Friday, September 17, 2021

IndyCar West Coast Wrap: Portland

Like Ain’t Everyone still ah-Talkin’ about that Crazy Race in the Rose City?


Obviously Y’all know that IndyCar has commenced it’s final three races with it’s West coast Swing beginning at Portland International Raceway on September 12th, a track I know very well from spending copious amounts ‘O time at over two decades during the CART/Champ Car era. For which a tiny part of Mwah still wishes I was attending…


Arse-sumedely’, it had been gone over Ad Nausea that Arrow McLaren SP’s (AMSP) Patricio Pato’ O’Ward led the Championship with 435 points, 10 ahead of Chip Ganassi Racing’s (CGR) Alex Palou, who’s had dreadful luck the previous two races. Third in the title fight was Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden 22 points behind, whilst CGR team-mates Scott Dixon and Marcus Ericsson were 43 and 60 points adrift respectively, which seem the most likely candidates to win the championship entering the Portland weekend.


Saturday Highlights

Will try not digressing about having to wait until 8:30PM Pacific to “Watch,” Err listen to 43 Glow In the Dark $19.95 Heli’ Commercials and the Delayed, Canned Qualifying TV coverage. Oh wwait, is Thar some Roundy round race at Bristol coming up next week? As it’s Uber Annoying having to go “Dark” waiting All Freakin’ Day!  Uhm, Aren’t we Doin’ that again this weekend? Oops, think I got that outta my system, Eh?


Saturday’s first Practice session involved three Red flag periods and the Top 9 being just 0.2 seconds apart. As Alex Palou finished P1 with a surprising Helio Castroneves and Jack Harvey P2-3 respectively. Pato O’Ward and Josef Newgarden were fourth-fifth, while Will Power was seventh. With Scott Dixon 11th and Marcus ericsson 14th.


Alexander Rossi led Andretti Autosport’s charge in eighth, with team-mate Colton Herta ninth. Both being Pipped by Coyne-Ware Racing’s Rookie Romain Grosjean in sixth, with Rookie Of the Year Points leader Scott McLaughlin P12.


Graham Rahal led the way for RLLR in 10th, with new #45 team-mate Oliver Askew ending up P16.


Amazingly, Jimmie Johnson who wound up 20th, finished ahead of Conor Daly, (21st) Simon Pagenaud (23rd) and five places ahead of Dalton Kellett!


While IndyCar Debutante Callum Ilott “Cruised” home for Juncos Hollinger Racing P24. Rinus VeeKay (17th) will get a 6-place Grid penalty for an engine change, and possibly ditto for Takuma Sato, who ground to a Halt early on. Whilst once again, the dreaded Cartoon Anvil Hit Ryan Hunter-Reay Yuhs Know Where! With a reported wiring loom issue curtailing his practice.


As Sato took an unapproved engine change and garnered a 6-place Grid penalty, with Hunter-Reay also expected to and thus, look for VeeKay, Sato and Hunter-Reay rolling off P25-27 respectively.



Yeah, I know that if you’re watching TV then it’s Arse-sumed You can See the Bloody screen! And the various Graphics, Hence the lack of true Verbal information on who’s in the respective Qualifying Groups or who gets shuffled out, leaves your Blind Word Butcher in Ye Dark, literally!


Thus All that came across during the first group was how Pato O’Ward had a really loose racecar with massive rear-end Drift and barely clawed his way forward by just surviving in sixth! With Leigh Diffey calling him the Ninja when going to commercial break and saying look at those Hands!


Group 2 also seemed a blur, other than Alex Palou began to stamp his authority on Qualie’ by being P1 in this group which saw Josef Newgarden failing to advance. As I loved the interview afterwards where the Team Penske driver was completely Baffled over his lack of speed and qualifying 18th!


Oh Yeah, think it was Group 1? Where afterwards they showed Romain Grosjean’s apparent infraction of holding up his Rookie Of the Year opponent Scott McLaughlin to which the typically blunt Paul Tracy said he didn’t think it was a penalty, even though Romain was given one, especially since McLaughlin actually got “Blocked” twice by two different cars, the other being Oliver Askew who didn’t get a penalty…


Conor Daly admitted making a mistake on his final lap and wryly noted starting in the back with Newgarden, Power and Uhm? They’re All trustworthy Guys to be around who won’t do something stupid, so we should be Ok.


