NTT INDYCAR SERIES points leader Alex Palou aims to clinch championship in Portland this weekend

BITNILE.COM Grand Prix of Portland race weekend begins Friday with ten total races on tap

PORTLAND, Ore. (Aug. 30, 2023) – Championship chases across multiple series will be decided at Portland International Raceway (PIR) this weekend at the BITNILE.COM Grand Prix of Portland, Sept. 1-3. The NTT INDYCAR SERIES title is likely one of them as points leader Alex Palou brings a 74-point lead into the season’s penultimate race in the Rose City.

With two races remaining, only two NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers are still eligible to win the Astor Cup awarded to the season champion – Palou and his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon. Palou, the pilot of the No. 10 Honda, has won at Portland before, taking the checkered flag at the 2021 Grand Prix of Portland, a victory that propelled him to claim the 2021 INDYCAR title. On Sunday, the 26-year old Spaniard can clinch his second series championship if he holds at least a 55-point advantage in the standings at the conclusion of the 110-lap BITNILE.COM Grand Prix of Portland.

“We’ve won at Portland before and I also got my first INDYCAR pole there, so it is a special place,” said Palou. “The team is looking good for the championship, and we know that it will stay within the team, which is the most important thing. We have a chance to win it and seal the title there, so hopefully we can bring it home early.”

Even though Palou holds a sizable points lead heading into the weekend, Dixon, a six-time series champion, is making a late-season charge. The legendary veteran, second on the all-time INDYCAR wins list (55 wins), has won two races in a row at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then at World Wide Technology Raceway outside of St. Louis to keep his championship hopes alive.

“I think the 10 car (Palou) has had an almost perfect season and kudos to everybody on the 10-car side. They’ve done everything right,” said Dixon. “On the days they may have struggled for pace, they were able to sort that out with strategy in the race. They’ve really just had no bad days. When people have those years, it can be a bit hard to watch for other competitors in the field, but I’ve been in that place where anything you kind of touch just turns to gold or goes in the direction you want it to. I think what is very special is, going into the last two races, to only have a Ganassi driver able to win the championship. It’s very cool and very, very good for this team.”

Though eliminated from title contention, Team Penske teammates Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin will also jockey for position in the standings as the season heads to the finish line. Newgarden, a four-time winner in 2023 including the Indianapolis 500, sits third in the standings, and McLaughlin, the defending Portland race winner, comes in at fifth. Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward, currently in fourth position, is looking for his first victory of the year.

“I would like to have some of the luck he (Palou) has had. If he could rub some of that off on me, that would be fantastic,” said McLaughlin. “He gets the opportunities, and he takes them. You can’t be angry about that. You’ve just got to work harder and be better.”

Drivers from the three top open-wheel development series that feed into the NTT INDYCAR SERIES will also be battling for championships at PIR on Labor Day weekend. With three races left, INDY NXT by Firestone points leader Christian Rasmussen takes a 50-point advantage over Andretti Autosport’s Hunter McElrea. Champions will be crowned and scholarship funds awarded in USF Pro 2000 Presented by Cooper Tires and USF2000 Presented by Cooper Tires as both series conclude their seasons with tripleheader races across the weekend. The U.S. Touring Car Championship will also add exciting sports car action to the weekend lineup.

Prior to the race weekend, fans are welcome to attend the BITNILE.COM Grand Prix of Portland Kickoff Party on Thursday, Aug. 31 from 5-7:30 p.m. PT at Kenton Station Restaurant & Pub (8303 N. Denver Ave., Portland 97217). The Portland sports talk radio show “Primetime with Isaac & Suke” from 1080 AM The Fan will broadcast live from the party until 7 p.m., and INDYCAR drivers Agustin Canapino, Callum Ilott, Benjamin Pedersen, Felix Rosenqvist, Alexander Rossi, plus additional drivers from support series will be on site at select times to sign autographs and mingle with fans.

Ticket prices start as low as $25 for Single Day General Admission and $70 for Single Day Grandstand seats. Three-day tickets remain available for purchase and offer the best fan value. General Admission for the entire weekend is just $70, and a 3-Day Grandstand reserved seat starts at $85 which includes gate admission.

Children 12 and under receive free general admission to the event. This also includes complimentary access to the NTT INDYCAR SERIES Paddock throughout the weekend when accompanied by a ticketed adult. To enhance their experience further, the youngest fans can participate in the BITNILE.COM Grand Prix of Portland Rookie Racers. This immersive program, offering unique experiences throughout the race weekend, is on sale at raceportland.com for a nominal fee.

For all ticket pricing, grandstand locations and additional festival information, visit raceportland.com. Stay up to speed on the BITNILE.COM Grand Prix of Portland on social media all year long by following #PortlandGP.

About BITNILE.COM Grand Prix of Portland:

Portland International Raceway (PIR) is the home of the BITNILE.COM Grand Prix of Portland. PIR is a 1.964-mile, 12-turn permanent road course owned by the City of Portland and operated under Portland Parks & Recreation. Opened in 1960 to host sports car and drag racing, the 268-acre property hosts over 550 events annually including automotive and motorcycle road racing, motocross, cruise-ins and other special events including the Rose Cup Races. PIR has been the site of many memorable INDYCAR races. Al Unser Jr. won the inaugural one in 1984, and the NTT INDYCAR SERIES returned in 2018 after an 11-year absence with 2017 and 2020 Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato taking the checkered flag. The Father’s Day race of 1986 featured Mario Andretti passing his son Michael on the last lap and winning by 0.070 of a second. The closest three-way road racing finish in INDYCAR SERIES history took place at PIR in 1997 when the top three were covered by just 0.055 of a second. In 2021, Alex Palou’s victory in Portland propelled him to win the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship. The Grand Prix of Portland is owned and operated by Green Savoree Portland, LLC, which also promotes NASCAR Xfinity Series’ Pacific Office Automation 147 event at PIR (June 2-3, 2023) and whose affiliates own and operate three additional INDYCAR SERIES races: Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding (March 3-5, 2023), The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Presented by the 2023 Accord Hybrid (June 30-July 2, 2023) and Honda Indy Toronto (July 14-16, 2023).

For more information, visit raceportland.com, ‘like’ its Facebook page @PortlandGP or follow updates on Twitter @Race_Portland and Instagram at @Race_Portland using #PortlandGP.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

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