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Sonoma practice finds championship contenders bunched together & ‘What They’re Saying’ from INDYCAR Grand Prix of Sonoma practice

SONOMA, California (Friday, Sept. 14, 2018) – Practice day at the INDYCAR Grand Prix of Sonoma did little to suggest a favorite among the four remaining contenders for the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. After two practices Friday in preparation for the season finale at Sonoma Raceway, points leader Scott Dixon was third on the…

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Circuit of the Americas joins 17-race schedule for 2019

INDIANAPOLIS (Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018) – INDYCAR released its 2019 schedule today featuring 17 events, a newly announced race and a new event finale. All the action will be showcased in INDYCAR’s first full season with NBC Sports Group.

Circuit of the Americas (COTA), the permanent road course in Austin, Texas, will make its debut on the IndyCar Series schedule on Sunday, March 24. It will be the second race of the 2019 season.

“COTA is one of the finest motorsports facilities in the world and Austin is a happening city. This a natural fit for the IndyCar Series,” said Mark Miles, president and CEO of Hulman & Co., which owns INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “Indy car racing has a large and passionate fan base in Texas with a hunger to attend more races. This added date will allow us to deliver both oval and road course events to the state in a single season.”

INDYCAR recently announced a four-year agreement with Texas Motor Speedway, which has hosted 30 Indy car races since 1997. The 2019 race on the Fort Worth superspeedway will be Saturday, June 8 under the lights.

Circuit of the Americas founder and chairman Bobby Epstein said the track’s fan base has been excited to see INDYCAR race at COTA “from Year 1.” The permanent road course opened in 2011. At more than 3 miles, COTA will be the second-longest circuit on the 2019 INDYCAR schedule, behind only Road America (4.048 miles).

“It’s going to be spectacular,” Epstein said. “Our entire team at COTA is excited to welcome the teams, drivers and visitors to our great city, and we know Austin will give them a warm welcome.”

For the ninth consecutive year, the IndyCar Series season will kick off in St. Petersburg, Florida, on Sunday, March 10. The 1.8-mile temporary street circuit in the Gulf Coast city includes a runway of Albert Whitted Airport. St. Petersburg first hosted Indy cars in 2003 and has continuously since 2005, providing the perfect warm-weather backdrop to usher in the new season.

INDYCAR’s 2019 season concludes Sunday, Sept. 22 with the championship race at the legendary WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, which has hosted 22 previous Indy car races, the most recent in 2004. The permanent road course near Monterey, California, was last the site for an Indy car season finale in 1996.

The centerpiece of the 2019 schedule again includes two races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where the INDYCAR Grand Prix will be held for the sixth time on the road course, on Saturday, May 11. The 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 on the historic 2.5-mile oval will take place Sunday, May 26.

A focal point for INDYCAR has been maintaining date equity with racetracks. The 2019 IndyCar Series schedule accomplishes that with a pair of minor exceptions for good reason:

  • Barber Motorsports Park’s event shifts two weeks forward to Sunday, April 7. That early April date was the slot that the scenic permanent road course in Birmingham, Alabama, held on the schedule for the first four years of its nine-year run to date;
  • Iowa Speedway returns to a night race at the overwhelming request of fans on Saturday, July 20. It moves back on the calendar by two weeks. Next year’s IndyCar Series race will be the 13th on the bullring oval in Newton, Iowa.

Proof of INDYCAR’s track diversity lies in the 2019 schedule that features races on seven permanent road courses, five temporary street circuits and five ovals. Other schedule highlights include:

  • The Grand Prix of Long Beach returning for the 36th consecutive year (Sunday, April 14). Outside of the Indianapolis 500, the event on the iconic Southern California street circuit is the longest running in the sport;
  • Detroit is the site of the season’s only doubleheader race weekend (Saturday-Sunday, June 1-2). It will be the seventh time that two Indy car races will be contested on the same weekend on the temporary street course;
  • The streets of Toronto, another popular staple event, returning to the schedule (Sunday, July 14). The urban street circuit in the cosmopolitan Canadian city has been home to 34 previous Indy car races dating to 1986;
  • Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Illinois, returning for another late-summer race under the lights (Saturday, Aug. 24). Officials at the 1.25-mile oval recently staged a second straight impressive event in the sports-hungry St. Louis market.

“INDYCAR has worked to deliver a consistency and cadence to the schedule and that is reflected again in 2019,” Miles said. “We’ve added races at a pair of tracks that know how to put on fantastic events, while returning to tracks where INDYCAR has longstanding relationships on familiar race dates.

“The diversity of next year’s schedule will continue to make what we believe is the most challenging and competitive championship in motorsports.”

Nearly half of the 2019 races will air on network television as part of a previously announced multiyear media rights deal with NBC Sports Group that will significantly increase INDYCAR exposure. Broadcast times will be confirmed later, but eight races, including the Indianapolis 500, will air on NBC. Nine races will be on NBCSN, with all track activity and additional exclusive content available on NBC Sports Gold, the direct-to-consumer product that will bring subscribers closer to INDYCAR racing than ever before.

The complete 2019 IndyCar Series schedule is as follows:

Date: Track
March 10: Streets of St. Petersburg, Florida
March 24: Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas
April 7: Barber Motorsports Park, Birmingham, Alabama
April 14: Streets of Long Beach, California
May 11: INDYCAR Grand Prix, Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course
May 26: 103rd Indianapolis 500, Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval
June 1: Streets of Detroit, Race 1, Detroit, Michigan
June 2: Streets of Detroit, Race 2, Detroit, Michigan
June 8: Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth, Texas*
June 23: Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
July 14: Streets of Toronto, Canada
July 20: Iowa Speedway, Newton, Iowa*
July 28: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Lexington, Ohio
Aug. 18: Pocono Raceway, Long Pond, Pennsylvania
Aug. 24: Gateway Motorsports Park, Madison, Illinois*
Sept. 1: Portland International Raceway, Portland, Oregon
Sept. 22: WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, Salinas, California
(*-night race)
(Schedule subject to change)

As Sato wins at Portland, Dixon recovers to retain points lead

Takuma Sato went to victory lane in Sunday’s Grand Prix of Portland, but Scott Dixon felt like a winner, too. Alexander Rossi had mixed feelings.

Dixon salvaged what could have been a disastrous points day relative to the Verizon IndyCar Series championship by finishing fifth. Rossi had bad luck of a different kind but managed to scramble back to finish eighth, losing just three points to Dixon, the leader in the season standings.

GRAND PRIX OF PORTLAND: Official results

One double-points race remains: the INDYCAR Grand Prix of Sonoma on Sept. 16. Dixon and Rossi are the primary contenders for the championship, separated by 29 points. Team Penske’s Will Power and Josef Newgarden lurk in mathematical contention, with each driver 87 points behind Dixon.

Dixon was among those collected in a first-lap crash in Turn 3, but somehow avoided serious damage to his No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda in the incident precipitated by the spin of James Hinchcliffe after contact with Zach Veach. That led to Marco Andretti’s car flipping over the top of the cars of Hinchcliffe and Ed Jones. No one was injured and Dixon’s car emerged relatively unscathed. Dusty, but unscathed.

