RECAP: Grand Prix of Portland
Photographer: Spacesuit Media
VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES
For the first time in 11 years, the IndyCar Series took to Portland's 1.964-mile road course to set the starting grid. With all four Andretti drivers advancing to Segment 2, it was all eyes on the fight for the Firestone Fast Six. Alexander Rossi led the way, qualifying in the third position and spots ahead of championship leader Scott Dixon. Rossi was followed by Ryan Hunter-Reay in fifth, making his fourth Firestone Fast Six appearance of the season and ninth top-six start this year. Rounding out the Fast Six was Zach Veach, claiming the sixth grid position - his first Firestone Fast Six appearance and career best qualifying spot. Despite finishing in the top four on the combined practice charts, Marco Andretti rolled off from ninth for Sunday's 105-lap race, earned his eighth top-10 start of the season.
CHASING THE CHECKERS.
Group 1001's Zach Veach ran solidly inside the top four for the first stint after making a career best start from sixth. With 55 laps complete while running in sixth - after giving up a position for a blocking penalty - Veach ran off course and finishing one lap down in 19th. Veach will settle for second in the Rookie of the Year standings.
Marco Andretti was collected in a multi-car incident on the opening lap leaving the No. 98 upside down on track. Andretti emerged from the incident without assistance and was checked, cleared and released by IndyCar medical. With damage to the 98 not allowing the car to return to competition, Andretti was scored at a 25th-place result and moves on to Sonoma Raceway, where the veteran driver collected his first career win in 2006.
Keep up to speed between the checkers and the greens with AndrettiAutosport.com and via our suite of social media channels.
IN THEIR WORDS.
NO. 28 DHL HONDA
“We gave that one away. The DHL car was the car to beat today – we had the right fuel but we had some miscommunication on pit lane. I was saving fuel as Takuma came out of the pit lane and so I didn’t attack. That miscommunication probably cost us the race. I’m pretty bummed right now. I know we had a car to win and all day long I tried really hard to save that fuel and made the fuel mileage the stand was requesting, but couldn’t pay off for it in the end."
NO. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS HONDA
“It’s one of those days. We had a fast car – the NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda was really quick out front and we were able to build a seven-second gap. Our tire strategy was going to plan and everything was good until the yellow came on Lap 56. It hurts a lot and hopefully it’s not something that costs us the championship. We just have to rebound and move on from it and know that it’s something that’s out of our control. Now it’s time to refocus and be ready to attack for Sonoma.”
NO. 26 GROUP 1001 HONDA
“It was a really tough race. We made contact on the start as we made our way up to fourth and that damaged our undertray quite a bit. Because of that, we were running around with a few hundred pounds less downforce – and that made the car very difficult to drive. We were trying to make up for that damage and just pushed a little too hard and made a mistake and that ended our race putting us a lap down. I’m frustrated in myself – I should’ve been a little more patient in what we had.”
NO. 98 MILITARYTOMOTOSPORTS.COM / CURB HONDA
“I’m really lucky that when [I was upside down] nobody else hit me - that would’ve been bad, but it looked like the seas were about to part for me. As soon as I backed off for Hinch’s spin, I think Graham got into the back of me - at least that’s what he and I discussed. [Graham] didn’t see Hinch spin and I did so when I backed off he got into me. I almost thought we were going to make it through Portland Turn 1 – which we did. It was Turn 2 that got us though."
INDY LIGHTS PRESENTED BY COOPER TIRES SERIES
Drivers took to Portland's 1.964-mile road course Saturday afternoon for their last qualifying session of the season and Race 1. Championship contenders, Patricio O'Ward would start on pole after setting a lap time of 1:02.8074 - beating the 17-year-old track record previously held by Townsend Bell. Colton Herta saw the green flag from the outside of Row 1 and Ryan Norman and Dalton Kellett would take the start from sixth and seventh, respectively.
Saturday's Race 2 qualifying saw two red flags - the first being Patricio O'Ward finding himself in the tires going into Turn 4. Unable to finish the session, O'Ward would see the green flag from the back of the field in seventh. Starting on outside of Row 3, Veteran Dalton Kellett started from sixth. Still ahead of Race 2 and with the championship on the line, Colton Herta was looking to maximize the No. 98 machine's potential and grab the pole, but fell short and took the start from fourth. In an exciting turn of events, it was sophomore driver, Ryan Norman starting on the inside of Row 1 after claiming the pole position with a lap time of 1:04.0687.
CHASING THE CHECKERS.
The pressure was on between Patricio O'Ward and Colton Herta, as a win for O'Ward would clinch the series championship for the young rookie driver, but a win for Herta would extend the title fight for another day. The teammates battled the entire race, with Herta making a pass around O'Ward on Lap 5. Herta would lead nine laps before O'Ward made an aggressive move around his teammate on Lap 14 to reclaim the lead. O'Ward led the field to the checkered capturing his eighth career win and clinching the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires Series Championship claiming the $1million scholarship award from Mazda to guarantee O'Ward three races in the 2019 INDYCAR season. Herta would finish right behind O'Ward collecting his 13th podium of the season.
