Portland IndyCar: Power beats Rosenqvist, Rossi for 37th win

Team Penske-Chevrolet’s Will Power scored a comfortable second victory of the IndyCar season when his prime opposition, Scott Dixon, pitted from the lead with a dead engine, while Alexander Rossi clawed back to second in the title race with a podium finish.

Portland IndyCar: Power beats Rosenqvist, Rossi for 37th win

From the second pole position of his career Colton Herta made a flawless start, but when Power moved his Team Penske-Chevrolet left to tuck in behind him, he found Dixon’s Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda already there and had to move out to the left, and concede the inside line to not only Dixon but the top primary-tired car, Jack Harvey in the Meyer Shank Racing with Arrow SPM-Honda.

Further back, Graham Rahal misjudged his braking just enough to jack Zach Veach into the air and knock him into James Hinchcliffe’s Arrow SPM-Honda, with teammate Conor Daly getting collected in the melee. Also damaged was the second Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing-Honda of 2018 Portland winner Takuma Sato who trailed back to the pits for wing damage repair.

Avoiding the pile-up was championship leader Josef Newgarden but swerving through the Turn 1 run-off dropped him almost to the back of the field. Behind him ran his closest title challenger and Team Penske-Chevy teammate Simon Pagenaud, who was clipped as he avoided the accident by braking heavily, and he was spun to the very back.

The restart would thus see the alternate-tired Herta and Dixon leading primary tired Harvey, alternate-tired Power, and then the Andretti Autosport cars of Ryan Hunter-Reay and Rossi and the Ganassi car of Felix Rosenqvist, all three on primaries. Tony Kanaan’s AJ Foyt Racing-Chevrolet had advanced from 19th to eighth ahead of Charlie Kimball (Carlin) and Marco Andretti (Andretti Autosport).

Under yellow Newgarden was re-ordered to restart 11th ahead of Santino Ferrucci’s Dale Coyne Racing-Honda and teammate Sebastien Bourdais. However, the two DCR cars pitted along with Max Chilton (Carlin), the two Ed Carpenter Racing cars of Spencer Pigot and Ed Jones, and Matheus Leist in the second ECR car.

That Lap 13 restart saw Power immediately zoom onto the tail of Harvey and outbrake him into Turn 1 to grab third, as Herta held off Dixon to retain the lead.

Next time by, Rossi threatened Hunter-Reay’s fifth place down the front straight, RHR moved over to defend but then tried an impossible dive down the inside of Harvey to claim fourth. It didn’t work, and both cars sustained heavy damage, bringing out the caution once more.

The Lap 18 restart saw Dixon again threaten Herta but then lose momentum, so that he came under threat from Power temporarily. Meanwhile Andretti moved past Kanaan to claim sixth, and the Penskes of Newgarden and Pagenaud moved up to ninth and 12th respectively.

That became eighth for Newgarden as Kimball fell briefly off the road and ceded four places, and Newgarden then zapped Kanaan for seventh on Lap 21. The top three were on alternates, the next five were on primaries.

By Lap 26, the top five – Herta, Dixon, Power, Rossi, Rosenqvist – were running pretty much equidistant, blanketed by 2.5sec. Pigot (on alternates and having topped off his fuel under yellow) passed Kanaan and moved swiftly onto Newgarden’s tail as the primary-tired Penske driver was held up by Andretti. Two laps later, Pigot was through and into seventh, and he took just another lap to demote Andretti. Next time by, Kanaan stopped and rejoined 15th, while Newgarden levered Andretti out of seventh on Lap 34.

Herta started coming under serious pressure from Dixon from Lap 35, the car squirming as he tried to put the power down, and along the back straight on Lap 37 Dixon drafted past along the back straight to grab the lead. Herta’s subsequent lost momentum through the final sequence of turns made him easy meat for Power down the front straight, and while he initially held off Rossi, Herta would fall to fifth behind his semi-teammate and Rosenqvist. Herta pitted for primary tires at the end of Lap 39. Next time by, Pigot made his second stop, and on Lap 41 Dixon, Power, Rossi, Newgarden and Andretti also stopped.

Rosenqvist waited one more lap before taking on new tires, and that worked well as he slotted ahead of Rossi. As late stoppers Leist, Chilton and Bourdais stopped, Dixon was left with a 3sec lead over Power, both now running primary tires.

Behind them on alternates were Rosenqvist, Rossi, Newgarden and off-strategy Ferrucci, with Herta (primaries) now seventh ahead of Andretti, Pagenaud, Kanaan and Pigot. Despite now running primaries, Pigot would soon pass alternate-tired Kanaan.

Toward the end of Lap 52, while leading Power by 3sec, Dixon suddenly slowed and trickled down pitlane, engine dead. For the second straight race, the five-time and reigning champion’s hopes of race victory had ended with a long pitstop. He would rejoin three laps down.

Ganassi’s hopes of race victory weren’t over yet, however, because Rosenqvist was still within a second of new leader Power and appeared to have kept his alternate compound tires in reasonable shape, while pulling 1.4sec over Rossi, who in turn was 4.7sec ahead of Newgarden. By Lap 60, however, Josef was having to watch his mirrors, as primary-tired Herta was closing in, sometimes by as much as half a second per lap. Sure enough, Herta made an easy move down the inside of Newgarden at Turn 1 to claim fourth on Lap 67.