After making a pit stop to check for car damage under the full-course caution from the incident, Dixon used a two-stop strategy and fortunate timing with mid-race cautions to get a little more points breathing room for Sonoma. The only thing that went wrong for him was a pit-road speeding penalty on Lap 39, but he overcame the drive-through penalty for that as well.

“It was a huge day for the team, and (it) feels like a win for us,” Dixon said. “The point (separation), whatever it is, is not a huge amount.”

Dixon couldn’t explain how his car wasn’t damaged in the five-car pileup.

“I couldn’t see anything once I got off in the dirt,” he said. “There was just dust everywhere. Then I kept getting hit and hit (by flying debris) and I thought, ‘Oh, this isn’t going to be good.’ Luckily, we were able to keep the PNC Bank car running, back up from the incident and continue.

“What a crazy day.”

Dixon’s clearest path to a fifth Verizon IndyCar Series championship is to finish first or second at Sonoma Raceway, where the winner earns 100 points and second place pays 80.

Rossi, who went with the expected three-stop fuel strategy Sunday, led a race-high 32 laps in the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda but ended up on the wrong side of the caution flags.

“It’s one of those days; we had a fast car,” Rossi said. “Our tire strategy was going to plan and everything was good until the yellow came on Lap 56 (when Andretti Autosport teammate Veach spun off course). It hurts a lot and hopefully it’s not something that costs us the championship.

“We just have to rebound and move on from it and know that it’s something that’s out of our control. Now it’s time to refocus and be ready to attack (at) Sonoma.”

The road for a Team Penske driver to win the series championship for a third straight year became more difficult. Power endured a host of trouble in the 105-lap race and finished 21st, while Newgarden settled for 10th place.

Power was the Verizon P1 Award pole winner on Saturday and led the first seven laps before suddenly losing pace due to a gearbox issue in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. His day also included sliding into the Turn 12 tire barrier and a pit-road speeding penalty. Eventually, the gearbox failed.

“Man, it’s a tough sport,” the 2018 Indianapolis 500 winner said.

Sato, in the No. 30 Mi-Jack/Panasonic Honda, held off Ryan Hunter-Reay for his third career victory and first since the 2017 Indianapolis 500. Sato is the eighth different driver to win a Verizon IndyCar Series race this season.

The margin of victory for the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver was 0.6084 of a second over Hunter-Reay, with Sebastien Bourdais third.

“Look at the fans here in Portland, so enthusiastic,” said Sato, who started from the 20th position. “I think this is one of the most beautiful days in my life again.”

Timing of the full-course cautions allowed Sato and others to benefit. With Simon Pagenaud and Charlie Kimball placing sixth and seventh, respectively, three of the top seven finishers started 20th or lower in the 25-car field.

The race marked the return of Indy car racing to the Pacific Northwest for the first time since 2007. The community’s welcome was impressive with a large crowd lining the 12-turn, 1.964-mile permanent road course.

The 2018 season finale, the INDYCAR Grand Prix of Sonoma, airs live at 6:30 p.m. ET Sunday, Sept. 16 on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

Mazda Road to Indy race recap

The Mazda Road to Indy development ladder sanctioned by INDYCAR completed its 2018 in all three levels with doubleheader weekends at Portland. The second race in each series took place Sunday.

  • Patricio O’Ward (Andretti Autosport) capped a dominating Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires season weekend the season by adding Sunday’s race win to the one he secured Saturday. He finished with nine victories for the season and a 44-point margin over teammate Colton Herta (Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing) in the final standings. The start of this race saw a six-wide approach to Turn 1, with pole winner Ryan Norman (Andretti Autosport) absorbing race-ending damage from contact with other cars. Aaron Telitz (Belardi Auto Racing) finished second.
  • David Malukas (BN Racing) won his third race of the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires season. He finished 3.5 seconds ahead of series champion Rinus VeeKay (Juncos Racing).
  • Kyle Kirkwood, who wrapped up the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship a month ago for Cape Motorsports, tied JR Hildebrand’s 12-year-old record for series race wins in a season (12) by completing a Portland sweep. He held off Rasmus Lindh (Pabst Racing) by 1.98 seconds.

‘What They’re Saying’ from Grand Prix of Portland race

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “It was a tough day. I don’t know what else to say. We led some laps and I think we had a Verizon Chevrolet that was good enough to win it. It just didn’t fall our way. You can’t predict these INDYCAR races. I wish we could get Lady Luck on our side one of these days. It just seems to walk away from us as of late. (Scott) Dixon – he was able to take advantage of it today. Those guys are having a great year and luck falls on their side. Now, we will just go and try and win the season finale and do what we can. I don’t think we have much of a shot at the championship. We’ve given it a good effort here at Team Penske and you can’t ask much more out of the team.”

MATHEUS “MATT” LEIST (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Another tough race for the ABC Supply car. Today, the first two stints were pretty good for us. I think we had the pace since the beginning and I think we could have finished in the top 10 for the first time this season, but the yellow came out at the wrong time for us, so we had to change strategy. It kind of screwed us a little bit. I think the most important thing is that we managed to develop and improve our road course car and I’m looking forward to Sonoma now. I think we did a great job here as a team. Each time we are on the track, we are just getting closer to the other teams, getting a little bit faster. We just have to keep working hard and I think our time is going to come sooner than we thought. Good job for Tony (Kanaan), too. I think we still need to find some pace, but we are going to get there eventually.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Electronics SPM Honda): “Obviously a pretty disappointing day after a promising start. It was a kind of classic first lap deal – Zach (Veach) didn’t leave me enough room on the inside of Turn 3 there and we got forced on to a pretty big curb. It kicked the car sideways and I’m obviously sorry for the chain reaction it set off and ruined a lot of guys days. Ultimately that’s racing. That’s not what we want and I’m glad everyone’s OK. Tough break for the crew, the Arrow Electronics car was really good on Saturday and I think we were going to have good pace in the race, but these things happen. We’ll put our heads down, regroup and try to end the season strong in Sonoma.”

CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 6 Lucas Oil SPM Honda): “Great to finish the weekend without any mistakes, bringing home the Lucas Oil car in one piece. I think we deserved to finish a little more in the front. The yellow in the middle of the race when we had blacks (Firestone primary tires) didn’t help us a lot. The restart also didn’t help us… I was on blacks, everyone else was on reds (Firestone alternate tires). During the race, our car was great – we had the fastest lap time of the race. I obviously wanted more, but we’ll see how it goes in Sonoma. Hopefully, we’ll be even better.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “It was a huge day for the team today and feels like a win for us. The points, whatever it is, is not a huge amount. I couldn’t see anything once I got off in the dirt at the start, it was just dust everywhere. Then I kept getting hit and hit and thought, ‘Oh, this isn’t going to be good.’ Luckily, we were able to keep the PNC Bank car running, back up from the incident and continue. What a crazy day.”

