What Drivers Are Saying about this weekend’s Grand Prix of Portland

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Here’s What Drivers Are Saying about this weekend’s return to Portland International Raceway for the Grand Prix of Portland:

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “Gateway was a really tough race. We really gave it our all but came up short. We’re moving on from that and focusing 100 percent on getting every point we can. From here on out, it’s important that we get maximum points, and hopefully wins. I’m excited to go to Portland since I’ve never raced there before. It seems like a really cool town and a great track. There’s so much excitement around INDYCAR’s return there and I’m happy to be part of that. The No. 1 Verizon Chevy team started working on turning around our car for Portland on Sunday, so they barely took a minute off, making sure we have a strong car this weekend. We have a great group of guys, and with them behind me, I know we can definitely continue to battle for the championship.”

MATHEUS “MATT” LEIST (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “I’m pretty excited for Portland and hopefully we will have a great weekend for the AJ Foyt/ABC Supply team. I’ve never been there and INDYCAR is going back after 10 years, so I think it is going to be an interesting race. Luckily, we have the open test day on Thursday so we can figure out and develop the setup for the track since we’ve been struggling with the permanent road courses the past couple races. I’m glad we’ll have more track time. I’m pretty pumped to be going back to the road courses and definitely looking forward to the last two races on the calendar.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Electronics SPM Honda): “Our weekend at Gateway was not what this team is capable of, so I’m glad to put that behind us, put our heads down and focus on these next two races. It’s been 11 years since I raced at Portland, and I’ve been on the podium there three times, so you could say it’s a track I enjoy. I’m looking forward to revisiting Portland and hopefully putting the Arrow Electronics car on the top step of the podium.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “We have two races to go now and the points battle is tight, which is what you’ve come to expect in the Verizon IndyCar Series. I enjoy racing everybody in the field, and it’s always tough when it comes down to the wire. Everybody at this level is extremely competitive, and you do everything you can to try and get a race win. It’s no different week in, week out. It’s been quite a while, but I’m looking forward to Portland this weekend. The goal is to get the PNC Bank car up front and win. You still need as many points as possible with Sonoma being double points. Anything can happen in this series and it usually does.”

ED JONES (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “I thought we had a decent pace in St. Louis last weekend, and if we had run qualifying, we would have been in the top five all race with the NTT DATA car. It was not a bad result for us considering we started 12th, but for sure I think there was more in the car. Now we turn our focus back to the road courses for the final two races of the season. I think Portland will be a great place for us. I know Indy cars have a long history there as well and I’ll be happy to see that tradition returning for the sport.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “That race at Gateway was just awesome. It was obviously a huge win for myself and the No. 12 Verizon Chevy team as it moved us up in championship points. It really shows the depth of our team. We didn’t have the best of practices leading up to the race, but we worked hard overnight and it paid off. It also gives us a lot of momentum headed into Portland. I’ve only raced there once, but from what I remember it was a really awesome track. There’s so much for fans and people in the industry to do there. My team has been working hard on the car since Sunday to make sure we’re in a really good spot for this weekend. There’s a lot of competition between myself, Scott Dixon, Alexander Rossi and my teammate Josef Newgarden, so I know getting more championship points and wins won’t be easy, but with my team getting just stronger and stronger every week, I know we’re really going to be able to run hard and give it all we’ve got.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “I’m glad that we’re going back to Portland this weekend where I haven’t been since 2002. I believe that INDYCAR is doing the right thing getting some of the old-school tracks back in the schedule and adding Portland this year shows that. Portland is a fast, flat and technical road course. It’s good we’re having an extra test day on Thursday, and hopefully, the No. 14 ABC Supply machine will have a smooth weekend.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Mi-Jack Honda): “I’m excited to go back to Portland. It’s a great venue that has held a lot of historic Indy car races. It’s a place that I grew up going to and really enjoyed with my dad. For me, that region has a lot of importance in my career. Getting my first (Pro) Mazda win comes to mind as does getting the pole in Formula Atlantic before getting hit in the first corner. I actually got my first national victory there in a go-kart race – which was big for me – at Pat’s Acres, which is just southeast of town. PIR and the Portland area, in general, hold a special place in my career. I have a lot of fond memories so I’m excited to go back to race. When I went back for the announcement, I got to see the track. The layout is slightly different, but in essence, it’s very similar to what it originally was. There are definitely some wider corners leading on to the back straight that could open up some passing opportunities if people are feeling feisty. It will be interesting to see how that plays out. It’s great for Indy car fans in the Pacific Northwest. We have not been there in a long time and there is really not a lot of racing in the Pacific Northwest so this is a really, really key event for the region. I know there are a lot of people that are very excited. I had a lot of people comment about how excited they were for our return when I was at the NHRA event in Seattle. The test is huge for us. I think it’s going to be big to just get our bearings straight. We’ve got two races left in the season and we’ve got to get a win. We have to. Definitely having the test day is a great opportunity.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 Team Gorilla Automotive Products Honda): “I am looking forward to going back to Portland. The track is challenging, the fans are knowledgeable and the atmosphere at the track was always fun. I’ve had some success there, and I guess I am the longest defending champion ever since I won the last time we raced there in 2007. Qualifying, as it is on any road course, will be important. Fortunately, we get to test there on Thursday so that is good. I’m just looking forward to getting back on a road course and hopefully having a good race for our sponsor Gorilla Automotive Products.”

