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IndyCar Portland

Power asked for team orders, Dixon surprised there were none

Will Power admits he asked Team Penske to move teammate Scott McLaughlin aside to take the Portland win to aid his championship quest while rival Scott Dixon said he thought that such a team order would have been a “no brainer”.

Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet

After finishing runner-up in Portland, Power heads to next week’s season finale at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca with a 20-point lead over teammate Josef Newgarden and Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda’s Scott Dixon. But after finishing just behind teammate McLaughlin, who led 104 of the 110 laps, and just ahead of Dixon, who climbed from 16th to third, Power said “Absolutely. I was on the radio asking for [team orders].”

He later added: “Yeah, 10, 11 points would be great; I think we’d go in there pretty confident that we could get it done; 20, it's still a big fight.” However, Power conceded, too, “I get it from the standpoint that Scott is in. I've been there, and you don't want to give up a win.”

Although the situation is muddied by bonus points – 1 point for pole, 1 point for leading a lap, 2 points for leading the most laps – 20 points covers the gap from 1st to fifth in IndyCar’s 50-40-35-32-30 scoring system. A tie-breaker between Power and Newgarden would go in favor of the latter, who has scored five wins to Power’s one.

Although McLaughlin’s win ensures that, while fifth in the points standings, he retains an outside chance of clinching the title, Power said that in Laguna Seca he will likely be asked by the team to help out in the battle against Ganassi.

“I think that he is definitely in a position that he will just have to help, simply,” said the 2014 champion who clocked his eighth top-three finish of the season. “I don't think there will be any question about it.”

For his part, Dixon was bemused by Penske’s lack of team orders just ahead of him, stating: “I called it with 10 laps to go: ‘I'm surprised they haven't swapped yet.’” And the six-time champion went on to say there would be no question marks in the Ganassi camp, now that his teammate Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson was now 39 points off top spot, and 2021 champ Alex Palou is out of contention. Asked what expectations Ganassi might have of his teammates, Dixon commented: “Honestly, try to help if you can. I've been involved in quite a few of these, and it never really comes into play, or at least it hasn't as much as you would think it would.

“[But] situations like today with the #3 [McLaughlin] and the #12 [Power], I thought that would have been a no-brainer… We'll have to see where it lies. We always work as a team to achieve the best, and if we can help [any] of our teammates, we definitely will.”

For his part, McLaughlin – 41 points from the top of the championship – denied it would have been hard to cede the lead to Power, commenting “Everyone knew that I would have been the true winner”. He also said that he is prepared to help either of his teammates at Laguna Seca.

“I didn't know [Will] was asking for team orders, a switch or whatever,” he said, “but I can't control that. I just drove my race, and I'm a team player. I'll do whatever I need to do.

“But for me I think the best thing we could do was win the race, either car. I think that's exactly what happened…

“I think it's all circumstantial. I'm a Penske driver, I fit the mold, and if I need to do what I need to do, I am a full team player. Yeah, ideally, I would love to just go, but for me I need to pole and race win and have some fun. If things happen, yeah, I'm ready to do what I need to do for the team.”

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