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Portland home to several iconic IndyCar moments

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Portland International Raceway hosted races for what is now called the Verizon IndyCar Series every June between 1984 and 2007. And in that span of 24 races, it was the scene of quite a few iconic moments for the sport.

A quick list of highlights is below:

  • 1986: On Father’s Day, Michael Andretti runs out of fuel exiting the final corner, and his father Mario nips him at the line for the victory. The margin between them was .07 seconds, the closest road course finish in the history of IndyCar racing. Video of the finish can viewed here.
  • 1995: Team Penske’s Al Unser Jr. scored a victory, but was later disqualified after the car was deemed too low post-race, resulting from erosion of the car’s skidplate. However, after the conclusion of the season, Unser’s win was eventually reinstated, and Jimmy Vasser’s first career win taken away.
  • 1996: Alex Zanardi won his first race in IndyCar, in the series then known as the PPG IndyCar World Series. Zanardi was teammates at Target Chip Ganassi Racing with Vasser, who went on to win that year’s championship.
  • 1997: A wet race saw a titanic duel between tire suppliers Firestone and Goodyear, with Firestone holding the advantage for much of the race. However, as the track surface dried, several Goodyear runners rose to the fore, chiefly Gil de Ferran, then a driver for Walker Racing. In the final laps, however, the track dried enough for several teams to switch to slick tires. One of those drivers was Mark Blundell. Exiting the final corner on the final lap, Blundell and Pat Patrick Racing driver Raul Boesel got alongside de Ferran, and Blundell was able to nose ahead of both drivers at the line to take his first career IndyCar victory. The margin between the three was a scant .055 seconds. Video of the wild finish can be seen here.
  • 2006: A.J. Allmendinger had joined Forsythe Championship Racing the week prior after his previous team, RuSPORT, fired him. In his first outing with his new team, Allmendinger took the first of three consecutive wins that year. He went on to score five in total before joining Team Red Bull’s newly formed NASCAR team at year’s end.
  • 2007: What proved to be the final event at Portland before the IndyCar/Champ Car merger also saw the first standing start in modern American racing history. Sebastien Bourdais scored the victory that day, his second win at the venue following a 2004 triumph.

In total, Newman/Haas Racing was the most victorious IndyCar team at the track, taking eight wins between Mario Andretti, Michael Andretti, and Cristiano da Matta. Among active teams, Team Penske is the winningest, with five victories at the track. Chip Ganassi Racing (2) and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (1) have also previously won at Portland.

Of drivers who raced at least once in the 2017 IndyCar field, Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves, Graham Rahal, Will Power, Simon Pagenaud, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Tony Kanaan, Sebastien Bourdais, Juan Pablo Montoya, Oriol Servia and Buddy Lazier all made at least one start at Portland, and others raced there in junior series (James Hinchcliffe in Atlantic for example). Bourdais, who won in 2004 and 2007, is the only active winner scheduled to compete next season.

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F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.