ED JONES (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “It looked like (Zach) Veach and (James) Hinchcliffe were side-by-side going into Turn 2 and Veach just turned right into him like he wasn’t there. He didn’t give any room and it caused a huge shunt. I’m OK, but really disappointed for the NTT DATA car. I had someone fly over my head and they maybe even nicked my helmet. I’m just glad Marco Andretti was OK and no one got hurt in all that. We had a strong car yesterday and hoped we could have been up there in the race today.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “I think on the warm-up lap before the green, something happened to the gearbox. It jumped to neutral, I went into emergency mode and made it go into gear and thought, ‘OK, that’s all right.’ Then, coming out of the hairpin on the first restart, it popped into neutral again and everyone behind me went past. Then, I realized I couldn’t use first gear. We were on a reasonable strategy and I made a mistake trying to keep (Matheus) Leist behind me. Then, the gearbox completely went. I’m not sure the gearbox would have made it the whole race, anyway. But man, it’s a tough sport. It’s too bad because it was actually going to be a reasonable day. We were on a path for two stops, but that’s racing. Now, we just go to Sonoma, have fun and win. And hopefully, have a good day, have a good finish to the year.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Some good points today in Portland. Apparently, we had (an air) gun issue during our pit stops that cost us time on the last two stops. I don’t think we had the pace that guys in front of us had, but we managed to make some good passes, save fuel whenever we had to save fuel and almost got a top 10. After starting at the back of the pack, we’ll take it.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Mi-Jack Honda): “I couldn’t see anything in front of me. Obviously, I’m disappointed for One Cure. We were hoping for a strong day. I don’t know what happened in front of us, but it was a cluster. I couldn’t see anything and I had nowhere to go. We made it through Turn 1 and 2 and I thought ‘Hey, clear sailing here’ and then bam. From what I hear, it sounds like (Zach) Veach just put Hinch (James Hinchcliffe) up on the curb, which is pretty unfair. As you can see Dixie (Scott Dixon) doing behind us, you can run two-wide through there no problem. I’m disappointed. A lot of guys were driving aggressively, which is OK, but we’ve got to give each other room.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 Gorilla Automotive Products Honda): “It’s been a roller coaster ride all weekend for the No. 18 Gorilla Automotive Products – Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan team. We qualified really well after recovering from probably one of the biggest hits I have ever had on a road course. Three hours after the crash, the car is back together and I put it there near the top in qualifying. So, I start fourth, get swallowed up in the incident at the start, cycled to the back, then cycle to the front and finish third. These races are never over. I can’t thank my crew enough for what they have done this weekend. Just an amazing effort from the whole team. I am super proud and thanks to Dale (Coyne), Jimmy (Vasser) and Sulli (James Sullivan) for putting all this together.”

PIETRO FITTIPALDI (No. 19 Paysafe Honda): “The race went really well. The car was very fast all throughout the weekend in practice and qualifying, so we knew we had the pace. It’s a tough place to pass here, so coming into the race, we knew it was going to be about strategy and being consistent and trying to get clean air to get track position, and that’s what we did. My whole No. 19 Paysafe Dale Coyne Racing crew did an amazing job on the pit stops and my engineer Mike Cannon did a great job calling the strategy. I’m really happy with the result. I had issues getting up to speed quickly on the restarts because I couldn’t get the brakes hot enough, so unfortunately, I lost some positions there. I also had no more overtake at the end, so I really had to stand my ground and we did that. I’m really happy with today’s result.”

JORDAN KING (No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “The race got off to a really solid start. I was overtaking people, shifting shapes, really cracking on. I had made it all the way up to P3 behind Alexander Rossi and was having good fun racing with him. Then the yellow came out and turned everything around. It was really unlucky timing, as we were heading for a strong result. Fortunately, we’ve got Sonoma in two weeks’ time, so I’m looking forward to getting back in the car.”

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “I’m really happy to end up fourth with the Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet team. The start was kind of crazy. From starting 17th, I found myself up to 8th after Turn 1. That was a welcome surprise. After that, we had a few good stints and were able to pick off a few guys here and there, then the yellows fell in our favor. Right from the get-go, even on blacks (Firestone primary tires), the car felt good. We had a lot of reds (Firestone alternate tires) saved up and were able to put them to good use.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): “I think it was a fantastic recovery from the whole No. 22 Menards Chevrolet team. It was phenomenal, the strategy that we adopted. We got a little bit lucky with some yellows (flags), too, but before the yellows we came to the eighth position from 22nd, so really good job by all my guys. We still have some progress to make on the car, but overall, from a tough qualifying day yesterday, we recovered really well and that’s what racing is about.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet): “This Carlin team just doesn’t have any give up in them – they don’t know the meaning of the words. I’m proud of these guys, they just stayed with it all day. They worked the fuel strategy, gave me the fuel numbers and lap times that I needed and we were able to get it with the car. We made a pretty significant change to the No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet overnight and it really helped our pace throughout the race. I just can’t stress how proud I am of these guys. Yesterday was pretty frustrating and disheartening, but they didn’t let it slow them down today. We had great pit stops and a great strategy, so all I really had to do was drive it into the top 10.”

ZACH VEACH (No. 26 Group 1001 Honda): “It was a really tough race. We made contact on the start as we made our way up to fourth and that damaged our undertray quite a bit. Because of that, we were running around with a few hundred pounds less downforce and that made the car very difficult to drive. We were trying to make up for that damage and just pushed a little too hard and made a mistake and that ended our race putting us a lap down. I’m frustrated in myself – I should’ve been a little more patient in what we had.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda): “It’s one of those days. We had a fast car. The NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda was really quick out front and we were able to build a seven-second gap. Our tire strategy was going to plan and everything was good until the yellow (flag) came on Lap 56. It hurts a lot, and hopefully, it’s not something that costs us the championship. We just have to rebound and move on from it and know that it’s something that’s out of our control. Now, it’s time to refocus and be ready to attack for Sonoma.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “We gave that one away. The DHL car was the car to beat today. We had the right fuel, but we had some miscommunication on pit lane. I was saving fuel as Takuma (Sato) came out of the pit lane and so I didn’t attack. That miscommunication probably cost us the race. I’m pretty bummed right now. I know we had a car to win and all day long. I tried really hard to save that fuel and made the fuel mileage the stand was requesting, but couldn’t pay off for it in the end.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Honda): 
“This is big. Fantastic weekend. Obviously, with the couple of hard, physical weekends, especially at St. Louis (Gateway), we did save fuel and it didn’t work, but you have to keep on going and this time I think the fuel strategy worked really well. Most importantly, the No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic car had pace so I could commit. Looking at the fans here in Portland, so enthusiastic, I think this is one of the most beautiful days in my life again.”

ALFONSO CELIS JR. (No. 32 Juncos Racing Chevrolet): “The main goal was to finish and we completed that today. We had a good strategy going into the race. In the beginning, I battled some issues with my radio, but I was able to fix it. I think I was also pushed out wide a couple of times, so we lost some positions there. Overall, I am happy with finishing on the lead lap. I want to thank the Juncos Racing crew for all of their hard work and my family and friends for being here to support me.”

