Race Set-Up: Grand Prix of Portland

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Scott Dixon

For the first time since 2007, Indy cars will roam the historic Portland International Raceway when the Grand Prix of Portland goes green this weekend.  The much-anticipated return to the Pacific Northwest is paired with a thrilling championship battle that has intensified with each passing race.

Four-time title winner, Scott Dixon, leads the championship by a scant 26 points over Alexander Rossi, the series’ face of the future looking for his first major driving championship.  Australia’s Will Power, a three-time race winner in 2018, remains within earshot of the championship with 68 points to make up in the final two rounds.

Even Josef Newgarden – 78 points back – is a threat for his second consecutive championship when you consider the double points season finale on deck at Sonoma in two weeks time.

In Portland race history an interesting trend can be found: 10 times has a Portland race winner gone on to win a major open-wheel (CART/Champ Car) championship.  The most recent example comes from the last time Indy cars raced at PIR, when in 2007 it was Sebastien Bourdais taking victory and his fourth consecutive Champ Car title.

Scott Dixon is the only championship-eligible driver with multiple starts at Portland, finishing 7th in both 2002 and 2003.  The Kiwi understands the opportunity for separation on hand here in Portland this weekend.

“We have two races to go now and the points battle is tight, which is what you’ve come to expect in the Verizon IndyCar Series,” said Dixon earlier this week.  “I enjoy racing everybody in the field, and it’s always tough when it comes down to the wire. Everybody at this level is extremely competitive, and you do everything you can to try and get a race win. It’s no different week in, week out.

“It’s been quite a while, but I’m looking forward to Portland this weekend. The goal is to get the PNC Bank car up front and win. You still need as many points as possible with Sonoma being double points. Anything can happen in this series, and it usually does.”

For Rossi, he was much more contrite without a race at Portland under his belt.

“I can’t wait to get to Portland this weekend,” the Andretti Autosport driver said.  “Going to a new venue is incredibly exciting and shows the growth of the Verizon IndyCar Series. We have two to go and we are looking for a win for the NAPA team.”

The Grand Prix of Portland will go green on Sunday, September 2 at approximately 3:00 PM ET, live on NBCSN and the IndyCar Radio Network.

Grand Prix of Portland Fast Facts

Race weekend: Friday, Aug. 31 – Sunday, Sept. 2

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

Entry List: Grand Prix of Portland (PDF)

Race distance: 105 laps / 206.22 miles

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

Firestone tire allotment: Seven sets primary, four sets alternate. Teams must use one set of primary and one new set of alternate tires in the race.

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

Event website: www.portlandgp.com

INDYCAR website: www.IndyCar.com

Most recent race winner (2007): Sebastien Bourdais (No. 1 McDonald’s Racing Team Panoz DP01/Cosworth)

Most recent pole winner (2007): Justin Wilson (No. 9 CDW R Sports Panoz DP01/Cosworth), 58.000 seconds, 121.903 mph

Qualifying record: Justin Wilson 57.597 seconds, 122.756 mph, June 18, 2005

NBCSN television broadcasts: Qualifying, 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday, Sept. 1 (same-day delay); Race, 2:30 p.m. ET Sunday, Sept. 2 (live). Leigh Diffey is the lead announcer alongside analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy. Pit reporters are Jon Beekhuis, Katie Hargitt, Kevin Lee and Robin Miller.

Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts: Mark Jaynes is the chief announcer alongside analyst Anders Krohn. Jake Query and Nick Yeoman are the turn announcers with Dave Furst, Rob Howden and Dan Rusanowsky reporting from the pits. The Grand Prix of Portland race airs live on network affiliates, Sirius 98, XM 209, IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app. All Verizon IndyCar Series practices and qualifying are available on IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app, with qualifying also airing on Sirius 121 and XM 209.

Video streaming: All practice sessions and qualifying for the Grand Prix of Portland will stream live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com and on the INDYCAR YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/indycar).

At-track schedule (all times local):

Thursday, Aug. 30 (Verizon IndyCar Series open test)

10:15 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. – Open test session #1 (no streaming)
3:25 – 5:55 p.m. – Open test session #2 (no streaming)

Friday, Aug. 31

10:45 – 11:30 a.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #1, RaceControl.IndyCar.com (Live)
2:35 – 3:35 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #2, RaceControl.IndyCar.com (Live)
3:40 – 4 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series pit stop practice, RaceControl.IndyCar.com (Live)

Saturday, Sept. 1

11:10 – 11:55 a.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #3, RaceControl.IndyCar.com (Live)
3:20 p.m. – Qualifying for the Verizon P1 Award (three rounds of knockout qualifying), NBCSN (7:30 p.m. ET, same-day delay)

Sunday, Sept. 2

11:30 a.m. – Driver introductions
12:02 p.m. – Command to start engines
12:09 p.m. – Grand Prix of Portland (105 laps/206.22 miles), NBCSN (live)

Championship facts:

  • Scott Dixon leads the Verizon IndyCar Series championship with two races to go for the second time in his career. He also led the championship with two to go when he won the title in 2008. Dixon has led the championship since his win at Texas Motor Speedway on June 9.
  • Scott Dixon leads Alexander Rossi by 26 points with Will Power (-68) and Josef Newgarden (-78) just behind. With 54 maximum points available at Portland, the points lead could change for the eighth time in 2018.
  • There are five drivers still mathematically eligible for the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series championship: Scott Dixon, Alexander Rossi, Will Power, Josef Newgarden and Ryan Hunter-Reay. Any driver who trails the points leader by 105 points or more following the race will be eliminated from contention.
  • The Portland race winner has gone on to win the Indy car championship 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) and Sebastien Bourdais (2004 and 2007).

Key championship point statistic: Since 2008, the driver who has led the championship with two races to go has failed to win the championship five times. Scott Dixon in 2008, Dario Franchitti in 2011, Will Power in 2014, Simon Pagenaud in 2016 and Josef Newgarden in 2017 are the exceptions who have won the title after leading with two races remaining.

Point differential: The 26 points which separate Scott Dixon and Alexander Rossi is the fifth-largest margin with two races remaining since 2010. Ryan Hunter-Reay, who trailed Will Power by 36 points with two races remaining in 2012, and Dixon, who was 34 points behind Juan Pablo Montoya in 2015, have overcome a larger deficit to win the championship. Dario Franchitti overcame a 25-point deficit to Ryan Briscoe in 2009. The average deficit with two races to go since 2007 is 23.54 points.

Championship-eligible drivers’ results at Portland: Three of the five championship-eligible drivers have raced an Indy car at Portland International Raceway at least once – Scott Dixon, Will Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay…Power has the best finish among the contenders, finishing fourth in 2007, while Dixon finished seventh in 2002 and 2003. Hunter-Reay’s best finish in three starts is 12th.

Image by Joe Skibinski/INDYCAR.

Tanner Watkins

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