PORTLAND, Oregon: Team Penske was the big winner last Sunday’s (Monday in Manila) Grand Prix of Portland held at Portland International Raceway.
Will Power, driving the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet, speeded away with the race victory — his second in as many NTT IndyCar Series races — while teammate Josef Newgarden in the No. 2 Hitachi Chevrolet extended his lead in the championship standings heading to the season finale on September 22 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California.
Newgarden could be on a Scott Dixon-like path to the title. Last year, Dixon avoided major contact in a first-corner incident here to finish fifth on Sunday, and Newgarden did virtually the same thing, braking to avoid two cars tangling in front of him in an opening-lap melee before going on to finish fifth.
“Maybe we’ve got Scott’s mojo,” Newgarden said.
Dixon’s current mojo isn’t good. A week after having his car’s radiator punctured in the race at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, Dixon’s No. 9 PNC Bank Honda suffered battery failure while leading this race on Lap 52. He had a three-second lead at the time; the pit stop dropped him three laps behind. He finished 16th.
“I just hate giving away an easy win like that,” Dixon said.
Newgarden can secure the Astor Cup and the $1-million bonus by finishing fourth or better in Monterey.
“It would be nice if [the finale] wasn’t double points, but it is and we knew that from the start of the season,” he said. “We will have to make the most of it. I don’t think it will be easy.”
Newgarden and Pagenaud started deep in the 23-car field after qualifying 13th and 18th, respectively, which put them in peril if a first-turn accident occurred. And it did happen when Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal bounced into the side of Andretti Autosport’s Zach Veach. Newgarden braked hard and kept his car unscathed, but a trailing Pagenaud spun from a hit from Carlin’s Max Chilton. Fortunately for Pagenaud, his car sustained no significant damage and he was able to continue. INDYCAR.COM