By Dylan Reynolds, The Open Wheel
The INDYCAR season continues this weekend with the NTT INDYCAR SERIES 2021 Grand Prix of Portland at Portland International Raceway in Portland, Oregon. The Open Wheel will be covering the action all weekend so stay tuned to this site and our Twitter page @openwh33l for all of the latest news.
Photo by Parker Hall/The Open Wheel
Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires Preview: Indy Lights Grand Prix of Portland Presented by Cooper Tires – Race 1: Saturday, September 11, 2021 4:55PM (ET) Peacock & Race 2: Sunday, September 12, 2021 1:30PM (ET) Peacock – David Malukas swept the top step of the podium at both races on the oval at World Wide Technology Raceway to take the championship lead in the last round. Malukas leads Kyle Kirkwood by 3 points and teammate Linus Lundqvist by 59 points heading into Portland. Two new drivers are entered this weekend with Rasmus Lindh in the Juncos Hollinger Racing No. 51 (formerly driven by Toby Sowery) and Manuel Sulaiman in the HMD Motorsports No. 59 (formerly driven by Nikita Lastochkin).
NTT INDYCAR SERIES Preview: Grand Prix of Portland – Sunday, September 12, 2021 3:00PM (ET) NBC – The NTT INDYCAR SERIES returns to Portland International Raceway weekend after not making it to the circuit in 2020 due to COVID. The championship five still realistically in contention as we enter the final three race weekends of the season are Pato O’Ward, Alex Palou, Josef Newgarden, Scott Dixon, and Marcus Ericsson. New team/driver combinations this weekend will be Oliver Askew in the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing No. 45 and the return of Juncos Hollinger Racing with European star Callum Ilott in their new No. 77 entry.
Previous driver experience at Portland International Raceway shows three former winners in the field in Sebastien Bourdais (2), Will Power (1), and Takuma Sato (1). Power and Sato won the two races at Portland. Looking at the box scores from 2019 and 2018, no one finished in the Top 5 in both races. Alexander Rossi, Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud, and Bourdais finished in the Top 10 in each of the last two races. The active Top 5 in laps led at the circuit are Bourdais (149), Power (66), Colton Herta (36), Rossi (32), and Sato (25).
My pick to win: Race: Colton Herta – Herta has been qualifying up front and in contention for a while now and is due to get another win. The Andretti contingent had speed at Portland last time out and Herta seems to be the class of the pack. He’s my pick for victory from pole this weekend.
My fantasy.indycar.com picks: Colton Herta, Alexander Rossi, Romain Grosjean, & Rinus VeeKay – You know my thoughts on Herta. Rossi has picked up his speed in recent events and just needs some things to go his way on race day. Grosjean may have a little more leveled playing field than usual without a race in Portland last year and his team has run well at the circuit in the past. VeeKay has a Portland win in Indy Lights and has finished no worse than second in four Road to Indy starts there. I expect him to rebound strong from what has ultimately been a disappointing second half of the season thus far.