PORTLAND, OR (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Will Power took home the victory in Sunday’s Grand Prix of Portland at Portland International Raceway.
“It was a pretty tough race for the Verizon Chevy,” said Power. “I’m exhausted. I’m mentally exhausted and just so stoked to get into Victory Lane.”
Power was running second on Lap 52 when Scott Dixon’s No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda suddenly lost electrical power while the 5-time and defending series Champion had a three-second lead on the rest of the field.
“I hate giving away an easy win like that,” said Dixon. “We just lost power and when that happens you can’t shift and you can’t use the clutch. Luckily, we were able to get to pit lane so the crew could get us back to the pit box.”
Dixon’s “Wolfpack” crew replaced a battery that had failed. The replacement cost Dixon three laps on pit road. The “iceman” returned to the race and soldiered home with a 16th place finish.
“Obviously, not the result that we wanted with the PNC Bank car,” said Dixon. “We had a great car and it was clean sailing out front for us in the lead. The team did a great job.”
Last year at Portland Lady Luck shined on Dixon as he survived a first-lap melee but the last two weeks she has been cruel to the No. 9 team. Two weeks ago at World Wide Technology Raceway a piece of debris found its way through a protective screen and put a hole in the radiator of the PNC Bank Honda.
“The last two races haven’t been the best in terms of luck for us, but we’ll just focus now on winning at Laguna Seca.” said Dixon.
Dixon’s teammate, Felix Rosenqvist, continued his strong second-half of the season, finishing second to Power. The 2nd place finish was Rosenqvist’s second podium finish in the last 4-races.
“I thought it was a great race for us in the NTT Data Honda,” said Rosenqvist. “The team really did a nice job. We moved up from P5 to P2 and it’s a strong result. We had really good pace on the red (Firestone Alternate) tires, but Will Power and Penske did a little bit better on black (Firestone Primary) tires. I think we were stronger than Chevy on fuel mileage.”
Andretti Autosports Alexander Rossi rounded out the podium with a third place finish in the No. 27 NAPA Auto Parts Honda.
“We maximized what we had,” said Rossi. “I don’t think we had a race-winning car. “Starting in seventh and finishing on the podium is a good day.”
Rossi’s third place finish leaves him 41-points behind points-leader Josef Newgarden, who finished fifth. Simon Pagenaud sits third in the Championship hunt, one point behind Rossi and 42-points out of the top spot.
Double-points are on the line in the next race, The Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey, the season finale, Sunday September 22nd at WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca in Monterey, California.
Three-time Indianapolis 500 Winner Bobby Unser Dies At 87
(Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Unser died Sunday, May 2 of natural causes at his home in New Mexico. He was 87.
Unser won “The Greatest Spectacle In Racing” in 1968, 1975 and 1981 and is one of just 10-drivers with 3-wins in the event.
“There simply was no one quite like Bobby Unser,” said Roger Penske, Chairman of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Team Penske. “Bobby was a ferocious competitor on the track, and his larger-than-life personality made him one of the most beloved and unique racers we have ever seen. Bobby brought so much to Team Penske during his time with our team, including a memorable victory in the 1981 Indianapolis 500.”
Unser’s last ‘500’ win in ’81 put him in elite company as he joined Rick Mears as the only two drivers to post ‘500’ wins in three different decades. Unser produced 10 top-10 finishes in 19 career “500” starts and led 440-laps in 10 races, still 10th on the all-time list.
“When you mention icons in racing, and particularly the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Bobby Unser was a legend,” said J. Douglas Boles, President of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “He could drive, and win, in any type of car and on any type of track. Over the last several years, I have seen the true Bobby Unser – the man who loved our sport, loved the Indianapolis 500 and loved to be with the fans. He would go out of his way to do whatever he could to be here in May to help us keep motorsports growing.”
Prior to his success at Indianapolis, Unser dominated the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, claiming a record 13-victories. Unser also won in USAC Sprint Car, Midget and Stock Car competition, earning seven career USAC Sprint Car feature victories and placing third in the standings in 1965 and 1966. He also won six USAC Stock Car races and three USAC Midget features.
Unser climbed out of the cockpit and into the broadcast booth where his uncompromising style and matter-of-fact delivery provided some of the most entertaining commentary in open wheel racing history simply because he knew what he was talking about.
Unser was highly regarded for his technical prowess and keen engineering mind. Unser was also widely sought as a test driver because he would always push the car to the limit.
I join the racing world mourning the passing of Bobby Unser. The best of times….. when a fierce competitor can also be a very very very good friend. RIP my friend. Thanks for the memories https://t.co/zTsj1mm3jm
— Mario Andretti (@MarioAndretti) May 3, 2021
Unser is survived by his wife, Lisa; sons Bobby Jr. and Robby; and daughters Cindy and Jeri.
Pato O’Ward gets first INDYCAR win in race 2 at Texas Motor Speedway
FORT WORTH, TX (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Patricio O’Ward has been knocking on the door of winning in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and he finally knocked that door down by winning race two of the doubleheader on Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.
