IndyCar Portland GP Preview

Sato beat Hunter-Reay in 2018
Sato beat Hunter-Reay in 2018

Last year before a big crowd on IndyCar's return to Portland Oregon, Takuma Sato held off a faster Ryan Hunter-Reay to win the Portland GP by 0.6s. On a race outcome determined by luck – bad luck for Alexander Rossi and Will Power, and good luck for everyone else — Sebastien Bourdais was third ahead of Spencer Pigot and Scott Dixon. Rossi was mired back in 8th because of the luck of a caution flag on a track where passing is near impossible.

Will Rossi get the IndyCar closed-pit screw again in 2019?

Grand Prix of Portland Fast Facts

Race weekend: Friday, Aug. 30 – Sunday, Sept. 1

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

Race distance: 105 laps / 206.22 miles

Media Links: Entry List (PDF) |Trackside Media Guide (PDF)

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:

INDYCAR website:

2018 race winner: Takuma Sato (No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Honda)

2018 pole winner: Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet), 57.3467 seconds, 123.292 mph

Qualifying record: Will Power, 57.2143 seconds, 123.577 mph, Sept. 1, 2018 (Set in Round 1 of knockout qualifying)

NBC Sports television broadcasts: Qualifying, 6 p.m. ET Saturday, Aug. 31, NBCSN (live); Race, 3 p.m. ET Sunday, Sept. 1, NBC (live). Leigh Diffey is the lead announcer alongside analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy. Pit reporters are Jon Beekhuis, Kevin Lee, Dillon Welch 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. All NTT IndyCar Series races are broadcast live on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network, Sirius 98, XM 205,, and on the INDYCAR Mobile app powered by NTT DATA. Live coverage of NTT IndyCar Series qualifying is available on Sirius 98, XM 205,, and the INDYCAR Mobile app.

NBC Sports Gold livestreaming: All NTT IndyCar Series practice sessions and qualifying will stream live on INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports Gold, NBC Sports' direct-to-consumer livestreaming product.

At-Track Schedule (all times local):

Friday, Aug. 30

10:50 – 11:35 a.m. – NTT IndyCar Series practice #1, NBC Sports Gold (live)

12:40 – 3:25 p.m. – NTT IndyCar Series practice #2, NBC Sports Gold (live)

3:40 – 4:10 p.m. – NTT IndyCar Series warmup/pit stop practice

Saturday, Aug. 31

11 – 11:45 a.m. – NTT IndyCar Series practice #3, NBC Sports Gold (live)

3 p.m. – Firestone Fast Six Qualifying for the NTT P1 Award (three rounds of knockout qualifying), NBCSN (live)

Sunday, Sept. 1

11:58 a.m. – Driver introductions

12:35 p.m. – Command to start engines

12:42 p.m. – Grand Prix of Portland (105 laps/206.22 miles), NBC (live)

Championship Facts

  • Josef Newgarden leads the NTT 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 2017. Newgarden has led the championship after every round this season except for the Indianapolis 500.
  • Josef Newgarden leads Simon Pagenaud by 38 points with Alexander Rossi (-46) and Scott Dixon (-70) just behind.
  • There are five drivers still mathematically eligible for the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series championship: Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud, Alexander Rossi, Scott Dixon and Will Power. 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 and 2018, 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.

Don't call it a comeback: No point lead is ever safe in the NTT IndyCar Series. Ryan Hunter-Reay, who trailed Will Power by 36 points with two races remaining in 2012, and Scott Dixon, who was 34 points behind Juan Pablo Montoya in 2015, have overcome more than 30 point deficits to win the championship. Dario Franchitti overcame a 25-point deficit to Ryan Briscoe in 2009.

