Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Will Power Retains IndyCar Championship Lead with Runner-Up Result at Portland

Will Power at the 2022 Grand Prix of Portland.
Will Power at the 2022 Grand Prix of Portland. Photo courtesy of Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment.

PORTLAND, Oregon — A runner-up finish in Sunday’s Grand Prix of Portland ensures that Will Power enters next weekend’s NTT IndyCar Series season finale with an expanded points lead.

Scott McLaughlin dominated Sunday’s 110-lap race at Portland International Raceway, leading 104 laps en route to his third IndyCar win of the season. Power’s second-place finish expands his points lead from three to 20 points over Josef Newgarden and Scott Dixon. Newgarden holds second place over Dixon based on winning more races this season.

The 2014 IndyCar Series champion started second to McLaughlin, losing that position to Christian Lundgaard on the start. Power retook second from the rookie after the first sequence of pit stops and remained there for over 70 laps, leading two laps during pit stop sequences.

Power and McLaughlin pitted on the same lap for their second and third pit stops, with Power leading those two laps by crossing the start/finish line en route to his pit box while McLaughlin was already stopped.

Despite a late-race yellow for Rinus VeeKay and Jimmie Johnson’s contact bunching up the field, Power could not get a good enough restart to challenge McLaughlin for the win and instead had to fend off Pato O’Ward’s advances.

“[O’Ward] sent it straight into me and gathered it up and came out the other side,” Power said in the post-race press conference. “Someone does a dive bomb like that, and you get away with it. Yeah, it’s good. Not a good move, but expected in his position for the championship.

“I left as much room as I could. My spotter’s saying inside, inside, and I kept going further, and, bam, he hit me over the curve. I didn’t expect it from Pato, though. He is usually a pretty good racer, pretty smart racer. He was probably needing to win the race to have a shot at the championship, so he probably just went a little bit too far.”

The 2018 Indianapolis 500 winner was 1.1792s behind the No. 3 Freightliner Chevrolet at the finish.

“It was a great day, obviously,” Power said in the post-race press conference. “Good finish, could have been much worse, things happen. I think we had a shot to win if Lundgaard didn’t get us at the beginning there on the used tires. So (we) spent the day kind of closing that gap to Scott (McLaughlin) that we got when we were stuck behind cars.”

Power’s position in the championship is simple. If he finishes in the top three places at the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey, he will win his second IndyCar championship.

“That’s still very tough, it’s very tough,” Power said on pit road to NBC. “Ganassi’s tested [at Laguna Seca] and that’s still… We’re in the best position, we’ve got the best shot, so we’ll do everything we can.”

Power’s past history being the championship leader in the season finale has not been good. In 2010, Power led Dario Franchitti by 12 points heading to Homestead-Miami Speedway before brushing the wall with the right side of his car in Turns 3-4 on Lap 134 of 200. Suspension damage sidelined Power after attempted repairs and he lost the championship by five points to Franchitti.

In 2012, Power had a 17-point lead over Ryan Hunter-Reay heading to Auto Club Speedway when he spun and hit the wall with the left side of his car in Turns 1-2 on Lap 56 of 250. Hunter-Reay was just behind Power on the track in the high line, avoiding Power’s spinning car. Power completed 10 more laps and lost the title to Hunter-Reay by three points.

In 2014, Power led Helio Castroneves by 51 points heading to Auto Club Speedway and finished ninth. Castroneves had a late penalty for a pit entrance lane infringement and finished one lap down in 14th. Power won the title by 62 points.

The Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey will be Sunday, September 11th with live coverage on NBC starting at 3:00 p.m. ET.

IndyCar Points Standings

  1. Will Power 523
  2. Josef Newgarden -20
  3. Scott Dixon -20
  4. Marcus Ericsson -39
  5. Scott McLaughlin -41

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