O’Ward passed Josef Newgarden with 24-laps remaining and pulled away to a 1.2443-second victory. The win was his first in the INDYCAR series and the first for a Chevrolet, that is not a Team Penske entry, since 2016.
“Finally!” exclaimed O’Ward in victory lane. ” I feel like we truly earned our win today. The pit stops were fantastic. The car was very well-balanced. I was able to attack. I didn’t feel like I was in defensive mode. I felt like if I was let loose, I could attack and I could get the job done.”
“It was a decent day for us,” said Newgarden. “Can’t be too disappointed with the second place. Obviously we were in the catbird seat there at the end. The only thing I was worried about, just seemed like we were lacking some speed for whatever reason. Pato’s Chevy seemed to be performing a little bit better than my Chevy.”
Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s Graham Rahal came home third after trading the lead with Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon in the midpoint of the race.
“Solid day,” said Rahal. “I think last two stints I got just way too loose. But before that, I thought we did an excellent job. The guys, one heck of a pit stop there on the second-to-last stop, which really got us into, what, from fifth to third. From there I thought we could attack pretty hard. Great work by them.”
Dixon, winner of the Genesys 300 on Saturday night, finished fourth after starting from the pole in the No. 9 PNC Bank Grow Up Great Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.
“Huge congrats to Pato,” said Dixon, who extended his lead in the Championship standings to 22-points over O’Ward. “I was watching from back a few spots there, and what he did there at the end was a tremendous drive, especially against one of the best guys in the field.”
Several cars failed to make it to the first turn of the race after Pietro Fittipaldi’s No. 51 Nurtec ODT Honda hit the rear of Sebastien Bourdais’ No. 14 ROKiT/AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet when the back of the pack approached the green flag, triggering a melee that involved seven cars and eliminated six.
“When someone checks up in front of you, you should still be in control of your car,” said Bourdais after leaving the infield care center following a mandatory checkup. “It’s still no excuse.”
Conor Daly took the wildest ride in the crash turning over after contact and sliding down the track on the roll hoop and Aeroscreen before turning right-side-up when it touched the infield grass. Daly climbed from the car without assistance.
“On our Bingo card of terrible things to have happened to us this year, I don’t know what’s going to be next,” lamented Daly. “I really hope we can just start turning things around. It’s been a rough start. But I’m good. I’m all right.”
The NTT INDYCAR SERIES is off next weekend and the following week the Month of May activities at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway begins with the GMR Grand Prix on the IMS road course on Saturday, May 15.
Scott Dixon Dominates In Race 1 Win At Texas Motor Speedway
FORT WORTH, TX (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – There is not much that Scott Dixon has not accomplished in his NTT INDYCAR SERIES career except for winning back-to-back Championships. The 6-time and reigning series Champion is back atop the points standings after a dominating win Saturday night at Texas Motor Speedway.
Dixon led a race-record 206-of-212-laps in the Genesys 300 to claim his first victory of 2021 and 51st of his career, which is one shy of 2nd place Mario Andretti on the all-time INDYCAR wins list. A.J. Foyt is first with 67-wins.
“Fifth win at Texas, baby! That was awesome,” exclaimed Dixon in victory lane. “It feels amazing to be in this position. You just never want it to end. We want to go back-to-back and try to tie Mario tomorrow. I’m sure that’s not exactly what he wants to see.”
Dixon started second in the field as the starting lineup was set by Championship points after qualifying was cancelled because of rain that forced INDYCAR to adjust Saturday’s schedule.
The biggest challenge for Dixon was fellow New Zealander Scott McLaughlin, who was making his first oval start. McLaughlin, a three-time Australian Supercars Champion, whittled away at Dixon’s lead in the closing laps as the No. 9 Grow Up Great Honda encountered lap traffic and turbulent air.
“Definitely very tense there at the end,” said Dixon, who has won a race in 19-consecutive seasons. “I have this thing on the dash that tells me the gaps to cars. I probably need to take it off because it was stressing me out more than anything. It was kind of cool to be racing a countryman for the last few laps. I kept looking down, looking in the mirror. He was fast.”
“I’ve never been this bloody happy to finish second in my life,” said McLaughlin. “I’m really stoked. I just couldn’t get Scotty (Dixon) there at the end. But I’ll tell you what: It was bloody cool battling with my all-time favorite hero, Scotty Dixon. Two Kiwis, one and two.”
The race was slowed by two caution flags. The first was on lap 56 when Four-time INDYCAR Champion Sebastian Bourdais hit the SAFER Barrier hard in Turn 2 after he contact from two-time series Champion Josef Newgarden. Newgarden was penalized and sent to the back the lead lap on the restart.
Andretti Autosports James Hinchcliffe made contact with the SAFER Barrier in Turn 2 after spinning on Lap 160 in the No. 29 Genesys Honda.
Race 2 of the Texas doubleheader, the XPEL 375, is Sunday. The race distance is a little longer, 248-laps. Live coverage starts at 5 p.m. (ET) on NBCSN and the INDYCAR Radio Network.