Race Notes

  • There have been seven different winners in 15 NTT IndyCar Series races in 2019: Josef Newgarden (Streets of St. Petersburg, Raceway at Belle Isle Park-1, Texas Motor Speedway and Iowa Speedway), Colton Herta (Circuit of The Americas), Takuma Sato (Barber Motorsports Park and World Wide Technology Raceway), Alexander Rossi (Streets of Long Beach and Road America), Simon Pagenaud (Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Oval and Streets of Toronto), Scott Dixon (Raceway at Belle Isle Park-2 and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course) and Will Power (Pocono Raceway). The record for most different winners in a season is 11 in 2000, 2001 and 2014.
  • There have been seven different NTT P1 Award winners in 2019. Will Power (Streets of St. Petersburg, Circuit of The Americas and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course), Takuma Sato (Barber Motorsports Park and Texas Motor Speedway), Alexander Rossi (Streets of Long Beach, Raceway at Belle Isle Park-1), Felix Rosenqvist (Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course) Simon Pagenaud (Indianapolis Motor Speedway Oval, Streets of Toronto and Iowa Speedway), Josef Newgarden (Raceway at Belle Isle Park-2 and World Wide Technology Raceway) and Colton Herta (Road America) have won poles in 2019. The record for most pole winners in a season is 12 set in the 1999 CART season.
  • The Grand Prix of Portland will be the 26th Indy car race at Portland International Raceway, but the second since INDYCAR returned in 2018. Al Unser Jr. won the first Indy car race at Portland in 1984, while Takuma Sato won the race last year. Sato and Sebastien Bourdais, who won in 2004 and 2007 and, are the only former winners entered in this year's race.
  • Six drivers have won at Portland International Raceway from the pole – Danny Sullivan (1988), Al Unser Jr. (1994), Alex Zanardi (1996), Max Papis (2001), Cristiano da Matta (2002) and Sebastien Bourdais (2004).
  • Team Penske has won five times at Portland International Raceway. Penske's winning drivers are Danny Sullivan (1988), Emerson Fittipaldi (1993), Al Unser Jr. (1994 and 1995) and Gil de Ferran (2000). Chip Ganassi Racing has two wins at Portland with Alex Zanardi in 1996 and 1998. Newman/Haas Racing won a record eight times at Portland.
  • Twenty drivers entered in the event have competed in past Indy car races at Portland International Raceway. Sebastien Bourdais has six starts, most among the entered drivers. Seven entered drivers have led laps at the track (Sebastien Bourdais 146, Alexander Rossi 32, Takuma Sato 25, Ryan Hunter-Reay 19, Will Power 14, Max Chilton 10 and Josef Newgarden 8).
  • Graham Rahal scored the first win of his professional racing career at Portland, winning the Star Mazda (now Indy Pro 2000 championship) race in 2005. James Hinchcliffe claimed his first Atlantics Championship win in Portland in 2006.
  • Four rookies – Marcus Ericsson, Santino Ferrucci, Colton Herta and Felix Rosenqvist – are expected to compete. Ferrucci competed at the track in last year's event.
  • Tony Kanaan seeks to start his 316th consecutive race this weekend, which would extend his Indy car record streak that began on June 2001 at Portland. Kanaan is second all-time in career starts with 375 starts. Mario Andretti holds the record with 407.
  • Scott Dixon has made 256 consecutive starts heading into the weekend, which is the second-longest streak in Indy car racing. Marco Andretti has made 232 consecutive starts, which is the third-longest streak in Indy car racing.
  • Scott Dixon seeks to start his 320th Indy car race this weekend, which tie him with Al Unser for sixth on the all-time list.
  • Scott Dixon, the longest-tenured driver for Chip Ganassi Racing, is third on the all-time Indy car victory list with 46 wins. Sebastien Bourdais is sixth on the all-time list with 37 wins and Will Power is seventh on the all-time list with 36 wins. Power's win at Pocono broke a tie he had held with Bobby Unser since his win at World Wide Technology Raceway last season.

Grand Prix of Portland Pre-Event Quotes

Can Newgarden clinch the title at Portland?
Can Newgarden clinch the title at Portland?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): "We were able to maintain the points lead in Gateway, and that was a huge deal for us. Now that Simon (Pagenaud) has moved into the second spot in championship points, we're going to work hard as a team to really continue to battle for the championship. That's great for Team Penske to have two drivers battling it out for the title. Now we focus on Portland. It's a technical road course, so we're really going to have to make sure we hit all of our marks to make sure we don't lose any ground. It's going to be a tough race for the whole field, especially for the championship contenders. I'm excited for the challenge along with the rest of my team, and we can't wait to get on track there with the Hitachi Chevy."

