Indy Lights: Sowery collects maiden victory in Portland race 2

Indy Lights

.PORTLAND, Oregon – Toby Sowery claimed his maiden Indy Lights victory Sunday morning in race 2 of a doubleheader weekend at Portland International Raceway.

Starting the 35-lap event from the third position, Sowery made his way up to second when series point leader Oliver Askew overshot into Turn 1 and then made contact with David Malukas upon reentry to the racing surface.

The resulting contact brought out a caution, and on the race restart on Lap 4, Sowery passed leader Rinus VeeKay for the lead in the same corner.

Sowery held on to the lead for the remainder of the race despite a challenge from VeeKay in the remaining laps.

“You can see that VeeKay was really quick,” Sowery told NBC Sports following his victory. “But we had a different tire strategy, and the Cooper Tires done a fantastic job of keeping me in the race all the way to the end.

“Massive congratulations to the team. They deserved it.”

VeeKay finished second, while Oliver Askew made his way back up to third to complete the podium.

Askew now enters the final race weekend of the season with a 41-point lead in the standings, and only needs to start both races to be crowned the 2019 champion.

“I knew it wasn’t going to be over,” Askew said of his Lap 1 accident. “I wasn’t only fighting for a podium, I was fighting for the championship, and I think we clinched it there so it’s starting to soak in.

“This is what we’ve been working for all year, and I’m really proud of the whole team, myself and everyone around me that has put me in this position.  The emotions are starting to sink in now for sure.”

The Indy Lights championship now heads to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca for the final two races of the season on September 21 and 22. Both races will air live on NBC Sports Gold.

Click here for full race results

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Alex Palou wins Detroit Grand Prix from pole


DETROIT – Alex Palou won the IndyCar Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix from the pole, fending off several challenges and three late restarts during a chaotic debut for a new downtown track.

After qualifying first, Palou won by 1.1843 seconds in his No. 10 Dallara-Honda over Will Power, followed by Felix Rosenqvist, Scott Dixon and Alexander Rossi.

Kyle Kirkwood (who rebounded from falling to 26th in a massive shunt on the first lap) finished sixth, followed by Scott McLaughlin, Marcus Armstrong, Marcus Ericsson and Indy 500 winner Josef Newgarden to round out the top 10.

As expected, there was lots of action on the nine-turn, 1.645-mile layout that made its debut Sunday with seven caution flags chewing up 32 of 100 laps – and eliminating some contenders.

With 20 laps remaining, Romain Grosjean slammed the wall in Turn 4 while running seventh in his No. 28 Dallara-Honda, which had started third. He later attributed the problem to a suspension failure.

Pato O’Ward’s shot at a decent finish fell apart during a green-flag pit stop on Lap 35. The No. 5 Dallara-Chevy’s left rear wheel was loose as O’Ward left the stall, so he stopped to allow the crew to push him back.

He returned in 26th at the end of the lead lap but then slammed the wall in Turn 9 eight laps later after overshooting the corner.

“Honestly our race went upside down on that pit stop,” O’Ward said. “All downhill from there. It is what it is.”

The yellow flew again during the next restart on Lap 49 as Sting Ray Robb went into the tire barrier in Turn 3 while Christian Lundgaard and Santino Ferrucci (who was trying to fight back onto the lead lap) also were caught scrambling in traffic.

During the caution, Graham Rahal hit the Turn 1 wall and then was rear-ended by rookie Benjamin Pedersen.

“I got a lot of understeer,” Rahal said, struggling to process what had happened to lose control of his No. 15 Dallara-Honda. “It’s on me. I need to see the tape and understand. I’m just disappointed in myself with all the errors this weekend, just not driving well. It’s hard to figure out why, but ultimately it’s on me. I’ve got to perform a heck of a lot better than that, especially on a day like this.

“It’s just not typical of me. I know you’ve got to stay on the dance floor. I don’t know what to say. We weren’t good in the race. We were in pretty bad shape. It’s disappointing. I’ve got to be better. It’s been a really tough couple of months. We need a reset. I need a reset. We need to come back much, much stronger.”

The first incident occurred in the first corner as Callum Ilott rear-ended Kyle Kirkwood on the entry into the Turn 3 hairpin (starts and restarts for the race occurred on the longest straightaway off Turn 2).

Kirkwood, who was starting after clipping the wall in qualifying, was able to continue after pitting to change the rear wing of his No. 27 Dallara-Honda.

But Ilott’s day was over after failing to complete a lap.

“I didn’t have anywhere to really go, but it was my bad for kind of being a little bit on the late side,” the Juncos Hollinger Racing driver told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee. “I was gaining bit of time, and they just checked up a little bit more than I anticipated the last bit. I wasn’t coming with that much more speed, but I just couldn’t slow it down on the last part, so sorry to the team and sorry to Kyle cause that didn’t help him, either. On to the next one.”

After four consecutive weeks of racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and on the streets of Detroit, IndyCar will take a one-week break before returning June 18 at Road America.