Getty Images

Five things to watch for during Grand Prix of Portland

Leave a comment

Long one of its staples when the CART series sanctioned races, Portland International Raceway did not host a NTT IndyCar race until last year. That makes this race a bit of an unknown entity and adds some drama to the points battle between Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud (38 points behind) and Alexander Rossi (-46).

With the ovals in the rearview mirror, IndyCar heads to consecutive road courses to end the season the way it began: with twists and turns.

Here are some of the storylines to watch this Sunday:

  1. Last week’s victory for Takuma Sato on the oval must have felt like vindication after his involvement in the Lap 1 crash at Pocono. Coupled with his win at Barber Motorsports Park, it marks the first time in his IndyCar career that Sato has won two races in a season. It might not end there. Sato is also the defending winner of last year’s race at Portland.
  2. Scott Dixon’s retirement on Lap 136 cost him 18 points to the leader in a race that should have allowed him to make up ground if Newgarden stumbled ever so slightly. Dixon entered Gateway with top-fives in his last two starts there. Newgarden did his part with a modest seventh-place showing, but Dixon finished 20th in the 22-car field. With eight top-fives in 10 races on road and street courses, Dixon should rebound this week, but it may be too late now that he is 70 points behind.
  3. Still looking for his first win of the season, Sebastien Bourdais may have an advantage this week. Bourdais won twice on this track in 2004 and 2007 when it was sanctioned by CART.
  4. Graham Rahal’s mechanical issues at Gateway snapped an eight-race streak of top-10 finishes while Pagenaud’s fifth gives him the longest current active streak of seven. That fifth-place finish in the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 also kept Pagenaud’s perfect record of top-10s on ovals for the past two years intact.
  5. The short track of Gateway provided a shot of confidence for several drivers. In addition to Sato, who ended a seven-race skid of results outside the top five, Ed Carpenter’s second-place finish was his first top-five of the year. Tony Kanaan also earned his first top-five also with a third-place finish.

MORE: Simon Pagenaud feels no stress
MORE: Colton Herta rounds out Andretti Autosport’s 2020 plans

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter

WATCH: Red Bull F1 team completes pit stop in zero gravity

1 Comment

The Red Bull Racing pit crew may have already made headlines last weekend when it completed the fastest pit stop in Formula One history, changing Max Verstappen’s tires in 1.82 seconds, but the team’s most recent stunt took their skills to new heights – quite literally.

With the help of the Russian Space agency Roscomos, a group of the team’s mechanics completed the world’s first zero-gravity pit stop, on-board a IIyushin II-76K cosmonaut training plane.

Using a 2005 BR1, the team filmed the viral video over the course of a week, enduring seven flights and about 80 parabolas – periods in which the plane climbs 45 degrees before falling again at a ballistic arch of 45 degrees, creating a period of weightlessness for approximately 22 seconds.

With such a short time frame between weightlessness periods, the car and equipment had to be both quickly and safely secured before gravity once again took effect. Each filming lasted roughly 15 seconds, and the stunt was the most physically and technically demanding activity the live demo team had ever undertaken.

“It pushed us harder than I thought it would,” said Red Bull Support Team Mechanic Joe Robinson. “You realize how much you rely on gravity when you don’t have any!

“It challenges you to think and operate in a different way – and that was brilliant. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and honestly, I could have stayed and done it all month. It was amazing. I think it’s the coolest, most fun thing the Live Demo team has ever done with a show car.”

Though Red Bull was the first team to perform a pit stop in zero gravity, surprisingly Red Bull was not the first team to put a car through zero gravity. In 1999, McLaren driver David Coulthard and his car experienced zero gravity as part of a promotion for then-sponsor West Cigarettes.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter