top of page

Notes & Quotes: Grand Prix of Portland

JIM CAHALL, born in Albuquerque and raised in Durango, Colo., considers himself a Texan because his family originates from Texas. He started working for AJ Foyt Racing in 2015. He left after several years, worked for a couple other teams then returned to Foyt this season. Now Cahall drives the transporter carrying the No. 55 Sexton Properties/IFS Chevrolet. At the track he is the tire tech, the tech for the support equipment and the fueler on race day. A former crew chief in drag racing, he was hired by the Sheik of Bahrain to compete in the Middle East. We asked him a few questions...

How did you get involved in racing?

JC: "I’ve been involved in some sort of racing from my early teens. A.J. was one of my childhood heroes."

What was the first race you saw (how old were you, where was it, what kind of cars and which track)?

JC: "Drag racing, dirt track, motor cross."

Jim Cahall (right) adds fuel to Pedersen's car at Nashville.

What series (and teams) have you worked with in the past?

JC: "I served 5 years in the Navy as an aircraft technician. Served in Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

In my off time from the Navy, I worked building drag racing cars which later led to being a crew chief for a pro stock truck team. I was part of two championships on an NHRA Pro Mod team. I did contract work for top fuel teams and various IndyCar, Indy NXT, Pro Mazda and IMSA. I worked for Core Autosport when they won the LMPC championship. Also worked for Andretti Motorsports in the LMP3 division, plus the Dale Coyne and Rahal IndyCar teams. Have one win in IndyCar with Takuma Sato at Rahal."

When did you start working for the team? How did it come about?

JC: "I started working for AJ Foyt Racing when they opened the shop in Indy (2015).

At the time I was working contract for Coyne and Craig asked me to come work at Foyt knowing I was from Texas. When I got hired, they asked me to go to Indy to start at the shop there. I was hoping to be working in Texas, but it’s IndyCar, and Indy is the place to be. It's a central hub for all kinds of racing."

In addition to driving the No. 55 transporter, Cahall handles the Firestone tires for the team.

Favorite / best part of being involved in IndyCar/our team?

JC: "Favorite part of being here now is working with the guys and working for my hero A.J. I’ve been watching the Indy 500 since I was 5 years old. Always wanted to work for A.J. and be involved in IndyCar racing."

How long did it take you to drive to Portland, Ore.?

JC: "It took 36 hours to drive to Portland from St. Louis."

How long are your shifts?

JC: "We do 10-hour plus driving shifts." [11 hours is the maximum]

When do you prefer driving-- day or night?

JC: "Prefer night driving. Less traffic."

Do you convoy with other teams?

JC: "Not a big fan of follow-the-leader. Convoys are a safety hazard. I like being able to see as far ahead as possible and travel at my own pace."

What kind of reactions do you get from fellow motorists?

JC: "Motorists are always giving thumbs up or honking as they go by."

What do you worry about most on the road?

JC: "My biggest worry on the road are [tire] blowouts or mechanical failures."

What is the most memorable story from your career?

JC: "Being hired by the Sheik in Bahrain to drag race in the Middle East. The drag racing team I worked for was bought by the family of Bahrain to compete with the Qatar family here in the States and in Qatar, Bahrain and Dubai. It was the Pro Mod division in NHRA and the ADRL (American Drag Racing League)."

Jim and daughter Samantha.

Advice for someone starting out?

JC: "Strive for perfection, be ready to work long hours. Learn about everything."

What are your hobbies or interests--what do you like to do in your spare time?

JC: "Riding and building motorcycles. Building and shooting guns, and hiking."

Top 3 things on your bucket list?

JC: "One real bucket list item right now is being a certified free fall sky diver."

SANTINO FERRUCCI will be making his third start at this track. He carries some momentum into this weekend after running a savvy race in St. Louis. It will be his 59th start in INDYCAR.

You’ve run Portland twice, as one of four races in 2018 and then again in 2019. Have you raced enough in 2023 that your lack of recent experience on that track isn’t as much of a factor this weekend?

SF: "I think even when I ran this race in 2018 we were running inside the top 10 but the fuel collector had broken so the car actually ran out of fuel on the pit-in lap going into the final stint. Even in 2019, I was okay at Portland. I do very much enjoy racing on the circuit as it has a very old-school feel. I don’t think not having been back here is going to hurt my on-track experience this weekend."

Is Portland unique or does it remind you of other tracks you’ve run this season?

SF: "Portland kind of reminds me of the go kart track I grew up racing at -- just some of the turns are very similar and it has a very unique flow. I do think Portland is an outlier among all the other tracks this season just because of the speeds that you can reach."

