Staying out of trouble and being in a position to pounce when misfortune struck a fellow competitor paid dividends for Will Power and helped him cruise to his second NTT IndyCar Series victory of 2019 with a win at Portland International Raceway.
- Results: 2019 Grand Prix of Portland
After starting fourth, Power avoided early carnage and slowly moved up the running order after slotting into the third position directly behind Scott Dixon with a pass on Jack Harvey. After Dixon took the lead from pole sitter Colton Herta on Lap 37, Power ran in the second position each lap that Dixon led and inherited the lead when the five-time champion’s No. 9 Honda slowed on track with mechanical trouble.
Forced to pit, Dixon was unable to make it all the way to his stall. The resulting stop for a new battery dropped the former leader three laps down and allowed Power to assume control of the year’s penultimate race.
Once out front, Power only lost the lead temporarily during the final pit stop cycle. Dixon’s teammate Felix Rosenqvist ran in the second position but was unable to keep pace with Power as the gap between the two grew as large as 6.3 seconds on Lap 95.
The race’s final full-course caution on Lap 98 for a stalled Santino Ferrucci stalled on the frontstretch threatened Power’s dominance but the 2014 series champion failed to acquiesce, taking the white flag two and a half seconds ahead of Rosenqvist and winning by a margin of 2.8 seconds over the Swedish rookie.
The victory for Power marked his 37th in Indy car competition, tying him for sixth on the all-time win list with Sebastien Bourdais. Now with 212 race wins, Team Penske remains the most victorious entrant in Indy car racing history.
Though he was mathematically eligible for the 2019 IndyCar championship entering the race, Power’s race-winning performance wasn’t enough to keep him in the title hunt with one race to go. Exiting Portland, Power sits 124 markers behind points leader Josef Newgarden.
Dixon’s unplanned pit stop relegated him to a 16th-place finish, dropping him to fourth in the championship with an 85-point deficit. While technically still in the title fight, the prospect of a sixth championship for Dixon has become more of a longshot.
Behind Power and Rosenqvist in first and second, two title contenders finished in the top five with Alexander Rossi third and Newgarden fifth, separated by Harding Steinbrenner Racing’s rookie driver Herta in the fourth position. Rossi’s strong finish allowed him to leapfrog Simon Pagenaud and take over second in the standings but not by much with Pagenaud’s seventh-place finish keeping him in the mix. Rossi and Pagenaud will hit the track at the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca finale trailing Newgarden by 41 and 42 points, respectively.
Several drivers failed to show their full potential when they fell victim to early full-course cautions. Lap 1 saw Graham Rahal get into Zach Veach, causing a multi-car incident in the first turn that also involved Conor Daly, James Hinchcliffe and Takuma Sato. Rahal, Veach and both Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports cars were forced to retire while Sato continued on after multiple trips to the pits.
A similar incident occurred on Lap 14 when Ryan Hunter-Reay went into Turn 1 too fast after battling his championship-contending teammate Rossi on the frontstretch. Hunter-Reay’s miscalculation led to contact with Harvey, ending both drivers’ opportunity for a decent finish.
With both Rossi and Pagenaud within striking distance and double points on offer, the fight for the Astor Cup will come down to the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey, set for Sept. 22 at Laguna Seca.