Team Penske continues to show why they're the benchmark for excellence. (Photo: Chris Owens | Penske Entertainment)
PORTLAND, Ore.- Scott McLaughlin started upfront and never looked back as the driver of the No. 3 Team Penske Chevrolet lead 104 laps in the 110-lap event at Portland International Raceway to take a dominant NTT IndyCar Series win in the Grand Prix of Portland.
McLaughlin picked up his third career victory in IndyCar competition, keeping his “Thirsty Threes” alive in the championship picture mathematically heading into next weekend’s season finale at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
“The Freightliner Chevy all weekend has been fast,” McLaughlin said. “It’s been right there where we needed. This team – the Thirsty Threes – got the job done in the pits, and I’m really proud of them.
“We did exactly what we needed to do this weekend, which was win and get max points to keep ourselves in the championship fight. Yeah, we’re a long shot. I don’t care because we have a shot so I’m looking forward to it.”
Beginning at last week’s private test all the way through practice, qualifying and the race itself, nobody had an answer for Team Penske at PIR. The Captain’s organization put together what many like to call a “Penske Perfect” weekend in Oregon.
Along with McLaughlin, Roger Penske has two more drivers in the fight to possibly take home his 17th IndyCar title as a team owner. Will Power leaves Portland with a 20-point lead over teammate Josef Newgarden, who is second in the standings and tied with Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon.
“I just want to win this championship for the guys who have been with me for more than a decade like my engineer Dave (Faustino) and my data acquisition guy Robbie (Atkinson) and the group,” Power said. “It’s a lot less selfish for me this time around because they deserve it. I feel their pain over the years of losing so many. I’d love to win it for them.”
While Team Penske might be the championship favorite heading to Laguna Seca, Scott Dixon is ready to do Scott Dixon things and bring the ultimate prize back to the Chip Ganassi Racing shop. (Photo: James Black | Penske Entertainment)
After starting 16th, Dixon moved through the pack and ended up taking the final spot on the podium, giving himself a shot at becoming a seven-time champion.
“We’re still in the fight,” Dixon said. “Anything is possible. We’ve won on tiebreakers before. We’re in it, and we won’t ever give up as a team until it’s over.”
Another Ganassi driver, Marcus Ericsson, is fourth and 39 points back. McLaughlin is 41 points behind in fifth.
Seven drivers still had a mathematical chance of winning the championship entering Portland. However, two were eliminated after the race.
Last year’s IndyCar champion Alex Palou and Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward both saw their title hopes come to an end. O’Ward finished fourth but it wasn’t enough to keep his No. 5 Chevrolet in the fight heading into the final race weekend of the season.
“We had to come out with the win to truly have a decent shot at it (the championship) headed to Laguna,” O’Ward said. “We didn’t have enough for the Penske boys. All weekend they dominated everybody. I tried to make the pass on Will (Power) and we had an injured left side of the car for the rest of the race and had to nurse it from there.
“Graham (Rahal) was coming behind us pretty quick. We had to let (Scott) Dixon by because apparently, we blocked him. I expect IndyCar to make the same call whenever someone does that to me.”
The race went 84 laps until the first and only full-course caution of the day dropped for a collision involving Jimmie Johnson and Rinus VeeKay at the exit of the frontstretch prior to entering the right-hander at Turn 1.
VeeKay was attempting to overtake Johnson, wasn’t clear and stuffed the No. 48 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda into the outside wall. This ended Johnson’s race while VeeKay was given a drive-through penalty for avoidable contact.
After the race, VeeKay took responsibility and apologized to Johnson.
The 2022 NTT IndyCar Series season officially comes to a close on Sunday, Sept. 11, at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, with coverage on NBC kicking off at 3 p.m. ET.
Grand Prix of Portland Results
Based on the outcome next Sunday, there might be more celebrations to come from Team Penske. (Photo: Chris Owens | Penske Entertainment)
(3) Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske-Chevrolet, 110 Laps, Running
(12) Will Power, Team Penske-Chevrolet, -1.1792, Running
(9) Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda, -1.6006, Running
(5) Pato O'Ward, Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet, -13.8892, Running
(15) Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing-Honda, -14.8208, Running
(26) Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport w/Curb-Agajanian-Honda, -16.3039, Running
(27) Alexander Rossi, Andretti Autosport-Honda, -17.0044, Running
(2) Josef Newgarden, Team Penske-Chevrolet, -17.6062, Running
(77) Callum Ilott (R), Juncos Hollinger Racing-Chevrolet, -18.0978, Running
(7) Felix Rosenqvist, Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet, -18.6356, Running
(8) Marcus Ericsson, Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda, -23.5169, Running
(10) Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda, -27.5282, Running
(14) Kyle Kirkwood (R), AJ Foyt Racing-Chevrolet, -28.3322, Running
(18) David Malukas (R), Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsports-Honda, -29.0288, Running
(45) Jack Harvey, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing-Honda, -31.2329, Running
(29) Devlin DeFrancesco (R), Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport-Honda, -32.5754, Running
(06) Helio Castroneves, Meyer Shank Racing-Honda, -33.8121, Running
(51) Takuma Sato, Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing-Honda, -34.0885, Running
(28) Romain Grosjean, Andretti Autosport-Honda, -34.7299, Running
(21) Rinus VeeKay, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, -35.4454, Running
(30) Christian Lundgaard (R), Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing-Honda, -44.5500, Running
(4) Dalton Kellett, AJ Foyt Racing-Chevrolet, 1 Lap Down, Running
(60) Simon Pagenaud, Meyer Shank Racing-Honda, 10 Laps Down, Running
(48) Jimmie Johnson, Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda, 28 Laps Down, Contact
(20) Conor Daly, Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevrolet, 43 Laps Down, Mechanical