By: Spencer Neff
September 1, 2019 | 5:30 PM
After a frustrating start to the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season, things have come together as of late for Team Penske’s Will Power. On Sunday, he won for the second time in three races at the Grand Prix of Portland.
This time, the 2014 Series Champion won at Portland International Raceway for the first time in four starts on the 1.964-mile, 12-turn road course in Oregon. Today, he started second led the final 52 laps en route to a gratifying victory.
For Team Penske, it is their sixth win at PIR and first since Gil de Ferran won in 2000.
With the win, Power ties Sebastien Bourdais for sixth all-time with 37 career victories. For the second time in four races, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist ran second, this time falling 2.7885 seconds short of victory.
In third, Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi vaulted back to second in the points standings.
After starting on the pole being quickest in the field for much of the weekend, Harding Steinbrenner Racing’s Colton Herta finished fourth. Rounding out the Top Five, Power’s teammate Josef Newgarden extended his points lead to 41 with one race left.
Yesterday, Newgarden qualified a frustrating 13th. However, a yellow-filled opening stanza set the stage for a rebound by the championship leader.
Lap 1 Issues
As has become all too common at PIR, the start was marred by Turn 1 contact.
While trying to make an aggressive move under braking, Graham Rahal collided with Zach Veach before getting tangled up with Conor Daly. From there, Veach and James Hinchcliffe also received damage. Unfortunately, the day ended for all four drivers.
Although Spencer Pigot was contacted, the Ed Carpenter Racing driver continued on. After a half-spin due to contact with Max Chiltonduring the pileup, Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud would continue.
For last week and last year’s winner Takuma Sato, he was forced to pit with toe link damage, among other issues.
After a 12-lap caution, the race restarted as Herta continued to hold the lead.
A lap later, the Turn 1 mayhem continued. While defending against teammate Rossi, Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay spun and took out Meyer Shank Racing’s Jack Harvey with him. Upon returning to the track, Hunter-Reay was given a 30-second hold for avoidable contact.
Differing Strategies Play Out
During the ensuing Lap 18 restart, Herta saw an immediate challenge for the lead from Dixon but kept the top spot.
20 laps later, Dixon took advantage of Herta’s fading tires and took the lead. While fighting to keep his car under control, Herta dropped to fifth before his Lap 40 stop. After taking an alternate strategy, Bourdais was able to stay out front for two extra laps.
More Issues for Dixon
On Lap 52, Dixon’s bad luck continued. After being pushed to his pit stall, the five-time champion fell back to 17th after the battery went out on his Chip Ganassi Racing entry.
With Dixon falling by the wayside, Power was able to take control of the race.
Power Dominates Before Untimely Yellow
Over the ensuing 46 laps, Power dominated. During that time, the race stayed green and the 2018 pole sitter built a lead of nearly seven seconds. With eight laps to go, that was wiped away.
On the front straightaway, Dale Coyne Racing’s Santino Ferrucci stalled. With the Rookie of the Year leader unable to refire, the yellow flag was displayed for the third time.
Late Restart Cements Victory
With four laps to go, the stage was set for a late-race duel. As Power got away from Rosenqvist on the restart, that was dashed. In the end, Power drove away from the field and into Victory Lane. Today, the average speed of the race was 104.225 mph, slowed by three cautions spanning 21 laps.
Although he is not mathematically eligible for the championship, he will look to end the season with three wins in the final four races in three weeks.
After two weeks off, the NTT IndyCar Series will close out its 17-race season on September 22. For the first time since 2004, WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca returns to the calendar to host the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey.
For the 2.238-mile, 11-turn road course in Salinas, California, it will be their 23rd race and first time hosting the season finale in 23 years. Previously, Laguna Seca hosted the season finale from 1989 to 1996.
On Friday, September 20, Practice 1 will begin at 1:30 pm Eastern Time on NBC Sports Gold, with Practice 2 on at 5:10 PM. A day later, Final Practice will be run at 1:00 pm. To set the grid, three rounds of “knock-out” style qualifying will begin at 4:30 pm on NBCSN.
For the 17th and final race of the year, NBC will begin pre-race coverage at 2:30 pm on Sunday, September 22nd. The green flag for the 90-lap Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey will fly at 3:10 for the race.
As always, stay with Open-Wheels and our platforms for all the latest on the NTT IndyCar Series. Enjoy the off weekends, everyone.
Header Image By Chris Owens/INDYCAR