SANTINO FERRUCCI (No. 39 Cly-Del Honda): 
“The No. 39 Cly-Del Manufacturing car was on rails today. We lost a couple of positions at the start because I had to shortcut the chicane, but we made the positions back on the first stint of red (flag conditions). We had a long stint and had really good pace. On my third stint, we went back out on reds (Firestone alternate tires) and we moved up the field again and were fighting for a spot in the top five. However, that’s when we had a fuel system issue that cost us a possible top-10 finish, if not better. I feel bad for the guys, but they did an amazing job throughout the whole weekend and I can’t ask for more. We’ll come back stronger in Sonoma.”

MAX CHILTON (No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet): “All in all, it was a really enjoyable day. We were racing hard and we were racing good guys. We had a great start at the green flag, great restarts and we led that last restart well. We were able to keep Josef (Newgarden) and (Alexander) Rossi behind us when they didn’t need to be fuel saving, so we had the pace. Strategy went our way at times, but when it really counted, it just went completely against us. We were on for a top-seven finish all day and we weren’t up there just by luck. Unfortunately, with how the strategy worked out and how the yellows fell, it just wasn’t in the cards for us, but that’s racing.”

JACK HARVEY (No. 60 AutoNation SiriusXM MSR with SPM Honda): “The beginning of the race went really well and we cycled out well after that first restart. Unfortunately, after that, we caught every yellow at the wrong moment. This weekend we made so much good progress, it’s a bit disappointing how the race played out. During the first stage of the race, we were legitimately running top six and holding it, but then the end result ends up not showing it. Hopefully, we can take a few days to reset and take the positives from this weekend and bring them to Sonoma.”

GABBY CHAVES (No. 88 Harding Group Chevrolet): “We had a clean race through the start and I managed to pick up a bunch of positions, running inside the top 10 for a good part of the day. We struggled a bit on the black (Firestone primary) tires, so we lost a few positions on track when we were running our stint. We still managed to be in a good contention for a top-10 finish. On the last restart, I had a good run on TK (Tony Kanaan), he just didn’t give me any room and I ended up in the grass while trying to defend the next position. After that, I had to give up that position, as well. We have been improving the car all weekend and all year, so although 13th is not fantastic, it shows progression, which is good.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 98 / Curb Honda): “I’m really lucky that when (I was upside down), nobody else hit me. That would’ve been bad, but it looked like the seas were about to part for me. As soon as I backed off for Hinch’s (James Hinchcliffe) spin, I think Graham (Rahal) got into the back of me – at least that’s what he and I discussed. (Rahal) didn’t see Hinch spin and I did, so when I backed off, he got into me. I almost thought we were going to make it through Portland Turn 1 – which we did. It was Turn 2 that got us, though.”

Grand Prix of Portland Results

PORTLAND, Oregon – Results Sunday of the Grand Prix of Portland Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 1.964-mile Portland International Raceway, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (20) Takuma Sato, Honda, 105, Running
2. (5) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 105, Running
3. (4) Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 105, Running
4. (17) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 105, Running
5. (11) Scott Dixon, Honda, 105, Running
6. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 105, Running
7. (25) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 105, Running
8. (3) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 105, Running
9. (16) Pietro Fittipaldi, Honda, 105, Running
10. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 105, Running
11. (24) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 105, Running
12. (14) Carlos Munoz, Honda, 105, Running
13. (21) Gabby Chaves, Chevrolet, 105, Running
14. (19) Matheus Leist, Chevrolet, 105, Running
15. (12) Jordan King, Chevrolet, 105, Running
16. (13) Jack Harvey, Honda, 105, Running
17. (23) Alfonso Celis Jr, Chevrolet, 105, Running
18. (15) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 105, Running
19. (6) Zach Veach, Honda, 104, Running
20. (18) Santino Ferrucci, Honda, 101, Running
21. (1) Will Power, Chevrolet, 98, Running
22. (7) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 76, Running
23. (10) Graham Rahal, Honda, 4, Contact
24. (8) Ed Jones, Honda, 0, Contact
25. (9) Marco Andretti, Honda, 0, Contact

Race Statistics

Winner’s average speed:
102.971 mph
Time of Race: 2:00:09.7537
Margin of victory: 0.6084 of a second
Cautions: 4 for 18 laps
Lead changes: 9 among 6 drivers

Lap Leaders:

Power, Will 1 – 7
Rossi, Alexander 8 – 27
Hunter-Reay, Ryan 28 – 32
Power, Will 33 – 36
Rossi, Alexander 37 – 48
Newgarden, Josef 49 – 56
Hunter-Reay, Ryan 57 – 70
Sato, Takuma 71 – 74
Chilton, Max 75 – 84
Sato, Takuma 85 – 105

Verizon IndyCar Series point standings: Dixon 598, Rossi 569, Newgarden 511, Power 511, Hunter-Reay 462, Pagenaud 428, Wickens 391, Rahal 378, Bourdais 369, Hinchcliffe 361.

Power passes Foyt for second on all-time poles list; will lead field to green Sunday

Might as well add Portland International Raceway to the list of Indy car tracks where Will Power has dominated qualifying.

Power had qualified seventh in his two previous races at this track – in 2006 and ’07 – and blitzing today’s Verizon IndyCar Series field gave him 25 tracks where he has won a pole.

Power set a new track record in the first round of knockout qualifying of 57.2143 seconds, eclipsing the previous record of 57.597 seconds set by Justin Wilson in 2005. In the Firestone Fast Six, Power posted a lap 0.3410 seconds quicker than his Team Penske teammate Josef Newgarden. This was the third time in the past five qualifying sessions that Power won the Verizon P1 Award with Newgarden second.

If that wasn’t enough, Power cleared A.J. Foyt for second place in career Indy car poles. Power now has 54 career poles, with Foyt at 53. Mario Andretti leads all drivers with 67.

“I need to catch Mario, but I don’t think that will happen,” Power said, laughing. “That’s a lot of poles.”

GRAND PRIX OF PORTLAND: Qualifying results

Power also took another step toward winning his second career series championship. The point for the pole moves him within 67 points of Scott Dixon with two races remaining. Power has a golden opportunity to gain on Dixon in Sunday’s race, as the Chip Ganassi Racing driver qualified 11th.

“At the end of the day we have to win (races),” Power said.

Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi, who trails Dixon by 26 points, has a similar opportunity from the No. 3 starting position. But he, like Power, knows there is a reason the New Zealand driver is a four-time series champion.

“As I’ve always said, (Dixon) can start wherever and he’ll still (finish) in the front,” Rossi said.

That Dixon didn’t qualify well isn’t that much of a surprise. His average starting position this season in qualifying sessions is 8.4 and he has failed to start higher than ninth in the past three qualifying sessions.

Dixon started ninth at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and 13th at Pocono Raceway. But in those two aforementioned races, he finished fifth and third. He would take something of that nature – or better – in the season’s penultimate race.

