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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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Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.