Track: Portland International Raceway
Race: Grand Prix of Portland
Date: September 12, 2021
No. 2 Hitachi Dallara/Chevrolet – Josef Newgarden
Laps Completed: 110/110
Laps Led: 0
Points Position: 3rd (-34 pts)
- Josef Newgarden and the No. 2 Hitachi Chevrolet team put forth a solid, fifth-place effort in Sunday's Grand Prix of Portland to remain in the hunt for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES title with two races remaining.
- Despite finishing near the top of the speed charts in the two Saturday practice sessions, Newgarden qualified his machine in the 18th position in the Saturday time trial session. Knowing they would need to maximize their fuel strategy to have a shot at the win, the No. 2 team, led by race strategist Tim Cindric, left it up to Newgarden to decide whether to employ a two or three-stop fuel strategy.
- Following a multi-car incident on the first lap, Newgarden elected to go with a two-stop strategy, which looked to be the right direction before a caution on lap 52 leveled out the field as all competitors could then make it to the end of the race on one final pit stop.
- The No. 2 Hitachi pit crew was strong all afternoon as they kept their championship-contending driver in position to win his third race of the year. Moving up 13 spots from start to finish gave Newgarden and the No. 2 team a strong finish to what looked to be a challenging weekend after a tough qualifying.
- The second race of the three-race, West Coast swing to decide the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship will take place next Sunday, September 19 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California.
Quote: "It was a good day for the Hitachi Chevrolet team. It could've been better, but it definitely could've been worse. Going into Laguna Seca 34 points out of the lead is definitely doable. We are in the fight for the championship and that's all we can ask. The guys on pit road have been lights out lately and that was the case again today. We have to hit on all cylinders these next two weeks and I'm confident in this team to be at a championship level."
No. 3 PPG Dallara/Chevrolet – Scott McLaughlin
Laps Completed: 110/110
Laps Led: 5
Points Position: 13th (-209 pts)
- Scott McLaughlin earned his fifth top-10 finish of his rookie NTT INDYCAR SERIES season as he finished ninth Sunday in the Grand Prix of Portland.
- After qualifying 15th in the No. 3 PPG Chevrolet, McLaughlin took advantage of a first- lap incident to gain ground on the tough INDYCAR field. As several cars came together and spun in the chicane at Portland International Raceway, McLaughlin avoided the trouble and moved up to sixth place on the opening lap.
- The early incident provided teams opportunities to alter their fuel strategies for the 110-lap race. The No. 3 PPG team quickly adjusted its strategy and McLaughlin made his first pit stop of the day on lap 23.
- With the different fuel strategies playing out during the race, McLaughlin alternately ran in the middle of the pack or inside the top five for the remainder of the race. At lap 41, McLaughlin ran in 11th place. With the lead cars in front of him coming to pit lane, McLaughlin moved up to third place.
- After making his second stop of lap 52, just before a full-course caution slowed the field, McLaughlin emerged from pit lane running in 14th place. Following the race restart, McLaughlin passed championship contender Pato O'Ward for 13th place.
- As the next rounds of pit stops played out, McLaughlin and the No. 3 PPG Chevy captured the race lead on lap 80 and led for five laps.
- McLaughlin made his final stop on lap 84 and he took the race restart in eighth place. The talented New Zealand driver continued to run inside the top 10 over the final 25 laps as he crossed the finish line in ninth place.
- With two consecutive top-10 performances, McLaughlin will look to continue his recent momentum next weekend in the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey at WeatherTech Raceway
Quote: "It was a pretty good day for all of us on the No. 3 PPG Chevy. I led my first INDYCAR laps, which was cool. Our strategy was working well for us to potentially be in the top three, but the mid-race yellow put us behind the guys on the two-stop strategy. Our strategy was aggressive with a top-six or top-seven feel to it, but I made a couple of errors that cost us on the out laps. We're getting better and better, and leading our first laps showed we are heading in the right direction."
No. 12 Verizon 5G Dallara/Chevrolet – Will Power
Laps Completed: 110/110
Laps Led: 0
Points Position: 8th (-145)
- Will Power and the No. 12 Verizon 5G Chevrolet team entered the Grand Prix of Portland race weekend as the most recent winner at the Pacific Northwest circuit, but an incident on the first lap of Sunday's NTT INDYCAR SERIES race put them in a precarious situation before finishing 13th.
- One of the best qualifiers in series history, Power was unable to get a clean lap in the Saturday qualifying session and had to settle for a 14th-place starting position for the 110-lap event. On the first lap of the race, as the field barreled into the unique first turn at Portland International Raceway, Power's car suffered contact from another competitor and the No. 12 Chevy spun to help bring out a caution flag.
- After getting restarted, race strategist Ron Ruzewski called his driver down pit road several times before the race went back under the green flag, which resulted in Power rejoining the race at the end of the field.
- Once the race settled down, Power radioed that he was happy with the pace of his No. 12 Chevrolet but the lost track position proved too much to overcome despite making big gains through the field as he finished in the 13th position.
Quote: "We had a very good Verizon 5G Chevrolet today, but we were just a bit unlucky on a few incidents. The start was a real pity because it put us on the backfoot immediately. Then after a couple of stops for repairs we got hit again. It was so close to having a much better result, but we had bad out laps on cold tires and got eaten up a bit. I felt like our pace was at about a sixth-place level and we finished 13th. It was just one of those days where if you survived you would come out with a decent finish."
No. 22 Menards Dallara/Chevrolet – Simon Pagenaud
Laps Completed: 109/110
Laps Led: 0
Points Position: 9th (-148 pts)
- Simon Pagenaud looked to be headed for a top-10 result Sunday in the Grand Prix of Portland before contact 25 laps from the finish dropped the No. 22 Menards Chevrolet to the back of the field as the former series champion wound up finishing 21st.
- The first-lap multi-car incident worked in Pagenaud's favor on Sunday as he improved from his 23rd-place starting position to eighth place after he steered clear of the mayhem early on.
- Pagenaud and teammate Scott McLaughlin followed the same path as the Team Penske drivers gravitated to the same fuel strategy after gaining ground in the opening laps. Pagenaud ran one position behind McLaughlin for much of the race.
- At lap 80, Pagenaud was running in second place behind McLaughlin. He brought the Menards Chevrolet to pit lane and with a strong stop, Pagenaud appeared to be on track for strong finish.
- Just following the stop, however, Pagenaud made contact with the car driven by his teammate, Will Power as the No. 22 Chevy spun in turn 7 to bring out the yellow flag. After getting restarted to continue, Pagenaud was assessed a penalty for avoidable contact, Pagenaud dropped to 2nd in the running order. He drove hard over the closing lap to finish in 21st place.
- Next weekend, Pagenaud will look to get back on track with a solid result at WeatherTech Raceway in the penultimate race of the 2021 INDYCAR season.
Quote: "We really had a great race going on today. We fixed the Menards Chevrolet for good pace in the race. It was a great start to the race for us, missing the carnage, and running at the front of the field for most of the race. Unfortunately, we had a long pit stop and got shuffled back on the last sequence, and then got into Will a bit there. We spun and stalled there, and it probably cost us a top-10 finish. It's a bit disappointing because we did a great job recovering from qualifying. I can't wait to get to Laguna Seca, one of my best tracks."