IndyCar: GP of Portland announces three-year extension through 2023

Portland IndyCar extension
Joe Skibinski/IndyCar
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Grand Prix of Portland race organizers announced a three-year extension Friday with the city to continue playing host to the NTT IndyCar Series through the 2023 season.

IndyCar returned to the 12-turn, 1.964-mile road course last year after an 11-year absence. The Sept. 13, 2020 race at Portland was canceled because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

According to the release announcing the news, the 2021 date will be announced later this year. During a news conference Wednesday, Penske Entertainment CEO Mark Miles said IndyCar hopes to announce next year’s schedule by the end of September.

Here’s the release from the Grand Prix of Portland:

PORTLAND, Ore. (August 20, 2020) – After reaching a three-year extension to their current agreement, City of Portland and Green Savoree Portland LLC officials announced today that the Grand Prix of Portland will return to the Pacific Northwest and Portland International Raceway (PIR) through at least 2023.

The 2021 date for the Grand Prix of Portland at PIR will be announced by the NTT INDYCAR SERIES later this year. The event was canceled this year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and Oregon’s statewide restrictions on public gatherings.

“I was fortunate as a teenager to attend the Indy 500,” says Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. “I remember the excitement then and we saw the same energy at the 2018 and 2019 Grand Prix of Portland races. As the only event of its kind in the Pacific Northwest, the race not only provides tremendous thrills but also contributes $12-$15 million in economic benefits for the city. I’m excited to see this premier race in Portland for at least the next three years.”

“We are very pleased to have ‘Portland’s Fastest Park’, the Portland International Raceway, hosting the Grand Prix of Portland NTT IndyCar Series race for three additional years,” says Portland Parks & Recreation Director Adena Long. “The Grand Prix has established itself as a summer tradition as Portlanders enjoy the festival atmosphere, the cars, and camaraderie. We look to 2021 through 2023 with great anticipation.”

“We’re disappointed to not be able to bring IndyCar racing back to the great fans in the Pacific Northwest later this summer, but our team is excited to be back in 2021 and beyond through this continued partnership with the City of Portland and the Portland Parks & Recreation division,” said Kim Green, co-owner, chairman and CEO of Green Savoree Racing Promotions, organizers of the Grand Prix of Portland. “We appreciate Mayor Wheeler, the commissioners, Director Long, E.C. (Mueller) and the entire PIR team for their ongoing support of the Grand Prix of Portland, and working with us to make the Grand Prix of Portland even better when it returns next year.”

Ticket purchasers on file for the 2020 event will receive a direct communication from Green Savoree Portland LLC soon on their available options. Ongoing Grand Prix of Portland updates will be posted to portlandgp.com. Race fans can also stay up to speed on the event via social media by following #PortlandGP.

Meyer Shank Racing wins Petit Le Mans to take final DPi championship in dramatic finale

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Meyer Shank Racing outdueled Wayne Taylor Racing to win the Petit Le Mans and clinch the championship in a thrilling final race for the DPi division.

Tom Blomqvist, who started from the pole position, drove the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 to a 4.369-second victory over Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac.

“That was incredible,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports’ Matt Yocum. “I’ve never dug so deep in my life. The adrenaline. I did that for the guys. I was so motivated to win this thing this weekend. But I’ve got to thank everyone on the whole team.”

With co-drivers Oliver Jarvis and Helio Castroneves, Blomqvist helped MSR bookend its season-opening victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona by winning Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Michelin Road Atlanta.

In between those two victories, the No. 60 earned five runner-up finishes to stay in the thick of the championship hunt and trail WTR’s No. 10 Acura by 14 points entering Saturday’s race.

WTR’s Filipe Albuquerque had a lead of more than 10 seconds over Blomqvist with less than 50 minutes remaining in the 10-hour race.

But a Turn 1 crash between the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs brought out a yellow that sent both Acuras into the pits from the top two positions.

Though he entered in second, Blomqvist barely beat Albuquerque out of the pits, and he held the lead for the final 45 minutes.

Blomqvist said he gained the lead because of a shorter fuel fill after he had worked on being efficient in the second-to-last stint.

“The team asked a big job of me with the fuel; I had a big fuel number to hit,” Blomqvist said. “We knew that was probably our only chance. The yellow came at the right time and obviously we had a bit less fuel to fill up, so I was able to jump him and then it was just a matter of going gung-ho and not leaving anything on the line. And obviously, the opposition had to try too hard to make it work. I’m so thankful.”

Albuquerque closed within a few car lengths of Blomqvist with 14 minutes remaining, but he damaged his suspension because of contact with a GT car in Turn 1.

It’s the first prototype championship for Meyer Shank Racing, which also won the 2021 Indy 500 with Castroneves.

“We’ve had in the last four years, three championships for Acura, the Indy 500 win and the Rolex 24, it doesn’t get any better,” team co-owner Mike Shank told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee.

It’s the third consecutive runner-up finish in the points standings for Wayne Taylor Racing, which won the first Daytona Prototype international championship in 2017. The premier category will be rebranded as the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with the LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Kamui Kobayashi finished third in the No. 48 Cadillac of Action Express that also includes Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.

The podium showing marked Johnson’s last scheduled race in IMSA’s top prototype division. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has raced in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac lineup as the Action Express entry has run the Endurance Cup races.

Johnson said a lack of inventory will preclude him having a 2023 ride in the top category. But he still is hopeful of racing the Garage 56 Next Gen Camaro in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and possibly running in a lower class for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I’d love to be at Le Mans next year,” Johnson told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch after his final stint Saturday. “I’d love to be at the Rolex 24. The series is going through a shake-up with the reconfiguration of the rules and classes, so I don’t have anything locked down yet, but I’m so thankful for this experience with Action. The support Ally has given us, Mr. Hendrick, Chad Knaus, all of Hendrick Motorsports. It’s been a fun two years, and I certainly hope I’m on the grid again next year.”