PIETRO FITTIPALDI (No. 19 Paysafe Honda): “We’ll be back on a road course this weekend at Portland, so I’ll be using my left leg much more again. The bone isn’t 100 percent healed yet. It’s still a little bit broken, but it’s going to be much better than at Mid-Ohio when I first came back. We have a test day on Thursday, which will be a learning day for everyone since the Indy cars haven’t raced there in a while. We’re looking forward to a good week. I’ve always loved road course racing as much as oval racing, so we’ll try and do our best in Portland to have another great race. In preparation for this weekend, I’ve been watching a lot of onboard videos of quick laps and race videos to see what strategy is like, passing points and things like that. It’s important to try and get as many references on the track beforehand so that we can be quick on the first run out.”

JORDAN KING (No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “Portland on the simulator seemed pretty cool. We won’t really get a gauge for how it is until we get there, but it seems like it will be good fun and quite fast. It’s a new challenge for everyone because no one has been there for a long time. Hopefully, that levels the playing field a little bit. I am very much looking forward to getting back in the car and trying to win a couple of races.”

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “Portland is a race I’ve been looking forward to all year. I’ve heard great things about the track and the city, so I’m looking forward to heading out there for the first time. We’re coming off a solid race at Gateway, hopefully, we can keep the momentum going for the No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka team and finish the season off strong.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): “I’ve been looking forward to going back to Portland since they announced the race last year. I’ve only raced there once but it’s a really cool track, in a neat area that doesn’t have a lot of racing throughout the year. We’ve had some good momentum and also the fastest crew on pit lane in the past few races, and we’re still in the championship hunt so myself and the entire No. 22 Menards Chevy team are really going to give it our all this weekend. We have a lot of interesting items to test at the track this weekend and I’m really excited to go out there and try to grab a win.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet): “I’m looking forward to my first race weekend in Portland. Without testing, of course, there are some unknowns, but the No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet team has been solid right out of the box at the road courses so far this season. I’m hoping that will translate again this weekend. Last Saturday’s race proved that this team will keep working to get it right and finish strong, and the Grand Prix of Portland will be no different.”

ZACH VEACH (No. 26 Group 1001 Honda): “We’ve really been coming into our own these past four events and I’m feeling more and more confident every day. I’m excited to get to Portland and keep this streak of top-10s going and fighting to get on the podium before the season is over.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda): “I can’t wait to get to Portland this weekend. Going to a new venue is incredibly exciting and shows the growth of the Verizon IndyCar Series. We have two to go and we are looking for a win for the NAPA team.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “I’m looking forward to racing back at Portland again. I think there are only a handful of us who have raced the track before, but I’m excited that it’s back on the schedule. We’ve had a bit of bad luck the past couple races, but hopefully we can turn that around this weekend and bring home a solid finish for the DHL team.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Honda): “Going to a new event is always interesting and exciting. On the technical side, we will get the data from the engineers and information on the characteristics and discuss the setup to prepare for the event. Personally, I think the area is one of the most beautiful. The Portland track looks like it has a great history of races. I’ve never been there but I am excited to go. It’s a bit too early to say how competitive we will be, but we will try to make the most of it. We have been competitive at some of the road courses, and at some, we were not as much and we’re not sure why. In recent road course races, we have been competitive so hopefully we can find a good balance at the test on Thursday to go into the official weekend. The open test is extremely important for us. We haven’t been able to do a lot of testing this year due to the limitations. The last time we had a successful test was at Road America and we had a very strong weekend there. Once we have had a good test to collect very valuable data, the team can quickly analyze it and then that will be a huge help before we start the official event.”