Sebastien Bourdais bounced back from a crash at the end of the morning’s practice to qualify fourth. He had just turned the session’s fastest lap when he lost control in Turn 10 and slammed into the tire barrier with the rear of the car. The crew of Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan repaired the car in less than three hours.

Bourdais said his crew benefitted from being a three-car entry at this race. Rookie Santino Ferrucci joins Bourdais and Pietro Fittipaldi, another rookie, in this race.

“Without three crews, I don’t think we would have been able to put the car (back) together,” Bourdais said. “It was an incredible effort to recover from my mistake.”

Andretti Autosport put three drivers in the Firestone Fast Six. Ryan Hunter-Reay will start from the fifth position and Zach Veach from sixth (a career best). Veach reached the final qualifying round for the first time this season.

This will be the first Indy car race at the 12-turn, 1.964-mile permanent road course since 2007. Sunday’s race broadcast begins at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

Mazda Road to Indy race recap

The Mazda Road to Indy development ladder sanctioned by INDYCAR has doubleheader weekends scheduled for all three levels at Portland. The first race in each series took place Saturday.

  • Patricio O’Ward capped a dominating Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires season Saturday by winning for the ninth time in 16 races. He held off Andretti Autosport teammate Colton Herta to secure the series title. The season concludes Sunday with a race at 12:55 p.m. ET.
  • Oliver Askew (Cape Motorsports) won the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires race by 1.3482 seconds over series champion Rinus VeeKay (Juncos Racing). Sunday’s race is at 5:15 p.m. ET.
  • Kyle Kirkwood, who wrapped up the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship a month ago for Cape Motorsports, won the 25-lap race. Rasmus Lindh actually led the first lap, but Kirkwood passed him on Lap 2 and led the rest of the way for his 11th victory of the season. A win in Sunday’s 6:20 p.m. ET race would tie Kirkwood with JR Hildebrand (2006) for the series record for most wins in a season.

Grand Prix of Portland qualifying results

PORTLAND, Oregon – Results of qualifying Saturday for the Grand Prix of Portland Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 1.964-mile Portland International Raceway, with qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, engine, time and speed in parentheses:

1. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 57.3467 (123.292 mph)
2. (1) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 57.6877 (122.563)
3. (27) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 57.7361 (122.461)
4. (18) Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 57.8881 (122.139)
5. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 57.9699 (121.967)
6. (26) Zach Veach, Honda, 58.1057 (121.682)
7. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 57.6429 (122.659)
8. (10) Ed Jones, Honda, 57.6499 (122.644)
9. (98) Marco Andretti, Honda, 57.7277 (122.478)
10. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 57.7772 (122.374)
11. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 57.8554 (122.208)
12. (20) Jordan King, Chevrolet, 57.9010 (122.112)
13. (60) Jack Harvey, Honda, 57.9620 (121.983)
14. (6) Carlos Munoz, Honda, 57.6748 (122.591)
15. (59) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 57.9865 (121.932)
16. (19) Pietro Fittipaldi, Honda, 57.7321 (122.469)
17. (21) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 57.9939 (121.916)
18. (39) Santino Ferrucci, Honda, 57.7735 (122.381)
19. (4) Matheus Leist, Chevrolet, 58.0036 (121.896)
20. (30) Takuma Sato, Honda, 57.7848 (122.357)
21. (88) Gabby Chaves, Chevrolet, 58.1635 (121.561)
22. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 58.0983 (121.697)
23. (32) Alfonso Celis Jr, Chevrolet, 58.2735 (121.331)
24. (14) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 58.2531 (121.374)
25. (23) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 58.3219 (121.231)

‘What They’re Saying’ from Grand Prix of Portland qualifying

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “I think for the most part (we got all we could out of the car). I thought we would be top five. I felt like we had that speed, so did Will (Power), for sure. I didn’t know if we would have enough for the pole. I hoped so. We had been there, flirting with that top spot. It was just difficult to read the timesheets with how many yellows (flags) we’ve had, how many checkups we’ve had. I don’t think anyone has posted the best time in practice. We expected to be up there close, at least challenge for it in the Firestone Fast Six. We just had a better car on black (Firestone primary) tires, to be honest with you. Seems like the red (Firestone alternate) tires, we weren’t tuned well enough for. This whole weekend we built ourselves into a box of a better race car. I think our race car is going to be pretty good for tomorrow, but not as strong qualifying on red compound tires. That was our downfall. Missed a tenth or two (seconds) in five, six, seven corners from Will. That’s where he had a little bit of speed on us. But it’s a 1-2 for the team, can’t be disappointed.”

MATHEUS “MATT” LEIST (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Qualifying was difficult. We are just struggling a little bit with the car. We didn’t find a great pace in the setup. We have to keep working hard and try to make the right choices for tomorrow. We’re going to debrief tonight and see what we can do for tomorrow.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Electronics SPM Honda): “Honestly, after what happened this morning and really not getting any laps in Practice 3, I’m really proud of the Arrow Electronics guys. We had a lap that was going to make it into the Firestone Fast Six, but I made a little mistake going into Turn 7 – someone dropped a wheel in front of me and I overcompensated. We haven’t been stellar all weekend, to be honest, but we’re starting seventh and we’re right in the mix there. Proud of these guys, proud of the team and we’ll see what we can do tomorrow.”

CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 6 Lucas Oil SPM Honda): 
“It’s not the best way to be in the Lucas Oil car, for sure. I know this is Robbie’s (Wickens) car and I just wish him a really speedy recovery. Hopefully, he’s back here soon. I’m thankful to Sam (Schmidt, team co-owner), Ric (Peterson, team co-owner) and the whole team. Everyone has welcomed me with super open arms. I’ve been feeling like I’ve been with the team for a long time now, even though I’ve only been with them for two days, so that’s been really nice. Everyone has been working really hard. I’m thankful to be here and I’m feeling good. Qualifying was a close one, just barely missed moving on to the next round. It’s been one year since I’ve been in the (road course) car, so I’m proud of what we did today.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “We were struggling definitely on the blacks (Firestone primary tires) with the car being really loose, and then we knew going to the reds (Firestone alternate tires) that it would flip flop a little bit. The No. 1 car (Josef Newgarden), came out of the pits, so we aborted the first lap and that’s when the tires are best. Then we actually started to catch him again a little bit, but I think he was trying to back up from someone else. It makes you hit it right with the reds and get the max out of it on one or two laps. You’re going to be out to lunch (if you don’t hit it right), and that’s what happened to us in the PNC Bank car today.”