Teammate Ryan Norman ended his day from fifth - adding a 12th top-five finish to his Indy Lights resume and Dalton Kellett made his 51st Indy Lights career start and ended the race from seventh.
Race 2 was full of action-packed, aggressive driving to close out the season. Starting from pole, Ryan Norman, along with teammates Dalton Kellett and Colton Herta fell victim to multiple car contact on the opening lap, which found Herta spun around, Kellett taking a detour through the grass and Norman suffering front-end suspension damage leaving him unable to finish the race. Kellett would head into the pits to replace a front wing causing him finish the day from seventh and three laps down. Not suffering from any major damage, Herta would see the checkered from fourth. Avoiding contact on the opening lap, newly crowned Indy Lights champion, Patricio O'Ward, would make his way up the field from seventh and lead a total of 18 laps to capture his last win of the season.
Headed back to Indianapolis with a Team Championship and Series Championship, the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season has come to an end.
Keep up to speed with Indy Lights during the off-season with AndrettiAutosport.com and via our suite of social media channels.
IN THEIR WORDS.
NO. 27 CDMX MEXICO CITY STELLRECHT MAZDA
"I am speechless. It has been such a hard fought year. It has been a great battle with Colton [Herta], and I have to give props to him. He has been really quick and Andretti Autosport has given us awesome cars. The Mazda engines and Cooper Tires have been treating us well all year. I am so proud of this whole team - my mechanics, my engineers and everybody under the Andretti tent. It has been amazing and they have given me such a warm welcome to the team. I am ready to move up to the INDYCAR series and I can’t wait to jump in one of those bad boys. I have to thank everybody and my whole family, especially my parents, for always supporting me. This season has been a dream come true."
"I saw six cars go wide going into Turn 1 and I said to myself that probably only two of them are going to come out of there. Sure enough we made it out okay and we were running third. After that incident I picked them off one by one. Santi [Urrutia] made it really hard on me the entire race. I knew if I could get by him I could run away with the race - I was going after the win. It was the only race in my life where I didn’t have pressure and I wanted to end it in style and I wanted to be the only one in the winners circle doing donuts out on track. I set a goal for myself going into this season - I told my dad I want to get 10 poles and 10 wins, but I was joking. Then we get to the end of the season and we came up short of one each! We had a bullet of a car all year and this season has really been a dream come true!"
NO. 98 ANDRETTI-STEINBRENNER RACING / CURB MAZDA
"I passed him [Patricio O'Ward] clean and I thought I would receive the same respect, but obviously not, and he ran me off the track. I hope it was a mistake and I hope it wasn’t on purpose because that would make me really mad if it was. [For next race] you just have to win it. You can be as aggressive as you want and just go for the win."
"It was a tough weekend overall. We showed good pace, but having contact in both weekends hampered our end results. I'm still happy with P2 and P4 finishes, but we were hoping for more. I'm very happy of the Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing team this year they were flawless and the No. 98 car was great all year."
NO. 48 JOURNEY MAZDA
"The race didn’t really go as I wanted it to go. We had a super strong car that was definitely capable of running up in the front, but there was some chaos going into the first turn and I was not able to make up any positions. Everyone was going wide and I tried to pass [Aaron] Telitz, but made a mistake and had to catch back up. Tomorrow we are starting on Pole and I think we have a car that will be able to pull away or stay up front so I’m excited about doing that, and hopefully we will have a better day."
"I think [Victor] Franzoni was the one who originally hit me going into Turn 1, but there were other drivers who out broke themselves going into that same turn at the start. It's the last race of the season and I understand we all wanted to get this race win, but I think it was an immature, unprofessional thing to do. I thought we had a good chance to win this race, sadly not. I guess we’ll just come back next year and go for the championship."
NO. 28 K-LINE INSULATORS USA MAZDA
"The start of the race was fairly exciting. Aaron [Telitz] and I were going side by side and I ended up on the outside coming through Turn 2. I had to back out of it to avoid any contact, so I lost the two spots that I gained, which is fine. We got into a good rhythm and found some pace we have been looking for all weekend, so I’m very optimistic for what we can do tomorrow. The No. 28 K-Line guys have been doing a great job in qualifying and obviously the team has great cars, so we just need to make sure we hit the ground running tomorrow, make some spots up off the start, and see what we can do."
"Well it was a wild ride. If you can’t win, you might as well become a meme. The incident at the start of the race is making its rounds on Twitter which is fun. The K-Line crew did a great job getting a new push line on and we had a great car once they got me back on track. We got back on track. The car felt great and we were still two of the four fastest cars on track."