For which the other “big Name” must be Castroneves, (17th) since Power was the Quickest Penske in 14th with McLaughlin behind him on Row 8 in 15th with Daly P16.


IndyCar Rookie Callum Ilott will start a respectable 19th with Jack Harvey alongside in 20th, while Grosjean who lost his fastest two laps rolls off P21, directly behind Ilott.


Then the biggest news of the Top 12 round had to be O’Ward  getting knocked out by his AMSP team-mate Felix Rosenqvist by some scant 0.013 seconds! With the Swede advancing and Pato finishing P7. Also impressively, Graham Rahal made it to his first Fast 6 Shootout appearance of the year, but once again it was Palou on top.


Have to say I was rootin’ for Alexander Rossi to take Pole, but Silly Me, Palou Owned the Day and captured his Debutante IndyCar Pole with Rossi second. Dixon took a quiet third with Rosenqvist fourth. And Rahal was P5 while Colton Herta’s gamble as the only car on the primary Black Firestone’s backfired as he ended up sixth.


Oh Yeah, shoutout to Oliver Askew who put the #45 RLLR entry ninth on his debut for the team, while Marcus ericsson will start alongside him him 10th.


 Race Day…

This simply has to be the most Insane race of the year! As I cannot ever remember a Start at Portland where the first two rows go Offtrack and Miss the first turn! Having to go thru the Chicane’s Runoff area whilst Pato O’Ward who’s starting seventh becomes the race’s leader! Whilst Romain Grosjean earned Racer’s Marshall Pruett’s “Golden bowling Ball Award” with a Direct Strike! As the Frenchman was described being like a Torpedo by Castroneves and James Hinchcliffe, who’s had even worse luck than Andretti team-mate Ryan Hunter-Reay, said Grosjean’s Turn 1 Shenanigans were Comical!


And at one point with the IndyCar Race Stewards throwing the Hammer down upon the first four starters, O’Ward was suddenly leading the Championship by 48 points, Aye Karumba!


As Pole sitter Alex Palou, Second place Alexander Rossi, Third place Scott Dixon and Felix Rosenqvist in P4; Instigator of the Blown First Turn when Nudging Dixon, were All sent to the back of the Grid in positions 16th thru 20th, WTF! Although little did we know how this would benefit them eventually…


O’Ward led for awhile before Graham Rahal in second performed the Overcut on O’Ward and then comfortably settled into the lead. But it was all for nought, as a Full course Caution for two cars stranded Ontrack, i.e.; Callum Ilott and Dalton Kellett brought out the first of multiple Yellow Flag periods, for which O’Ward seemingly got Hosed by.


And I still don’t completely understand how they did it? But Pole sitter Palou who’d been sent back to P16 or whatever managed to cycle his way to the front by having pitted on lap 9. Having switched to a three stop strategy during the race’s first 11 laps being run under Caution, as IndyCar Officials scrambled to reset the order correctly, not going Green until lap 11, Say What?


And even though Alexander Rossi had two restarts to try passing Palou, he simply couldn’t get the job done, as Palou held off Rossi and the rest of the field to score his third win of the season! And in doing so see a 35 point swing in his favour, and now leads O’Ward  by 25 points heading to Laguna Seca, who had dreadful luck and finished a lowly 14th.


Scott Dixon finished third, now 49 points behind. As remarkably, the Top 3 starters finish in their same positions, which seemed impossible after lap 1! While Rossi had to be disappointed finishing second! Although it’s his first podium of the season, and do I Dare “Curse” Him by saying He’ll win Long Beach…


Josef Newgarden salvaged a 5th place finish from starting P18 and now sits 34 points adrift of Palou. Whilst Marcus ericsson now seems out of the Hunt, falling 75 points behind Palou with a Ho Hum 7th place finish.