ED JONES (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “Obviously, it was a tough qualifying session. The first group in Round 1, we were fastest with the NTT DATA car, so that was good. I think the way the track played out, we just may have gone the wrong way with the balance. We just didn’t go enough in the right direction with the balance and that hurt. We just got too much understeer in the car in that second session and didn’t have enough to advance.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): (About if his experience at the track played a role in his speed this weekend): “No, I can’t even remember that far back (laughter). I mean, it’s a very different track. A lot of grip, the car is different. But it’s a lot of fun. Really enjoying it out there. I think it’s the most grip we’ve had all year on a track. Cars are really hooked up.” (About passing A.J. Foyt for second on the all-time poles list): “Yeah, I mean, obviously to be up with names like Foyt, pretty special and humbling. I need to catch Mario (Andretti) now. I don’t think that will happen, that’s a lot of poles. But, yeah, unbelievable. I would never have dreamed of being up there with names like A.J. Foyt.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet):
 “It’s been a difficult weekend for us. We’ve tried absolutely everything we could with the setup since Thursday and nothing seems to give the No. 14 ABC Supply car a direction. I’m not sure exactly what to expect from the race. The only thing I can say is that I’ll give my 110 percent, like always.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Mi-Jack Honda): “It’s ultra-competitive, as everyone can see. If you gain a tenth (of a second), you gain four spots. We didn’t have quite enough in the heat. This morning in the cool, the car was pretty hooked up, but in the afternoon, we struggled a little bit. We’re starting 10th in the One Cure machine and we will put our heads down and work hard and try to stay out of the championship battle, but we have a lot to gain too. We can get in the top five in the points, so we’ll be charging.  Tomorrow’s race is a little bit earlier, being a noon start, and it will be a little cooler, track-temp-wise, which will help. You can see that Takuma (Sato) and I ran about the same times. We definitely need to work on improving the cars a little bit and saving the rears (tires) for the race a little bit. I think it’s going to be a physical race, a lot of laps around here with very little break.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 Team Gorilla Automotive Products Honda): 
“That Gorilla Automotive Products Honda No. 18 crew did an amazing job. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure what happened, but I probably just missed the apex by a foot and got myself in the dirt and that was that. Didn’t realize that line was that narrow, but when I got out of that car I didn’t see a chance that we were going to be able to get back out there (for qualifying), and the entire team, three crews that we have here on site for Dale Coyne Racing and Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan pulled it together, and man, it was pretty impressive. The car was as good as it was this morning, so it’s pretty amazing. Hats off to those guys. Hopefully, we can get a good result out of this one.”

PIETRO FITTIPALDI (No. 19 Paysafe Honda):
 “It was a tough group, but that’s not an excuse. I think the No. 19 Paysafe car was good. It was good yesterday in practice and Thursday at the test. We’re just missing that last little tenth. I’m happy with the performance of the car and the Dale Coyne Racing team has done a great job. I’m feeling a lot better than at Mid-Ohio, still a little bit of pain, but I’m looking forward to the race tomorrow. It’s a long race and we’ll be pushing to the front.”

JORDAN KING (No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): 
“The first session, we did a good job and I was quite happy with the car. The track really changed between Rounds 1 and 2. I was two or three tenths slower than I was in the first session, so I’m a bit annoyed. We should have been solidly inside the top 10. The difference between blacks (Firestone primary tires) and reds (Firestone alternate tires) seems quite big here, so it will be interesting to see who has a good car on what tire during the race. Portland is good fun.”

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): 
“It’s frustrating, the car felt a little strange. It just really didn’t have the grip to lean on the fronts (tires) or the rears. I was just all over the place. We really didn’t change the car too much, so we’ll have to look at everything and see what we can do for tomorrow. We’ve been quick at points over the weekend, so hopefully, we can get the car fast again for the race.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): 
“The Menards Chevy is still just super tight. I didn’t have enough speed to make it through to the next round. I just need to keep working on understanding the track and getting the best out of the car. We are starting at the back, but we have some red Firestone (alternate) tires for tomorrow. Some good strategy could bring us back to the front and that’s what we will try and do.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet): 
“Obviously, I’m disappointed with how we qualified today. We made some big strides forward yesterday with the No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet after Thursday’s test. Even this morning, I was still feeling pretty good with where we were, but we just missed the window on tires and qualifying didn’t go our way. I’m still confident in our race pace and I think with a little bit of strategy we could still come out of Portland with a good result.”

ZACH VEACH (No. 26 Group 1001 Honda): 
(About when things have started clicking for him in his rookie season with Andretti Autosport): “I think it’s a little bit of confidence, understanding the car and knowing where the speed is at. I’m very lucky to have the teammates I do. Every weekend they set the bar insanely high. I’m trying to close the gap. Each weekend, it gets easier and easier. You see where that level is going to be, that’s what you strive to get to. I’m lucky. The past three places that we ran at, I think a lot of it’s an experience gap between rookies and guys that have been doing this. I was lucky to test at Gateway, Pocono, here about a month ago. That really helps you get up to speed a little quicker and have a better understanding of how to get towards the top of the charts, I think.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda): “I think at the end of the day, you have to take the good with the bad and it’s unfortunate. It’s disappointing because I don’t think our car had the pace that Will (Power) did, and he’s been kind of the car to beat all weekend and we’re struggling to find that extra little bit. The positive is, obviously, we are ahead of Scott (Dixon), so we have to maximize that tomorrow as best we can. Hopefully, being on the inside for Turn 1 is a good thing because I know it’s definitely tight down there and it’s a long run down. On the outside, you are exposed and that’s not a good thing. Third is better than second, but definitely worse than first, so we’ll put our heads together and try to come up with a car to run up front.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “Thanks to the team, teammates, we’ve been working really well together. We had a good turnaround coming from yesterday. The day before never just really had what we needed from the car. We worked together. Marco (Andretti) has been really quick. We worked with him on a setup for today. He put us on the right track. Thanks to him, as well. Yeah, it was a pretty good day. We went with kind of a funky strategy for the final Firestone Fast Six. Didn’t quite pan out for us. We could race from fifth, though. Should be a good race tomorrow. Interesting to see how it all unfolds and what kind of setup is going to be needed to make these Firestones last.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Honda): “We had a very strong package this morning. The car felt good with the changes we made overnight, so we were very positive about qualifying. Obviously, the temperature was very different between practice and qualifying. It was cold this morning and we had a great session, and then in qualifying, it was the hottest so far of the weekend and changed our speed a lot. Unfortunately, the balance wasn’t there and I wasn’t able to clock a fast enough time to progress, so I am very disappointed. There are some places to pass, but it will be very challenging. We will continue to work on improving the car and give it our best effort in the race.”

ALFONSO CELIS JR. (No. 32 Juncos Racing Chevrolet): “Qualifying has finished and Day 2 has gone by. I would say, in general, I am happy with the direction we went in today and the pace we picked up. Even though we did not qualify where we wanted to be, I think we made a lot of progress as a team this weekend. The car is the best it’s been so far. We will keep improving, and tomorrow I think we have some great pace to battle with everyone in the pack. It’s a big step forward, so we will now focus on the race.”

SANTINO FERRUCCI (No. 39 Cly-Del Honda): “We had a great car, but we unfortunately got caught up in some slower traffic and I couldn’t build more of a gap because I had another car behind me. It’s a shame because I think we could have gone a couple of tenths faster with our No. 39 Cly-Del Manufacturing Honda to make it into (Group 2). I feel bad for the guys because they’ve done a great job preparing the car, but it’s a long race tomorrow and we’ll try to get it up front. I think we have something good for the race.”