MATHEUS LEIST (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): "I can't wait to get back to Portland. Since my first lap there last year, I fell in love with the track. I feel like we had a pretty good car there last year, we ran in the top 12 most of the race, but due to a yellow, we ended up falling down a couple of places. Anyway, I'm looking forward to working with my team, setting up a good car and getting the No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet a great finish on Sunday. That's what it's all about."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "Overall, I think INDYCAR had a big return last year to the Portland market. The race was unpredictable and definitely one to remember in our championship race last year with the PNC Bank team. I love the layout and the fans have shown that they will come out in big numbers. If you looked at the paddock last year it was totally packed. I hope we can build on that momentum to continue to race there for many years to come."

FELIX ROSENQVIST (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "I like the fact that we've got two road course events to wrap up this season. We've had some serious pace at the road courses this year and the team had a 1-2 last month at Mid-Ohio, so I'm confident for both Portland and Laguna Seca. I've never driven at Portland before, but it seems to be a cool place. It's a short lap, only about a minute, so I think traffic could be a factor early on in the race. Hopefully, it will suit us well and we can go for another strong result."

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "(World Wide Technology Raceway) was really tough. You can't dwell on that sort of stuff though, so we're putting it behind us and myself and the Verizon Chevy guys are ready to give it our all this weekend. They work really hard and keep giving me great cars. We just need to execute. Portland is a really fun track but with the championship battle in place, it's going to be a tough race. A lot of guys will be running harder than they have all year – some trying to get points and some just trying to get the win. We're going to keep pushing through to the end of the season and will continue to work hard for another win."

TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): "Coming from a great weekend in St. Louis, I'm looking forward to going to Portland which is a race I've always enjoyed. I've raced many years there. It's a fun race track. We were almost in the top 10 there last year so it's another race where I hope I can put the ABC Supply car in the top 10."

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 One Cure Honda): "I love going to Portland, it's a great race. Last year is not what we hoped for. We were pretty competitive last year, and I expect us to be pretty competitive again this year. We're poised for a good race there. I have had success winning in Star Mazda, being on pole in Formula Atlantic and being quick there last year, so hopefully, all the pieces of the puzzle come together. There is no margin for error to go fast there. Like all tracks, you've got to push it to the limit to get the most out of a lap, but there is a very fine line there between what is good and what is not at Portland. And there is not a lot of runoffs so the moment you drop a wheel, you're really in the grass whereas a lot of other places have a little bit of margin. Some other teams tested last week which is probably going to give them a leg up, but hopefully, we can catch up quick."

Bourdais ran in pink last year
Bourdais ran in pink last year

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 SealMaster Honda): "I am looking forward to going to Portland. We returned last year after not being there for a long time and it was a great event. It seemed like the whole city was behind it. The track is challenging, the fans are knowledgeable and the atmosphere in the city and at the track is great. I've had great success at PIR over the years (six starts, five consecutive podium finishes with two wins 2004 and 2007), but last year was kind of special. I had a good car, we were fast all along, but I made a mistake in final practice and crashed the 18 very hard. The entire team, everyone on Dale Coyne Racing and Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan pulled together to get the car repaired and back on track for qualifying. It was pretty impressive. We qualified fourth after probably one of the biggest hits I have ever had on a road course. In the race, we got swallowed up in an incident on the first lap, but we fought back and finish third. Just an amazing effort from the whole team."

SANTINO FERRUCCI (No. 19 Cly-Del Manufacturing Honda): "I'm really looking forward to going back to Portland this weekend for the Grand Prix. I enjoyed racing there last year. We had a solid race car and we had a good race going, but unfortunately, we had an issue that cost us a strong finish. I'm confident we'll have a good car again this time around and hopefully, things will go our way. It's nice to be riding this momentum of back-to-back top-five finishes to a track that I've been to before. We'll try to keep it going."

ED JONES (No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Scuderia Corsa Chevrolet): "Portland is such a great setting for an Indy car race and turned into one of my favorite tracks. I was really quick there last year leading up to the race, but unfortunately, I didn't make it past the first lap after being caught up in an incident. I am excited to get back in the car and hopefully, we can start strong. It is important to have a good ending to the season as there are only two races left to go."

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 21 Autogeek Chevrolet): "I'm excited to get back to Portland. Unfortunately, we're coming off two DNFs. so we really need a good weekend. We finished fourth in the Grand Prix of Portland last year so hopefully, we will be able to better that result this weekend. The event last year was amazing, and I can't wait to see all the fans packing the track again."

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): "Portland is shaping up to be a super-exciting weekend. (World Wide Technology Raceway) was a very important night in our championship quest. Moving up to second and winning the oval championship got us closer to the lead. This is the part of the season that I love the most. It is down to the wire exciting racing and competing at our highest level. It's time to shine."

