PORTLAND, Ore.—Matheus Leist captured an eighth place finish in his No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet after starting deep in pack in the Grand Prix of Portland at Portland International Raceway Sunday afternoon.
A strategy twist to capitalize on a late race caution saw Leist pit with five laps to go for a fresh set of Firestone alternate (red) tires. Armed with fresh rubber, the young Brazilian passed both Charlie Kimball and Sebastien Bourdais in one lap to move into eighth. He put heavy pressure on seventh-running Simon Pagenaud, weathered a few blocks by the wily veteran before settling in for his second top-10 of the season.
Leist started the race in 21st, just behind teammate Tony Kanaan who qualified 19th in his No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet. In a repeat of last year’s race, there was a multi-car crash in Turn 1 on the start-- this time triggered by contact between Graham Rahal and Zach Veach.
Both Kanaan and Leist managed to snake their way through for the second straight year. Veach and Rahal were out and so were the Arrow team cars with James Hinchcliffe and Conor Daly. Takuma Sato lost laps in the pits with his repairs.
Leist ducked into the pits on lap 11 to top off his fuel as his team re-thought the two-stop strategy in favor of more flexibility. The race restarted on lap 12 but contact between Jack Harvey and Ryan Hunter-Reay on lap 14 brought out the second caution. By the time they restarted on lap 17, Kanaan was sixth and Leist was 11th.
Kanaan, on a three stop strategy, pitted on lap 30 with the team thinking he could gain track position (if not spots) by running in clean air. Unfortunately the car didn’t have the pace he needed to take advantage of it. By lap 62, he lost a lap to the leaders. He regained it when they pitted on lap 73 but lost it again when he pitted on lap 82.