Josef Newgarden tightened his grip on the IndyCar championship with a trouble-free run at Portland (Ore.) International Raceway and a victory by teammate Will Power.
Power won for the second time in three races, and the Sunday victory was critical because it prevented any of Newgarden’s title contenders from taking the top spot on the podium.
Newgarden started with a 38-point lead in the standings, finished fifth and now takes his bid for a second title in three years to the Sept. 22 season finale at Laguna Seca.
“I am happy for Will, I wanted Will to win the race,” Newgarden said. “If we weren’t going to win it, then he’s the guy to win and take the points away from somebody else.”
Power understood the task for Team Penske and Chevrolet, and understood he had to prevent Alexander Rossi and five-time and reigning series champion Scott Dixon from winning at Portland and closing in on Newgarden’s points lead. Rossi finished third, but still trails Newgarden by 41 points. Dixon was in control of the race early until his battery died and is now a long shot to win the title.
“Just so stoked get to victory lane, helps the team, keeps the other guys from getting points,” Power said.
Less than thrilled was Rossi, who believed Portland was the place to pounce after Newgarden had a poor qualifying effort. It put Newgarden in 13th at the start and in the thick of the chaos that began with a multi-car crash in the opening turn. Newgarden, realizing he only must stay out of trouble in two races to win the title, remained calm and avoided the carnage.
“I was in the wrong place, I can tell you that,” he said. “I saw someone come barreling at me, so I just tried to stop and go around. When you start that far back, you run the risk of being part of something like that.”
Even after dropping to the back of the field, he still managed to drive his way toward the front and finish just two spots behind Rossi. Although it’s still a matchup of American drivers racing for the title at Laguna Seca, Rossi knows he must win the finale and hope Newgarden has a disastrous race to win the championship.
Rossi was runner-up to Dixon in last year’s title race.
• IndyCar won’t return to Pocono Raceway next season and instead will replace the oval with Richmond Raceway on the 2020 schedule. Pocono’s contract expired after last month’s race and the Pennsylvania track has been questioned over its compatibility with IndyCar.
Formula One: Charles Leclerc held off Lewis Hamilton to win the Belgian Grand Prix from pole position in Spa-Francorchamps, securing the first victory of his Formula One career. Hamilton was within one second of Leclerc on the final lap, but the 21-year-old from Monaco prevailed.
Leclerc dedicated his win to French driver Anthoine Hubert, who died Saturday following a heavy crash during an F2 race on the same track. Moments after winning, Leclerc pointed to the sky and to Hubert’s name written on the side of his car. Sunday’s scheduled F2 race was canceled.
This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Will-Power-wins-at-Portland-in-big-day-for-Team-14406595.php.