PORTLAND, Ore — Following a two week break, the NTT IndyCar Series is back in action for the final three races of the 2021 season. The pursuit for the Astor Cup championship trophy heats up for Sunday’s Grand Prix of Portland (3 p.m. ET, NBC, INDYCAR Radio Network).
Race Day Schedule (PT Time)
11:35 pm: Cars To Grid
12:05 pm: Driver Intros
12:23 pm: Invocation
12:25 pm: National Anthem
12:26 pm: Drivers To Cars
12:35 pm: Command
12:42 pm: Green Flag
Coverage: 3 p.m. ET
Green Flag: 3:42 p.m. ET
Radio: INDYCAR Radio Network
Phone: INDYCAR App
Race Distance: 110 Laps/216.04 Miles
Race: 14 of 16
Track: Portland International Raceway
Who Will Win?
Well, the trends say anyone coming from the top 5 Rows on Saturday will end up celebrating in victory lane on Saturday afternoon. 77% (10-for-13) of the races this season were won by top 10 starters. Furthermore, 23 of the last 27 overall were won by top 10 starters in general. Also, among those 23 winners, 22 of them came from the top 4 Rows at that.
In respect to this track in general, 20 of the last 22 were won from a starter in the top 5.
So, lets wind this down to the top four rows then. That will leave Alex Palou, Alexander Rossi, Scott Dixon, Felix Rosenqvist, Graham Rahal, Colton Herta, Pato O’Ward and Ed Jones as the favorites to win.
From there, lets go further.
9 of the last 10 at Portland have been won from a top 3 starter. For natural road course races this season, the starters came from – 3rd (Barber), 7th (Indy 1), 5th (Road America), 1st (Mid-Ohio) and 2nd (Indy 2). Last year, it was 7th (Indy 1), 9th (Road America 1), 7th (Road America 2), 1st, (Mid-Ohio 1), 1st (Mid-Ohio 2), 2nd (Indy 2) and 1st (Indy 3).
That’s 12 straight from the top 10 with 4 of 5 this year as well as 8 of the last 9 overall from the top five.
That means we can really break this down to the top five starters for the win on Sunday. That’s great news for Palou, Rossi, Dixon, Roseqnvist and Rahal.
The pole winner has won just twice all year, once on a street course and the other in Mid-Ohio. The pole winner did triumph in three of the final five races last season though. Also, the pole winner has finished in the top three in 5 of the last 7 races on the season as well as 10 top four results in 13 starts during 2021 in general. If you go back to last year, the pole winner has a top five result in 14 of the last 18 races.
In respect to that, we can Sharpie the pole winner (Palou) in the top five on Saturday, but will he win? His previous two wins he started third (Barber) and fifth (Road America). Both from the inside of the rows, but none from the front row.
Plus, 4 of the top six in points accumulated on natural road courses all qualified in the top seven.
The next trend is, since the new car came out in 2018, the “Big 3” have won 49 of the 61 races run (80-percent). Penske has won 25 times with Ganassi (15) and Andretti (9). But, RLL is next best with four victories while no one else has more than two.
Throw in RLL and you get 53 of 61 races (87%) won by these teams. Also factor in Harding Steinbrenner Racing with the Andretti alliance and you get 51/61 (83%) and 55-for-61 (90%) in these factors.
Only other teams to win are Arrow McLaren SP (twice this year), Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (2018 at Iowa), Dale Coyne Racing (2018 – St. Pete), Ed Carpenter Racing (2021 – GMR Grand Prix) and Meyer Shank Racing (2021 – Indy 500).
Last year, Penske and Ganassi each won three times on these types of circuits including all three at IMS and then swept the podium in one of the races on them already this season at Barber. Ganassi then won in the the in Road America with Penske winning at Mid-Ohio and Indy after. Andretti Autosport won the other race last year while ECR won other one this year. Scott Dixon won twice in 2020 so did Will Power. Alex Palou has two wins this season in Barber and Road America.
If you go back to 2019, we’ve had 18 different races on natural road courses with 10 different winners. Power has four wins with Dixon and Herta at three wins a piece. Palou (2) and Newgarden (2) are the only other ones who has more than one.
Penske has seven wins on them. Ganassi has six. Andretti has scored four trips to victory lane on them too. RLL and ECR are the only other teams to have won a natural road course event since 2019 as it came at Barber (2019) and IMS (2021).
So really, we can break the top five starters and see who among them are with Penske, Ganassi and Andretti.
Finally, you get the stat that the last two winners in Portland were Indy 500 champions. Also, 21 of the 26 races here were won by drivers with a series championship to their name as well.
Who does that leave? I’ll take a Ganassi 1-2 finish for the 22nd time.
- 9 Dixon
- 10 Palou
- 15 Rahal
- 5 O’Ward
- 14 Bourdais