of Firestone here. Starting tire choices are listed in the starting line-up linked above.
During today’s on-track action, join us on Twitter as well. We will be online during the day with insight on all the latest developments.
Header image by Stephen King/INDYCAR