MAX CHILTON (No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet): “It’s a very fast, challenging circuit and it’s such a short lap that it’s hard to avoid traffic even with the field split into two groups. We didn’t have the pace coming into qualifying today, so we went red, red for tires (Firestone alternate tires), which we’ve done a few times before this season. I think that strategy has worked well for us because it has put us a few places higher than we would’ve been otherwise. It’s so hard to overtake on this track, so the chance that anyone will move forward that much because they have an extra set of red tires is unlikely, in my opinion. I feel like we made the right strategy call. We’ll keep working tonight and try to find a bit more speed in the No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet for tomorrow’s race.”

JACK HARVEY (No. 60 AutoNation SiriusXM MSR with SPM Honda): “I had hoped that we could have pulled off a better qualifying result than that. Yesterday, we had a really good handle on the car and I think today it slipped away from us just a little bit. We’ve shown top-10 speed, so not to transfer is pretty disappointing. It’s tough to be on the bubble like that and be the guy to not transfer, but it is going to be our highest start of the year. We are making progress, but just a little disappointed that we couldn’t show our pace in qualifying.”

GABBY CHAVES (No. 88 Harding Group Chevrolet): 
“Frustrated with our qualifying session because we have had a pretty good car all weekend. We were just getting ready to open up our fastest lap, and unfortunately, got traffic right ahead of us and it was really hard to get the right gap. Well, that was it. We have some work to do before the race tomorrow now, so far we’ve had a good car, so we’ll keep positive with that.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 98 / Curb Honda): “The car today didn’t have the potential that it had yesterday. We were battling with both ends of the car today, and I’m bummed we didn’t stay with the track because we went from running the best all weekend to the worst on the team when it counts. So I’m pretty disappointed, but we’ll come back fighting tomorrow.”

‘What They’re Saying’ from Grand Prix of Portland practice

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “The Verizon car is really quick. We just kept getting held up today. There were a lot of yellow flags and a lot of people making mistakes. It was difficult to put a lap together. I don’t think Practice 2’s times were relative to our pace, but I think we should be in the top five tomorrow. We have a car to do that. The guys have been working really hard all weekend. I’m excited to qualify tomorrow.”

MATHEUS “MATT” LEIST (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Practice went all right, but the car is still not good enough to run close to the top 10, so we just have to keep trying new things, working hard, and hopefully at some point, we’re going to get there.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Electronics SPM Honda): “Fairly productive day. The track here in Portland is a tricky little place. It’s great to be back, first of all, and I think everyone in the series is really embracing the event and the organizers have done a really good job. For 25 Indy cars around a less than two-mile track, it gets pretty busy out there; it’s always tough to kind of get a good lap in. This afternoon, we made some really good improvements in the Arrow Electronics car. Having Carlos (Muñoz) and Jack (Harvey) here has been a huge help at a new circuit to get as much data as possible. Unfortunately, there was a red flag when we were doing our red (Firestone alternate) tire lap at the end, so I don’t think we got to show our true potential today. Obviously, with Jack in the top five, we know what the car can do. We’ll put our heads together overnight to get it even better still, and hopefully, we’ll be fighting for the Firestone Fast Six tomorrow.”

CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 6 Lucas Oil SPM Honda): 
“In second practice, I was definitely feeling more and more comfortable with the Lucas Oil car. It’s INDYCAR – everyone is really close to each other (with on-track times). I’m happy with the progression I made from yesterday to today. Yesterday at the test, it was a completely new car for me; it’s been a year since driving it (on the road course). Today was a little rough on my body, getting my muscles used to it, but I think tomorrow I’m going to be even better physical-wise and also with the car. I think we are doing a good job. The car balance has improved a lot compared to yesterday. Jack (Harvey) seems pretty fast, so that’s great for the team. Overnight, we’ll study the data and see where I can learn more.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda):
 “I think it was a strong first day overall here in Portland. We had a good test day here yesterday where we were fastest in the PNC Bank car, so that was a good start for us. I think today really was about getting familiarized with the track again and just putting in the laps. It’s been several years, but it’s great to be back and I’m excited for the weekend.”

ED JONES (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): 
“I just wasn’t happy with the car in the second session. We’re not where we need to be and we’ll need to go back and really work on where we are tonight before we get to qualifying tomorrow here in Portland. The NTT DATA car should be further up the speed chart and we’ll be working hard to figure out how to get it where it should be.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): 
“Not bad. I think we’ve kind of been in the window with the No. 12 Verizon Chevy the whole time. We just need to look at a few driving details and pick up a bit of time in the first sector. We’ll have a look at it tonight and see if we need to make any adjustments and see what we have tomorrow.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Tough days. Two very difficult days for us. It seems like we’ve been trying a lot of things and we haven’t found a way yet. I think we have a good direction now, but it’s hard. The last couple days have not been fun…apart from having a baby! That brightens up anybody’s life. We’ve been expecting it for so long. I know people say, ‘It’s your fourth.’ But it doesn’t matter how many there are, it’s still very sweet. I feel very lucky that we have healthy kids-all born very healthy with no problems. When you have a bad day on the racetrack, you have to put life in perspective and believe there are much bigger issues than just having a bad race car and not starting well. Days like yesterday and then being up all night with Lauren (Kanaan, wife) on the phone, and hearing the baby cry and it was a girl, which deep inside, when you have three boys, you kind of hope for a girl, it’s awesome. I don’t think there’s anything this weekend that can make me upset, but I still want to do a good job for ABC and for A.J. (Foyt, team owner). We rebuilt this team quite a bit and we’ve been suffering quite a bit the last few races with some bad luck. Hopefully, we’re building things up and making us stronger for next year.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Mi-Jack Honda): 
“It’s a tight field, so it’s a bad weekend to be off slightly. We need to keep working hard. There are no quick and easy solutions. Everyone is trying awfully hard and we’re just missing it a little bit. The track is slightly different, but in most respects, it’s the same. It’s great to be back. These cars are fast around here, they really scream around this track. If you are watching these things in person or watching the onboard cameras, that comes across. We are hauling the mail; just flying around this place.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 Team Gorilla Automotive Products Honda): 
“It was kind of a two-speed day. The first practice was pretty good. The Gorilla Automotive Products Honda No. 18 was dialed in from yesterday’s test. Then, it got quite a bit warmer in the afternoon. The track temp was much higher and the whole afternoon session was disjointed – red flags, guys leaving the pits not really paying attention and blocking each other. So, it was difficult to get a real read about the car. We had a decent run on the black (primary) Firestone tires, then on the red (alternate) tires, I just didn’t get a read. We did our fast lap on the reds on Lap 6, which is far too late. My teammate, Santino (Ferrucci) was extremely quick and happy with his car on red tires and I am a little too accustomed to not being super happy on reds. We will have to regroup and analyze the data and see what happens.”