By then, Pigot had not only passed Pagenaud’s Penske, but on Lap 70 outbraked Andretti for sixth at Turn 1. As last year, the ECR driver was looking very fast in race trim, and overcoming his innocent involvement in the Lap 1 mess.

Herta had closed right up onto the tail of third-placed Rossi by the time he stopped for fresh primaries on Lap 72. Pagenaud also stopped that lap.

To protect from being overcut should a yellow come out, Power – holding a 3.1sec lead over Rosenqvist – pitted for the second and final time, while Rossi and Newgarden also pitted. Andretti, having his best race of the season in sixth, had to take on a new nosewing assembly after an incident with Pagenaud and fell down the order to 14th.

Rosenqvist, who went one lap longer, had pulled 3.2sec over Rossi and so he rejoined in second, while Alex was again left watching his mirrors for the feisty Herta. However, by Lap 80, Rossi – now running 11sec behind Rosenqvist – appeared well able to fend off the polesitter who was 6.6sec up the road from Newgarden.

The race order was largely static through much of the final stint, Power’s lead over Rosenqvist between 2.5 and 3sec depending on traffic, Rossi a further 11sec down and not being attacked by Herta, and Newgarden seven seconds back, but 9sec ahead of Pigot.

Pagenaud in seventh was the highest of the runners using alternates, but provided he could make them last, he didn’t seem under threat from the Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan machine of Bourdais.

However, with seven laps to go, Ferrucci ground to a halt on the front straight. Out came the full-course caution, and the lapped cars were moved to the rear of the field.

With four laps to go, the field got the green once more, and the order stayed static down to Turn 1; indeed, Power pulled out a 1.47sec lead in just that one lap, and he led comfortably to the checkered flag for the 37th win of his career and his second of the season. It lifts him to joint sixth – with Bourdais – in IndyCar’s all-time winner list.

Rossi held on to claim third ahead of Herta, Newgarden, Pigot, Pagenaud and Matheus Leist.

Race results:

Championship standings: 1, Newgarden 593; 2, Rossi 552; 3, Pagenaud 551; 4, Dixon 508; 5, Power 469; 6, Sato 397; 7, Hunter-Reay 380; 8, Rosenqvist 365; 9, Rahal 353; 10, Ferrucci 339.

IndyCar reveals 2020 schedule – Richmond in, Pocono out

Previous article

IndyCar reveals 2020 schedule – Richmond in, Pocono out

Next article

Power says it’s “surreal” to see his name with IndyCar idols

Power says it’s “surreal” to see his name with IndyCar idols
Load comments
The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career Prime

The F1 champion who became an Indy king in his second career

Emerson Fittipaldi’s decision to go racing with his brother led to him falling out of F1, but he bloomed again on the IndyCar scene. NIGEL ROEBUCK considers a career of two halves

Formula 1
Jul 31, 2021
The lasting legacy of a fallen Indy car rookie Prime

The lasting legacy of a fallen Indy car rookie

Jeff Krosnoff was plucked out of obscurity to become a respected and highly popular professional in Japan, and then got his big break in CART Indy car for 1996. But a tragic accident at Toronto 25 years ago cut short a promising career and curtailed his regular teammate Mauro Martini's passion for racing.

Jul 14, 2021
The winners and losers in IndyCar 2021 – Mid-season review Prime

The winners and losers in IndyCar 2021 – Mid-season review

At the halfway point in the 2021 NTT IndyCar Series season, we've had seven winners in eight races, spread between five teams – none of them Team Penske. In this unusual season, even by IndyCar standards, who’s excelling and who’s dragging their heels? David Malsher-Lopez reports.

Jun 18, 2021
The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness Prime

The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness

Long-awaited wins for ex-Formula 1 drivers Marcus Ericsson and Kevin Magnussen in IndyCar and IMSA last weekend gave F1 a reminder of what it is missing. But with the new rules aimed at levelling the playing field, there’s renewed optimism that more drivers can have a rewarding result when their day of days comes

Formula 1
Jun 17, 2021
Castroneves: How I kept it under control to make Indy 500 history Prime

Castroneves: How I kept it under control to make Indy 500 history

Helio Castroneves’ overwhelming vivaciousness outside the cockpit belies a hardcore racer who knows how to plot his moves – and then recall it all for us. A day after his fourth Indy 500 win, Helio explained his tactics to David Malsher-Lopez.

Jun 2, 2021
How 'chess master' Castroneves cemented his Indy legend status Prime

How 'chess master' Castroneves cemented his Indy legend status

Helio Castroneves joined AJ Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears with the most Indianapolis 500 wins after sweeping around the outside of Alex Palou on the penultimate lap in a thrilling climax. In one race, he validated Michael Shank's and Jim Meyer's faith in him, and Helio himself discovered there's life after Penske after all.

Jun 1, 2021
Indy 500 preview: Will experience or youth be victorious? Prime

Indy 500 preview: Will experience or youth be victorious?

A quarter of the drivers racing in the 105th edition of the Indianapolis 500 are former winners - but are they the favourites? The veteran drivers largely impressed in qualifying - but there's also a plethora of young guns looking to secure victory at IndyCar's flagship race...

May 25, 2021
What will it take to get American drivers in Formula 1? Prime

What will it take to get American drivers in Formula 1?

The FIA says it wants American drivers in Formula 1, but would it take an IndyCar driver to transfer or does an American need to join the European junior ladder system to get there? By David Malsher-Lopez.

Formula 1
May 19, 2021