Scott McLaughlin wins Portland; Will Power second, increases points lead entering finale

11 Comments

PORTLAND, Oregon — Scott McLaughlin led a Team Penske rout Sunday at Portland International Raceway, scoring his third victory of the season in a 1-2 finish that moved Will Power one race closer to the NTT IndyCar Series championship.

McLaughlin led 104 of the 110 laps in his third career victory. He trails only Penske teammate Josef Newgarden (five) in most series wins, but an inconsistent season has the New Zealander clinging to a title chance.

McLaughlin goes to the Sunday, Sept. 11 season finale at WeatherTech Laguna Seca Raceway in California ranked fifth in the standings, 41 points behind Power but still mathematically in the hunt.

RESULTS: Where everyone finished at Portland

FULL STATS PACKAGE: Points standings, lap charts, sector times

“We did exactly what we needed to do this weekend, which was win and get maximum points,” McLaughlin told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee. “We need to keep ourselves in it, and we’re a long shot, but we’ve got a shot.”

Power, meanwhile, had a relatively easy drive but never enough to challenge McLaughlin for the win.

In settling for second, he takes a 20-point lead into the finale over both Newgarden and six-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon.

“We’re in the best position, we’ve got the best shot, we’ll do the best we can,” said Power, who can clinch the championship by finishing third or better at Laguna Seca.

Dixon finished third but gained no ground in the title fight; Newgarden dropped from fourth on the restart with 22 laps remaining to finish eighth and lose 17 points to Power in the Penske championship battle.

“We’ve got to stop getting these ‘most improved’ through races,” Dixon, who started 16th, told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch. “Man, we had to drive through the field today. Still in the fight. Anything is possible. We’ve won on tiebreakers. We’re in it and won’t give up as a team until it’s over.”

The three Penske entries were the class of the field in Portland, where the team used its final test of the season to prepare for Sunday. The trio was fast in every session and had a clear advantage over Chip Ganassi Racing, which chose to use its final test at Laguna Seca in anticipation of the finale.

Ganassi had Dixon, Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson and reigning IndyCar champion Alex Palou in the title hunt, but only Palou had a decent qualifying effort. Dixon and Ericsson failed to advance out of the first qualifying group, and Ericsson rallied only to 11th. The Swede is 39 points behind Power, fourth in the standings.

Although Palou finished 12th, and Pato O’Ward was fourth, both were eliminated from title contention.

“We had one chance today; we had to come out with the win to truly have a decent shot at it in Laguna,” O’Ward said. “I didn’t have enough for the Penske boys, man. All weekend, they dominated everybody. Not just us.”

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
0 Comments

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III