PIETRO FITTIPALDI (No. 19 Paysafe Honda): “Today was a tough day for the No. 19 Paysafe crew. We missed the first practice session because we had an issue with the brakes, so we didn’t make it out on track. In the second practice, I think we were good on the black Firestone (primary) tires, within the top 11 or 12. All three Dale Coyne Racing cars had slightly different setups, and when we went on reds (Firestone alternate tires), I didn’t find the grip like my teammates did, but it’s good that we’ll be able to go back and debrief and see what they did different and use it tomorrow.”

JORDAN KING (No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): 
“We made good progress again today. On the black (Firestone primary) tires, we were pretty good. We were up there straight away from the start, only a couple of tenths off. We’re getting there, small bits at a time. I am a little annoyed with the run on red (Firestone alternate) tires. More the warmup process, then there’s traffic and you only get one lap before you have to back off. From my side, it wasn’t the best lap in the world, so there’s a couple of tenths still in the car, for sure. I think a lot of people probably had a similar session to that because there’s a lot of good drivers who were down at the back. We’ll probably be a couple of tenths quicker, but we’ll see if everyone goes quicker, as well. I’d say we’re within the window, so it will be interesting tomorrow to see what we can get out of it. Going into qualifying, I have high hopes.”

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): 
“We had a fairly decent day. We made some good changes throughout the day. The car we ended with at the end of the second session is the best we had all day, so that’s encouraging. It was really tough to get some clear track out there to validate changes or to put in a good lap. There was so much traffic, it was difficult to get a clear read. Other than that, we did lots of things that made the car better, and hopefully, that trend continues tomorrow.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): 
“It’s super tight, but we’ve made big progress on the No. 22 Menards Chevrolet. I’m quite happy with where we are. We don’t have the balance yet to challenge for pole position, but we are right there. We just have to find a way to give it a little more turn. I think we will have plenty of pace, though.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet): 
“From the first lap we ran today, the No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet was better than it was yesterday during the test. We worked through a lot on yesterday’s test day and we were able to dig through so much data to come up with a better starting point this morning. Do we still have room to improve? Absolutely, but at the same time we have a solid direction now and we have a really good idea of where we need to go to get stronger throughout the rest of the weekend.”

ZACH VEACH (No. 26 Group 1001 Honda): 
“Overall, today was pretty good. I’m a little upset that we didn’t get the most out of our Firestone reds (alternate tires) at the end of the day. I made a small mistake that put us P8 instead of probably in the top three. I think we have a pretty good car and a pretty good chance this weekend, but I need to put it all together.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda): ” We made good progress from yesterday to today. We weren’t able to get our fast lap in at the end of the session when we were on reds (Firestone primary tires), which is unfortunate, but I think the car is pretty good. It’s very difficult to pull it all together around here with it being such a short lap. We’re going to have to keep moving forward and stay on top of the conditions, but I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “Today was just one of those days when absolutely nothing went right, especially during the second session with new red (Firestone alternate) tires. We weren’t able to get a good run on them. Cars kept coming out in front of us on track, and we weren’t able to get our run going or able to do anything with it. I think right now we’re about a P7 car and that’s not going to cut it. We need to go back to the drawing board tonight and make sure the DHL machine has a shot at the pole tomorrow.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Honda): “It was a mixed day today. After a good day yesterday where we got more understanding of the car and the track, this morning I felt pretty positive, the car was competitive. We were comfortably in the top 10, there were a lot of 57.8’s, and we were only a couple of tenths off of the leader and that was quite encouraging. The balance was good, too. We tried to improve the balance of the car for this afternoon, and of course, it was in warmer temperatures and a hotter track. The temperature made the car have less grip, but not only that, it didn’t feel as good as this morning. We need to look at the data. Both cars also underperformed on the red (Firestone alternate) tires. Luckily, we have one more day to work on it before the race, so hopefully, tomorrow is a better day. This is a fantastic track. It’s a little road course, but it is quite challenging. You need a lot of commitment. It’s a busy track, especially considering you have two long straights. There are so many corners together. It’s just nonstop, constant work. It’s a great track. We had a good autograph session today. There were so many fans here and they were so enthusiastic that INDYCAR is back. It’s a great venue and it’s so close to downtown, which has great food and a great atmosphere.”

ALFONSO CELIS JR. (No. 32 Juncos Racing Chevrolet): 
“Today we learned a lot. We have some things to work on and figure out for tomorrow. We will go back and analyze the data and make some decisions for our setup. I look forward to improving in qualifying tomorrow.”

SANTINO FERRUCCI (No. 39 Cly-Del Honda): “I can’t thank Dale (Coyne) enough for giving me this opportunity. The team has done a great job preparing the No. 39 Cly-Del car. They’ve been working really hard the past couple of weeks because it’s been back-to-back-to-back. I’m very happy with how today went. We were really quick on the Firestone red (alternate) tires, but on the blacks (Firestone primary tires), there’s still some work to do.” (About his thoughts on the track): “Learning the track has been a bit of a challenge, but it’s been nice to have Sebastien (Bourdais), who coached me, with which lines to take. The track is also really challenging because you have so many people on track within a short distance, plus it’s a really quick track and extracting every little hundredth and thousandth of a second that you can is making the difference here. I can’t thank the guys enough, they’ve given me a really good car so far, and hopefully, we can keep going in that direction the rest of the weekend.”

MAX CHILTON (No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet): “We made a big step forward overnight after our test day here yesterday. It might not necessarily show in the timing sheets after that last practice session, because the reds (Firestone alternate tires) just come in so quick, and we caught traffic when I was on my quick laps. I’m not exactly sure where we are with the red tires, but I think we’re better than where the timing sheets are showing us position-wise. Like I said though, we made a pretty sizable change on the No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet after yesterday and I think it’s probably one that we should’ve done all year. I feel like we’re in a better position than we’d originally thought we’d be. With how short of a lap it is here, everything is critical and it’s all very close.”

JACK HARVEY (No. 60 AutoNation SiriusXM MSR with SPM Honda): 
“Honestly, I think we have been quite OK since we got here. That last session we hovered around 10th and then ended the day P5. The track is awesome, I can’t believe we haven’t raced here in so long. Portland, the city, has been good fun as well. There are just a lot of positive vibes around us right now. I try not to get too carried away, but it is nice to take the time and enjoy the result. The whole team has done a great job, and we have consistently improved and we will try and do the same tomorrow.

GABBY CHAVES (No. 88 Harding Group Chevrolet): “Productive day, we made some good changes and ended the day with a solid run of seventh. Very happy with that, so looking forward to practice and qualifying tomorrow. I’ll try to do a really good job at nailing a quick lap time. The field is so tight that it’s going to be really important to make sure we hit everything as perfect as we can to execute a perfect lap in qualifying.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 98 / Curb Honda): “We’ve been in the top four all weekend and the car is particularly good on reds (Firestone alternate tires). I think we can still make a small improvement, but I think we have enough to make it into the Firestone Fast Six tomorrow. We’ve been guessing correctly with the balance between the blacks (Firestone primary tires) and reds, and that makes it fun for me because we’re kind of hitting it on both compounds, and I think if we follow the track correctly, we can have a shot at pole.”

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…

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