Palou Regains Championship Lead With Portland Victory

3 Mins read
(Photo Credit: Chris Owens / IMS Photo / Courtesy of IndyCar)

Chip Ganassi Racing‘s Alex Palou took back the lead of the points standings after winning the Grand Prix of Portland, now holding a twenty-five point gap to Patricio O’Ward.

Palou rebounded from being involved in an incident on the first lap, where he missed turn two as Felix Rosenqvist tapped the right rear tyre of Scott Dixon who was on the inside of Palou, forcing them all to run wide.

After pitting under caution and running on an alternate strategy, he had to fend off a charging Alexander Rossi during two late race restarts as Simon Pagenaud was tagged by his teammate Will Power on lap 86, and again when Oliver Askew spun in turn two as the race went back to green on lap 89. Both times Palou took advantage of an early start to catch Rossi off guard and build a gap that would not be beat en route to the Spaniard’s third victory of the year.

“We kept our heads down, we knew that the race was really long and I cannot believe it, we made it!” Palou said post-race.

“The guys made it, they just gave me the numbers and we just followed it. The strategy was amazing.”

O’Ward inherited the lead after that original caution and led the first stint as he and Graham Rahal built a large gap to third place Ed Jones. O’Ward made his first pit stop on lap 30, while Rahal was able to perform an overcut on lap 35 and take the lead from O’Ward. The young Mexican struggled on the primary tyres and believed he was down on power, with his issues compounded by being caught out by a poorly-timed caution on lap 51 when Callum Ilott and Dalton Kellett stopped on different parts of the track.

Rahal was the only one of the leaders not to pit before the caution, leading the field to green on lap 57 as he stretched his stint out until lap 74 to complete a two-stop. Rahal’s chances for the win were dashed as he was jumped by Jack Harvey who had a brilliant in-lap, who himself was jumped by Rossi, who was jumped by Palou on lap 79 as they all came in for their final pit stops, overcutting one after the other.

Dixon was the last of the leaders to pit on lap 80 but was unable to continue the trend as Palou easily jumped him. Dixon’s younger teammate then held off the rest of the field to win his first ever race at Portland International Raceway.

Rossi finished second to claim his first podium finish of the year, with Dixon finishing third. Harvey started in twentieth but tied his best finish of the year of fourth, marking his third straight top ten finish, while Josef Newgarden finished fifth after starting the race in eighteenth.

(Photo Credit: Chris Owens / IMS Photo / Courtesy of IndyCar)

Despite being in the first lap incident, Rosenqvist matched his season-best qualifying with a season-best finish of sixth. His fellow countryman Marcus Ericsson finished in seventh with Colton Herta finishing eighth. Rookie Scott McLaughlin recorded his second road course top ten of the season with a ninth place finish and after losing the lead and having to save fuel, Rahal rounded out the top ten.

Juncos Hollinger Racing struggled on their debut, as they were involved in a few incidents during the day, but they managed to repair the car and allow Ilott to continue to run and gain experience behind the wheel. He finished twenty-fifth.

Palou now commands the championship with a twenty-five point lead over O’Ward, who finished the race in fourteenth. Although he finished behind Dixon, Newgarden eclipsed the six-time series champion for third place in the standings. Dixon now sits in fourth ahead of his teammate Ericsson who sits fifth.

The championship fight continues next weekend at the Grand Prix of Monterrey at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on 19 September.

Grand Prix of Portland Final Results

110Alex PalouESPChip Ganassi Racing2:07:04.130
227Alexander RossiUSAAndretti Autosport+ 1.289 sec.
39Scott DixonNZLChip Ganassi Racing+ 4.440 sec.
460Jack HarveyGBRMeyer Shank Racing+ 8.220 sec.
52Josef NewgardenUSATeam Penske+ 8.956 sec.
67Felix RosenqvistSWEArrow McLaren SP+ 9.323 sec.
78Marcus EricssonSWEChip Ganassi Racing+ 10.342 sec.
826Colton HertaUSAAndretti Autosport+ 12.262 sec.
93Scott McLaughlin (R)NZLTeam Penske+ 13.943 sec.
1015Graham RahalUSARahal Letterman Lanigan Racing+ 17.544 sec.
1118Ed JonesUAEDale Coyne Racing w/ Vasser-Sullivan+ 18.159 sec.
1230Takuma SatoJPNRahal Letterman Lanigan Racing+ 18.751 sec.
1312Will PowerAUSTeam Penske+ 19.831 sec.
145Pato O’WardMEXArrow McLaren SP+ 20.849 sec.
1528Ryan Hunter-ReayUSAAndretti Autosport+ 25.563 sec.
1620Conor DalyUSAEd Carpenter Racing+ 27.397 sec.
1721Rinus VeeKayNEDEd Carpenter Racing+ 31.946 sec.
1814Sebastien BourdaisFRAA.J. Foyt Enterprises+ 32.425 sec.
1959Max ChiltonGBRCarlin+ 33.289 sec.
2048Jimmie Johnson (R)USAChip Ganassi Racing+ 33.702 sec.
2122Simon PagenaudFRATeam Penske+ 1 lap
2251Romain Grosjean (R)FRADale Coyne Racing w/ Rick Ware Racing+ 15 laps
2306Helio CastronevesBRAMeyer Shank Racing+ 19 laps
2445Oliver AskewUSARahal Letterman Lanigan RacingContact
2577Callum Ilott (R)GBRJuncos Hollinger RacingMechanical
264Dalton KellettCANA.J. Foyt EnterprisesMechanical
2729James HinchcliffeCANAndretti Steinbrenner AutosportContact
(R) = Rookie
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Lifelong sports junkie, currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Hofstra University. Lead writer for Indycar at The Checkered Flag.
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