ALFONSO CELIS JR. (No. 32 Juncos Racing Chevrolet): “I am very excited for Portland and my second Verizon IndyCar Series race. I am in a much better situation in comparison to Road America earlier this summer. I understand the series, the car and the team now, so I am confident we will have a great week. I also did some simulator work and I kind of know what to expect. It will be nice to have some more track time with the open test on Thursday. We will work hard and I am sure we will have a good weekend.”

SANTINO FERRUCCI (No. 39 Cly-Del Honda): ” I’m super excited to be heading to Portland this week and to be getting back behind the wheel of an Indy car with the support from Cly-Del Manufacturing. I’ve been watching the past three INDYCAR races alongside Dale (Coyne) and the team, trying to learn as much as I can, learning what to expect and to have a better understanding of what I can do for the team for the next two races. I’m ready to get back racing. I’ve been watching videos and trying to learn as much as I can about the track before our test day on Thursday, but nothing beats actual track time so I’m really looking forward to being on track this week.”

MAX CHILTON (No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet): “It’s been a rather long stretch for us with three race weekends in a row, but I’m excited to get out on track at Portland International Raceway. Road and street courses are definitely my strong point and we’ve shown a lot of bright spots as a team throughout the season on those types of tracks, so hopefully, we can keep that momentum going this weekend and into the finale in Sonoma. We haven’t tested at Portland, but I think there are going to be a lot more drivers and teams starting on the same level of us in terms of data and experience, so hopefully it won’t be as big of a learning curve as a lot of the tracks have been for us so far this season.”

JACK HARVEY (No. 60 AutoNation SiriusXM MSR with SPM Honda): “I am really looking forward to going to Portland. I think because it hasn’t been on the schedule for so many years, it will level out the field a bit. I’ve been practicing a little bit on the simulator and watching some old races on YouTube which has been fun, but it’s mainly to get a sense of the sequence of corners. I’m really looking forward to both Portland and Sonoma just because they are so close to one another and hopefully it can get us in a good rhythm. Portland just has such a great atmosphere and it was cool going there last week for the INDYCAR media tour and to see the track first hand.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 98 MilitaryToMotosports.com / Curb Honda): “I’m excited to run an Indy car at Portland. I raced the track in Formula Renault and collected some wins. Hopefully, we can follow the same path this weekend and bring home the MilitaryToMotorsports.com team a win.”

NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E and Ian James set to race ahead of electric motorsports’ curve

James McLaren Formula E
McLaren Racing

As Formula E enters their ninth season and McLaren Racing is set to compete in last year’s championship winning car, Ian James is passionate about pushing electric motorsports forward at a critical stage as race technology begins surpassing that of the street cars.

Midseason, McLaren acquired the assets of the Mercedes-EQ team as they were already on their way to winning a second consecutive championship. With those assets in place and coming off a successful debut in the Extreme E series, James is set to usher in a new era in electric car racing.

Last week’s announcement that Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast behind the wheel of the NEOM McLaren Formula E team was the last piece of the puzzle.

McLaren’s electric portfolio is building with the Formula E team coming one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour. There were a lot of lessons to learn in that series with growing pains during the first three of five rounds. Rounds 4 and 5 were a completely different matter with the team crossing the finish line first in Chile before being assessed a time penalty.

In the final round in Uruguay, they scored an elusive podium.

“McLaren kicked off the season in Extreme E at the beginning of this year, so our first [electric] race took place Neom, actually out in Saudi,” NEOM McLaren Racing Team Principal James told NBC Sports. “At the time, we were in very early discussions about opportunities with the Formula E team. I actually went out there to meet with Zak [Brown, CEO McLaren Racing] and that was my first taste of Extreme E.

“Since the transition, I joined them in Chile in Atacama Desert, and then Uruguay last weekend. [The second-place finish was] a lovely way to round out the season. The fact that they got that podium. It was very well deserved. It’s a great team and a great series actually. It’s just so very different from anything else. The team’s done a great job in getting set up, and it’s nice now to, we’re trying to use that momentum that we’ve got from Uruguay to get us into next season when it kicks off next year, which will be great. I think we’re mid-March is looking like the first race, so a little bit of time to get things prepped for that.”


