TRACK: Portland International Raceway (1.967-mile, 12-turn road course), DISTANCE: 105 Laps (207 miles)
- 10 of the last 11 races at Portland have been won from a top 3 starter.
- 21 of the last 23 races here in Portland were won from a starter in the top 5 at that.
- Starting positions for natural road courses lately (since 2016) – 44 races (counting Barber, GMR Grand Prix, Road America, Mid-Ohio and Gallagher Grand Prix this year)
- 2016: 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st
- 2017: 7th, 1st, 5th, 2nd 1st, 3rd
- 2018: 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, 20th, 1st
- 2019: 4th, 1st, 8th, 2nd, 8th, 2nd, 1st
- 2020: 7th, 9th, 7th, 1st, 1st, 2nd, 1st
- 2021: 3rd, 7th, 5th, 1st, 2nd, 1st, 1st
- 2022: 2nd, 14th, 2nd, 2nd, 2nd
- That’s 42 of the last 44 coming from the top 10 (95%)
- That’s 21 of 44 from the pole (48%) and 30 of 44 from the front row (68%) including 8 of the last 9 (89%).
- Also, that’s 35 of 44 (80%) from the Fast Six including 14 of the last 16 (88%).
- Portland went dormant from 2008 through 2017 without INDYCAR before a return in 2018. They came back in 2019 but didn’t visit in 2020 due to COVID restrictions.
- Portland differs in the sense Turn 1 is crazy, the track layout evens things up and pit strategy in turn is key.
- There was one the last time out here in 2021 and again in 2019 with four cars that time around. There was a five car crash in Turn 1, Lap 1 of 2018. More times than not when CART/Champ Car came to the Pacific Northwest track, the same corner produced opening lap cautions.
- Once you get through the 1st corner on Lap 1, the race is one where fuel saving is crucial. With a shorter track but more laps available, finding a lap or two to save during a stint is beneficial for the final stint.
- The other factor is that Portland is a track that’s an equalizer. There’s long straights that give Chevrolet an advantage. There’s slower corners which help the Honda’s. That should have this more of an even playing field for the teams this weekend too.
TRACK COMPARISONS/WHO’S BEEN GOOD ON THEM
In 2020, Penske and Ganassi each won three times on these types of circuits including all three at IMS. Andretti Autosport won the other that year in Mid-Ohio.
In 2021, Ganassi won three times (Barber, Road America, Portland), Penske twice (Indy, Mid-Ohio), Ed Carpenter Racing once (Indy) and Andretti Autosport once (Laguna Seca) themselves.
So far this season, we’ve had five races on a natural road courses (Barber, Indy (twice), Road America and Mid-Ohio) with 5 different winners from 3 different organizations winning (AMSP, Andretti, Penske).
That’s 19 natural road course races during this Aeroscreen era with Penske winning 7 times, Ganassi 6, Andretti Autosport four times and ECR/AMSP once each.
Fast 6 Potential
- Alex Palou – He’s qualified 3rd, 2nd, 3rd, 7th and 7th on like tracks this season. He was on the pole here last year in his lone Portland start.
- Scott Dixon – He was 13th at Barber, 21st at Indy,10th in Road America, 5th in Mid-Ohio and 20th in the Indy return trip. Dixon has qualified 11th here in 2018 and 3rd the last two times out.
- Colton Herta – On like tracks, he was 10th, 14th, 5th, 3rd and 9th respectively. In Portland, he’s 2-for-2 in Fast Sixes with being 1st and 6th respectively here.
- Alexander Rossi – Has made the Fast 6 in 3 out of the 5 natural road courses this season. However, he also has 2 top 3 starting spots in 3 Portland tries including a worst start of 7th in 2019.
- Felix Rosenqvist – This may be your top sleeper. On natural road courses this year, he’s been 6th, 6th, 8th, 4th and 1st respectively. At Portland, Rosenqvist has 2 top 5 starts (5th, 4th) in 2 tries.
- Pato O’Ward – He’s made the Fast 6 in all 5 of the natural road courses this season (2nd, 5th, 6th, 1st, 3rd) and will be in the hunt again this weekend. O’Ward was 7th here last year.
Fringe Fast 6
- Will Power – He’s been up and down this year on these tracks. He was 19th at Barber, 15th at Road America and 21st in Mid-Ohio but also 1st and 4th in Indy. For Portland, he has a pole (2018) and second place (2019) and also a 14th place (2021) start too.
- Josef Newgarden – He’s qualified 7th, 3rd, 2nd, 14th and 5th on like tracks this year. He was on the front row here in 2018 (2nd) but also 13th and 18th respectively since.
- Scott McLaughlin – He qualified 4th in Barber, 11th in Indy, 9th in Road America, 2nd in Mid-Ohio and 15th in Indy 2. He was 15th here last year.
- Callum Ilott – These are his best tracks. Ilott was in Row 6 at Barber (11th) and Road America (12th) as well as 7th at Indy 1, 10th in Mid-Ohio and 19th in Indy 2. He was 19th here last year though.
- Christian Lundgaard – Another rookie but one that qualifies well on like tracks. He was 14th in Barber, 8th in Indy, 13th in Road America, 16th in Mid-Ohio and 6th in Indy 2. This car was in the Fast 12 (9th) here last season.
