Palou Regains Championship Lead With Portland Victory
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.
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
|1||10||Alex Palou||ESP||Chip Ganassi Racing||2:07:04.130|
|2||27||Alexander Rossi||USA||Andretti Autosport||+ 1.289 sec.|
|3||9||Scott Dixon||NZL||Chip Ganassi Racing||+ 4.440 sec.|
|4||60||Jack Harvey||GBR||Meyer Shank Racing||+ 8.220 sec.|
|5||2||Josef Newgarden||USA||Team Penske||+ 8.956 sec.|
|6||7||Felix Rosenqvist||SWE||Arrow McLaren SP||+ 9.323 sec.|
|7||8||Marcus Ericsson||SWE||Chip Ganassi Racing||+ 10.342 sec.|
|8||26||Colton Herta||USA||Andretti Autosport||+ 12.262 sec.|
|9||3||Scott McLaughlin (R)||NZL||Team Penske||+ 13.943 sec.|
|10||15||Graham Rahal||USA||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||+ 17.544 sec.|
|11||18||Ed Jones||UAE||Dale Coyne Racing w/ Vasser-Sullivan||+ 18.159 sec.|
|12||30||Takuma Sato||JPN||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||+ 18.751 sec.|
|13||12||Will Power||AUS||Team Penske||+ 19.831 sec.|
|14||5||Pato O’Ward||MEX||Arrow McLaren SP||+ 20.849 sec.|
|15||28||Ryan Hunter-Reay||USA||Andretti Autosport||+ 25.563 sec.|
|16||20||Conor Daly||USA||Ed Carpenter Racing||+ 27.397 sec.|
|17||21||Rinus VeeKay||NED||Ed Carpenter Racing||+ 31.946 sec.|
|18||14||Sebastien Bourdais||FRA||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||+ 32.425 sec.|
|19||59||Max Chilton||GBR||Carlin||+ 33.289 sec.|
|20||48||Jimmie Johnson (R)||USA||Chip Ganassi Racing||+ 33.702 sec.|
|21||22||Simon Pagenaud||FRA||Team Penske||+ 1 lap|
|22||51||Romain Grosjean (R)||FRA||Dale Coyne Racing w/ Rick Ware Racing||+ 15 laps|
|23||06||Helio Castroneves||BRA||Meyer Shank Racing||+ 19 laps|
|24||45||Oliver Askew||USA||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||Contact|
|25||77||Callum Ilott (R)||GBR||Juncos Hollinger Racing||Mechanical|
|26||4||Dalton Kellett||CAN||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||Mechanical|
|27||29||James Hinchcliffe||CAN||Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport||Contact|