James McLaren Formula E
The NEOM Mclaren Racing Formula E team was created through the acquisition of last year’s championship car from Mercedes-EQ. – McLaren Racing

Synergies exist between the single seater and rally series. Lessons learned about battery power and sustainability in the electric SUV carry over so long as one is mindful of keeping focus on the individual needs and nuances of each series.

Especially now that electric racing technology has caught up, and is ready to surpass, the existing technology that has gone into building street cars.

When internal combustion engines gained the upper hand soon after automobiles were invented, racing paced alongside. The pressure of competition pushed the development of their commercial equivalents. The same has not necessarily been true of electric cars. Street cars were not designed to undergo the same stress as racecars – and that vulnerability showed up on the racetrack.

“Formula E has come along a long way,” James said. “I think one of the most notable developments is in the battery technology. In Gen 1, you had the drivers jumping from one car to another car midrace because the battery technology and capacity simply wasn’t where it needed to be to do the full distance. That obviously changed in Gen 2 and we saw a power increase as well to the 250 kilowatts.

“Now going to Gen 3, we have 350 kilowatts in a smaller battery. But that means that we’re relying on the regeneration of energy and for that reason, we’ve got also the opportunity to regenerate on the front axle as well as the rear axle now. So, there’s all sorts of things that are developing in the right direction.

“In terms of throttle response, actually, we’re now in a situation with electric racing and the motors that it’s instantaneous. And one of the advantages of electric over combustion engine is that the torque is instantaneous as well, so that gives you a lot more room to play with.”

No matter the power source, racing has always been about resource management. Drivers and teams select tire strategies they believe produce the fastest elapsed time and fuel conservation comes into play.

On one hand, electric racing is the same, but there is a critical difference. With the battery as both the power source and an integral part of the engine, there are multiple reasons to manage it.

In electric racing, the brain of the car is the software – and that is where James sees the greatest room for advancement.

“As we are working with our drivers and engineers – and start to look at functionality to improve our efficiency and our performance, that’s something we’ll continue to push because that development is open throughout the season,” James said. “That’s going to be our focus going forward and provides enough of a challenge for us to get our teeth into.

“What’s going to be fascinating is as Formula E continues, is to really look at which areas of development on the car are going to be the most relevant and ensuring that we can focus on those together with the manufacturers so we continue and use the series as a platform for technical development that can then feed back into the road car side of things as well.

“At the end of the day, that’s what motorsports always been, a very powerful tool for, and I see Formula E as no exception.”

James McLaren Formula E
Jake Hughes and Rene Rast were chosen for their ability to drive fast and execute the necessary strategy for energy management. – McLaren Racing

Selecting Rast and Hughes as McLaren’s Formula E drivers was not simply because they know how to drive fast. James believes both drivers have the mental aptitude to execute energy management strategies throughout the race and squeeze maximum performance.

“As with many other motorsports, you’ve got a certain amount of energy that you’re able to deploy during the race and the management of that energy is absolutely crucial,” James said. “What we’re seeing typically in electric motorsports now is the hardware side of things. The efficiencies that we’re seeing in the powertrain as a whole, they’re getting up to the sort of 96%, 97%, 98% efficiency, so the gains that you get through that further and further become more marginal.”

With much more room for improvement, software is a different matter. To make the best decisions, the drivers need data, and that is where James believes McLaren Formula E will make their greatest impact.

“And then you really switch that focus to the software and that’s where you’re going to see the most the most improvement and the most gains,” James continued. “It’s then using that software to ensure that you’re deploying the energy in the most efficient manner during race, and thereby giving the driver the most performance. And that’s something which is incredibly complicated, but I find it a fascinating area to work in.

“The benefit of being involved in racing is you can really push the envelope in a way that you can’t do on road cars. And I think that that’s where that value comes in. It means that you accelerate the development a lot quicker. We will get ahead of the curve – and we are getting ahead of the curve now – and that will mean that the electric motorsports remain part of the overall development process.

“The key to that is also making sure that the racing’s exciting and fun for the fans. If we can, we can tick both of those boxes, then it’s got a very bright future ahead of it.”