- Graham Rahal – He was 9th at Barber, 12th at the Indy GP, 22nd in Road America, 18th in Mid-Ohio and 17th in Indy 2. He has qualified in the Fast 12 here twice in 3 tries including being 5th last year.
Probably In The Middle
- Marcus Ericsson – He qualified 4th in Road America but was 12th, 18th and 13th in Barber, Indy, Mid-Ohio and 25th Indy 2 respectively during in the year too. Also, he was 10th here last year in his only Portland try.
- Romain Grosjean – He qualified 8th at Barber, 10th at Indy, 7th in Road America,17th in Mid-Ohio and 22nd in Indy again. He was only 21st here last year.
- David Malukas – He was 18th, 24th, 14th, 8th and 11th on like tracks. He’s an INDYCAR rookie here.
- Conor Daly –On like tracks this season, Daly has qualified 22nd (Barber), 4th (Indy RC), 18th (Road America), 22nd (Mid-Ohio) and 10th (Indy return trip). In his 2 Portland tries he’s qualified 9th and 16th respectively.
- Helio Castroneves – He was 16th, 19th, 16th, 15th and 16th on like tracks this season.
Simon Pagenaud – On like tracks this season, Pagenaud has qualified 24th, 20th, 11th, 6th and 12th respectively. He’s been eliminated in the 1st round in all 3 Portland tries (22nd, 18th, 23rd).
Rinus VeeKay – On like tracks this season was 1st, 15th, 17th, 11th and 8th respectively. He qualified 25th as a rookie here a year ago.
Jack Harvey – On the season, he was 15th in Barber, 9th at Indy, 20th in Road America, 24th at Mid-Ohio and 13th in Indy 2. For Portland, he’s qualified 13th, 4th and 20th respectively.
Takuma Sato – He has never made it out of the 1st round in 3 Portland qualifying tries with 2 of the 3 being 20th or worse.
Jimmie Johnson – He was 26th in Barber, 27th and 23rd in Indy, 26th at Road America and 27th at Mid-Ohio. He started 22nd in 2021.
Devlin DeFrancesco – He has qualified 20th 17th, 21st, 20th and 14th on like tracks this season.
Kyle Kirkwood – He started 21st, 22nd, 24th, 9th and 21st on like tracks this year.
Dalton Kellett – On the season, he was 23rd, 26th, 23rd, 23rd and 24th respectively on these types of tracks. He started 24th here last year.
Tatiana Calderon – On like tracks this year – 26th, 15th, 25th, 26th and respectively.
This is arguably his last chance right? He qualified on the pole and won last year. Palou has 2 runner-ups in 5 races on natural road courses in 2022.
He’s at his best out west. He was fourth here in 2019 and 8th last year. He also has 3 top 10’s and 2 top 5’s in 5 natural road course races run this year.
Rossi, was eighth in 2018, third in 2019 and runner-up last year. On like tracks this year, he’s finished 9th, 11th, 3rd, 19th and
Arrow McLaren SP
They should qualify well which means they’re up front when it matters the most. Felix Rosenqvist has finished 2nd and 6th in his 2 Portland starts. Pato O’Ward was 14th last year but that’s only because of strategy. He had a great car.
Ed Carpenter Racing
In 5 natural road course races run this year, ECR has had a car in the top 5 in 3 of them. While they’ve not had great Portland results in the past, never say never with them being towards the front this year.
Meyer Shank Racing
Jack Harvey came from 20th to finish 4th here last year for them. Simon Pagenaud inherited the car now and has a top 12 in all 5 natural road course races run this year including a runner-up back in May at Indy. He also has 2 top 7’s in 3 Portland starts despite starting from the back in both too. Both Pagenaud and Helio Castroneves had top 10’s in Mid-Ohio.
He finished 7th here last year and 3 top 6 results in his last 4 races on natural road courses this season.
He was 9th in Mid-Ohio and finished 1st and 2nd respectively here in Indy Lights last season. He enters on the heels of a podium in Gateway.
Maybe lighting will strike. Ilott has made the Fast 12 in all 5 natural road course starts and coming to one of the few tracks he’s been on last year. Worth a gamble.
Will Power won here in 2019 but was 21st and 13th in his other 2 starts. Josef Newgarden is 3-for-3 in top 10’s including two straight 5th place runs but 0-for-3 in podiums. Scott McLaughlin was 9th last year. They’re great fantasy plays but not necessarily for a win.
Graham Rahal had the field covered last year before an ill timed caution. This season they’re struggling for pace. While it’s since been improved, I wonder how much in terms or race winning pace. While Rahal has 3 top 8 finishes in 5 natural road course starts, he’s not had a top 5. Same can be said for Christian Lundgaard who’s had 3 top 11’s in his last 4 natural road course tries. Jack Havey was 4th here for MSR in 2021 but has no top 10’s in the same 5 races as his teammates this season. They likely won’t qualify good so would need cautions and strategy to go their way on Sunday. They’re better fantasy plays instead.
Odd to have a guy with 2 top 5’s in 3 Portland tries on here but he’s not finished better than 3rd here either and has struggled in qualifying this season which is why his best finish in 5 natural road courses in 2022 is 5th.
He’s had 2 top 7’s in 5 natural road course races run this year but also 2 finishes of 17th or worse too. He finished 22nd last year here as well.
While he won this race in 2018, he was 15th and 12th in his other 2 starts and has 3 finishes of 13th or worse in his 5 natural road course starts this season too.