Where are the key sections that you need to focus on to get the maximum performance out of the car?

SF: "I would say braking is going to be very important this weekend as well as being able to roll entry speed. There’s not one particular section of the track that you would need to be concerned with. I would say it’s an overall car balance that you’re looking for."

What do you enjoy about racing at Portland?

SF: "I think it’s cool just to be out on the west coast. Portland's fans are always super nice and very much enjoy racing. I also just enjoy this track as a driver. It’s very satisfying to run laps here."

Ferrucci Fast Facts: Age 25...Born in Woodbury, CT...Lives in Dallas, Texas...Began racing karts at age 5, moved to cars in 2013...Competed in Formula 2000, British Formula 3, GP3 finishing third at Spa Francorchamps as a rookie, was development driver for Haas F1 team for three years (2016-2018), moved to Formula 2 in 2018...made his INDYCAR debut in Detroit in 2018...moved to NTT INDYCAR Series fulltime in 2019 finishing 13th in standings for Dale Coyne and won Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year after finishing seventh...13th in standings again with fourth place finish in the 500...drove part-time in 2021-22 but maintained top-10 streak in Indy 500 with finishes of sixth (RLL Racing) and 10th (Dreyer Reinbold Racing)...Scored best finish to date this year with his 3rd place finish in the Indianapolis 500...Competed part-time in NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2021-22.

BENJAMIN PEDERSEN, who grew up in Seattle after moving there at the age of four from his native Denmark, returns to his "home track" this weekend. He competed at Portland in the Indy NXT Series where he scored a victory at this track last year. He finished fourth there in 2021 after starting third. It will be his sixteenth start in the NTT INDYCAR Series.

What is the best thing about racing your hometown track?

BP: "It's the closest track by a long way to where I grew up in Seattle. Only a couple hours from there and you can really just feel the Pacific Northwest vibes, if you will. There's just a lot of local support, especially with the sponsors I have on board on my car. A lot of the local people know those companies and so yes it's just very, very special."

Do you have any recommendations for coffee shops or restaurants near the track?

BP: "No, other than Starbucks because that's a Seattle-based company. So that would be the only one."

Does having won at Portland in the Indy NXT Series give you a boost in confidence for this weekend?

BP: "Absolutely. Last year, the Indy NXT race at Portland was literally the best weekend you could ask for. We were fastest in every single session, every practice, and got the pole. We led the whole race from pole and won, so yes, it's a massive confidence boost. I know the track really well."

Does Portland remind you of any other tracks in other series?

BP: "I would say Portland is kind of its own thing. I actually had never raced there until my first time there in Indy next I'd never even been on the track in any way. So no, I would say Portland's kind of its own track. It's very fun. I think a lot of people enjoy it.

What is the key to getting around Portland?

BP: "With such a short lap, the drivers can make a huge difference from the driving perspective to try to find that tenth of a second throughout the whole lap. I wouldn't be surprised to see the top six in qualifying within two or three tenths of a second, so it's super tight. The key is really just putting a lap together and understanding how it flows and really being precise with every little detail."

What can you do to change your luck this season?

BP: "I think we just keep digging in general and never give up. And take this positive energy of going to the west coast where I grew up and have had a lot of success and just try to do the best possible job."

Pedersen Fast Facts: Age 24...Born in Copenhagen, Denmark, moved to Seattle at age 4 and is now living in Indianapolis...Began racing karts at a young age and has competed and won races in the INDY NXT by Firestone Series, British Formula 3, FR Americas Championship, F4 US Championship...Earned Rookie of the Year award in the Indianapolis 500 after setting a record for the fastest qualifying lap by a rookie (233.297mph). Enjoys golf, pickleball, skiing, soccer, snowmobiling, mountain biking, dirt biking.

Past Performance at Portland: AJ Foyt Racing’s best start is 10th and best finish is eighth (1993 with driver Robby Gordon). Matheus Leist also finished eighth in 2019. Ferrucci's best start here is 14th and best finish is 17th, both in 2019. Pedersen's best start in the Indy NXT Series is pole and best finish is winning from pole, both in 2022.

Last Race: At World Wide Technology Raceway just outside of St. Louis, Pedersen was literally knocked out of the race before he reached Turn 1 when he was punted by Ed Carpenter. His car was heavily damaged and had to drop out. Ferrucci's luck took a turn for the better as the fuel strategy played a key role in his advancing from 26th to 13th for his best finish since claiming third in the Indy 500.

The Grand Prix of Portland will be broadcast Sunday, Sept. 3rd on NBC starting at 3 p.m. ET. Practices and qualifying will be streamed live on Peacock.


bottom of page