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Race report
IndyCar Portland

IndyCar Portland: Alex Palou wins to be crowned 2023 champion

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou won the penultimate round of the IndyCar Series at Portland International Raceway to be crowned champion on Sunday.

Palou beat Arrow McLaren’s Felix Rosenqvist by 5.4s to claim his fifth win of the season and his second IndyCar championship, following up his 2021 success. It is Ganassi’s 15th title in the series.

Poleman Graham Rahal (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing) led the 27-car field to green, heading fellow alternate-tired starters Scott McLaughlin (Team Penske) and Colton Herta (Andretti Autosport). Palou surged up to third from fifth on the grid, with title rival Dixon slipping to fifth after tagging the rear of Herta at the apex of Turn 2 and delaying them both. Behind them, Josef Newgarden (Penske) and Kyle Kirkwood (Andretti) got together and had to take the escape road at the first chicane.

On the opening lap at Turn 7, Callum Ilott (Juncos Hollinger Racing) ran wide and was hit from behind by the luckless Romain Grosjean’s Andretti Autosport machine as he rejoined. Grosjean lost 10 laps for repairs.

The yellow flag flew on lap 3 as Will Power’s Penske entry spun off into the grass after an overambitious dive down the inside of Alexander Rossi (Arrow McLaren) at Turn 4.

Rahal led the restart on lap 7 from McLaughlin, Palou (who started on harder primary tires), Herta and Dixon (also on primaries). Behind them, the McLarens of Pato O’Ward headed Rossi and Rosenqvist – who made a storming start from 11th – the latter duo swapping seventh between them.

Herta, Rossi and Marcus Ericsson (Ganassi) were the first to pit on lap 19 but Herta was pinged for pitlane speeding, costing him a drive-through penalty. McLaughlin stopped on lap 22, with Rahal pitting a lap later, promoting Palou to the front ahead of Dixon, both running long first stints due to starting on the more durable tire.

Rahal and McLaughlin were mired in traffic after their early stops and hemorrhaged time, as Palou set a fearsome pace out front and opened up a 5s lead over Dixon. O’Ward and Rosenqvist pitted together on lap 30, with the former opting for alternates but losing track position to his team-mate during the stop.

Palou pitted for the first time on lap 32, switching to the unfavored alternates, with Dixon following suit a lap later but opting for primaries.

After the first cycle was complete, Palou led Dixon by 6s, with Rosenqvist leaping to third from O’Ward, Rahal, McLaughlin and Newgarden. Rossi slumped to the bottom of the top 10, while Herta’s penalty dropped him to 19th.

Dixon carved into Palou’s lead, as the Spaniard nursed his softer tires and got stuck behind tailender Sting Ray Robb. Palou dived for the pits on lap 49, giving him primary rubber for the rest of the race. As he rejoined, he instinctively appeared to block Helio Castroneves on the run to Turn 3 to keep his track position – but the incident wasn’t reviewed by race control.

Rosenqvist caught right up with Dixon before making his second stop on lap 58, the Swede committing to another long stint on primaries. Dixon stopped two laps later, gifting an 8s lead back to Palou and rejoining on alternates.

Palou extended his advantage to over 10s with 40 laps to go and pitted for the final time on lap 80 and rejoined ahead of the polewinner Rahal, who still had to make his final stop. Dixon stopped two laps later once again, rejoining 8s behind.

Agustin Canapino spun off with 27 laps to go, going straight on at Turn 10 and spun wildly back across the track and onto the grass, but IndyCar stalled the call to go full-course caution, which allowed Rosenqvist to pit before the yellow flew. That jumped him to second, ahead of Dixon, but meant he had the final stint 23 laps to the finish to run on alternates.

Palou had Rosenqvist right behind him at the restart, with Dixon and O’Ward having to deal with traffic. In the pack, the recovering Herta passed McLaughlin for eighth, while just ahead Rossi and Ericsson clashed wheels at 170mph on the approach to Turn 10, sending a furious Rossi to the pits for a new front wing.

Palou had it all under control at the front, as Rosenqvist had to manage his alternates, while Dixon had nothing to attempt to regain the runner-up spot he thought was stolen from him.

O’Ward finished fourth, ahead of Newgarden – who enjoyed a strong bounce back, despite two skirmishes with Kirkwood – and Rinus VeeKay, who had one of his best runs of the season for Ed Carpenter Racing. Ericsson was seventh but the chasing Herta spun with just three laps to go, promoting David Malukas (Dale Coyne Racing), McLaughlin and Kirkwood.

Polewinner Rahal finished 12th, ahead of Herta, and was livid about his team’s strategy calls. Ganassi’s Marcus Armstrong also lost a likely top 10 when he was sent on his way with only three wheels attached.

Cla Driver  Car / Engine   Laps   Time   Gap 
10 Alex Palou Dallara/Honda 110 1:57'01.9814  
6 Felix Rosenqvist Dallara/Chevrolet 110 1:57'07.4167 5.4353
9 Scott Dixon Dallara/Honda 110 1:57'10.0483 8.0669
5 Patricio O'Ward Dallara/Chevrolet 110 1:57'21.0386 19.0572
2 Josef Newgarden Dallara/Chevrolet 110 1:57'23.0645 21.0831
21 R.van Kalmthout Dallara/Chevrolet 110 1:57'23.8613 21.8799
8 Marcus Ericsson Dallara/Honda 110 1:57'32.5634 30.5820
18 David Malukas Dallara/Honda 110 1:57'34.6025 32.6211
3 Scott McLaughlin Dallara/Chevrolet 110 1:57'35.0096 33.0282
10  27 Kyle Kirkwood Dallara/Honda 110 1:57'35.7650 33.7836
11  45 C.Lundgaard Dallara/Honda 110 1:57'36.4571 34.4757
12  15 Graham Rahal Dallara/Honda 110 1:57'40.6809 38.6995
13  26 Colton Herta Dallara/Honda 110 1:57'41.7396 39.7582
14  06 H.Castroneves Dallara/Honda 110 1:57'42.3187 40.3373
15  77 Callum Ilott Dallara/Chevrolet 110 1:57'42.4583 40.4769
16  14 Santino Ferrucci Dallara/Chevrolet 110 1:57'43.1093 41.1279
17  29 D.Defrancesco Dallara/Honda 110 1:57'44.5392 42.5578
18  30 Jüri Vips Dallara/Honda 109 1:57'20.4921  
19  11 Marcus Armstrong Dallara/Honda 109 1:57'22.6103  
20  7 Alexander Rossi Dallara/Chevrolet 109 1:57'25.6319  
21  20 Ryan Hunter-Reay Dallara/Chevrolet 109 1:57'30.2079  
22  55 B.Pedersen Dallara/Chevrolet 109 1:57'39.9629  
23  51 Sting Ray Robb Dallara/Honda 109 1:57'58.7308  
24  60 Tom Blomqvist Dallara/Honda 109 1:57'59.8571  
25  12 Will Power Dallara/Chevrolet 108 1:58'00.5832  
26  78 Agustín Canapino Dallara/Chevrolet 82 1:30'44.6625  
27  28 Romain Grosjean Dallara/Honda 31 44'49.0179

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