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 23 Carlin Chevrolet): "After some strong performances and a couple of top-10 finishes at Pocono and Gateway for the entire Carlin team, I'm really excited to keep that momentum going and to be back in the No. 23 for the last two races of the season at Portland and Laguna Seca. We were really strong at Portland last year moving our way through the field from the back up to seventh, so we know what we need to do there to be successful and we've shown that we can make it happen. INDYCAR's return to Portland last year was an unrivaled success and I can't wait to get back to the Pacific Northwest and hopefully come away with another top-10 finish for the team!"

ZACH VEACH (No. 26 Gainbridge Honda): "I'm really excited to get back to Portland. That track gave me my first appearance in the Firestone Fast Six. I really hope we can do that again. We had a really good test there about a month ago, so we're looking to continue that momentum over to the weekend and have a really good race."

Rossi was fastest last year but got the IndyCar closed-pits screw
Rossi was fastest last year but got the IndyCar closed-pits screw

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda): "This three-week stretch hasn't started how we would have hoped, but we now have nothing holding us back to collect all the points we can. Our mindset has changed a bit from being conservative on our strategy to putting it all out there. We have to get another win in order to head into the season finale with a fighting chance for the Astor Cup. We were very strong last year at Portland and could have potentially won, but an untimely yellow caught us out. We tested the track earlier this month and were fast and able to get some good data under us, so we're staying optimistic and hoping to come out of Portland with a tighter battle for the NAPA team."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): "We had a really strong car in Portland last year, finishing second – but really had the car to beat all weekend. We're hoping to roll off with that same speed this weekend and work our way one step higher on the podium Sunday. The DHL team is looking for two wins in these last two races."

TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Honda): "It's great to go back to Portland as the defending winner and also having won in St. Louis. Portland is a beautiful city with the nearby mountains, the Columbia rivers and lots of seafood. I love it. There is also a great Japanese community there and a lot of Japanese restaurants and ramen, so I love it there. The fans waited a long time for the return of Indy car racing and I'm really honored to be the first winner for the new generation of races there. That was also the first win for me with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing so there are a lot of great memories and happy moments. I'm really happy to be there as the defending champion and I believe we can do a good job again. It is a tough track for sure and it was an extremely tight field. We couldn't qualify well last year but the time difference between the front row to the bottom was only a couple of tenths (of a second) so it is extremely important to squeeze the last percent of performance possible in qualifying. Further up on the grid is better of course but, if you look at last year, we ran a very unique strategy in terms of the fuel and succeeded. I don't know if that can happen again this year but more importantly our generic road course setup this year is more competitive than it was last year so I'm looking forward to having a very competitive weekend again."

MAX CHILTON (No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet): "I'm thrilled to be heading back to Portland this weekend and to get back in the No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet. It's been a lot of fun watching the team's success the last few races at Pocono and Gateway and I'm ready to keep that progress moving forward at Portland this weekend. We had a really strong race going here last year with some great restarts and we even led about 10 laps of the race, but we were just unlucky at the end with how the yellows fell and the strategy played out. We had a strong car here last year, so I'm excited to take what we learned and just keep perfecting it throughout the race weekend. Hopefully, strategy will be on our side this time and we'll be able to put up a strong result for Carlin and our partners at Gallagher."

JACK HARVEY (No. 60 AutoNation Sirius/XM Honda): "Obviously I'm excited to go back to Portland and I thought we had a really good weekend there last year. We have built good momentum throughout this season and we are pretty hopeful we can keep building on that for a successful weekend in Portland."

COLTON HERTA (No. 88 Capstone Turbine Honda): "I'm really looking forward to the Grand Prix of Portland this weekend. I enjoyed racing at Portland International Raceway last year in Indy Lights, so it will be a blast racing there in an INDYCAR. The No. 88 Capstone Turbine Honda car was so quick last weekend, so I'm hoping we can continue that speed this weekend and get a great finish!"

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 98 Oberto Circle K / Curb Honda): "We had a pretty good test at Portland earlier this month and were strong last year in practice and qualifying. Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to compete as I was caught up in the Turn 2 mess on Lap 1, but we're looking to redeem ourselves and get a good result for the Oberto / Circle K team. We need to close the year strong and Portland is the perfect setting."

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