Race Report: BitNile.com Grand Prix of Portland
PORTLAND (Sept. 3, 2023) -- The BitNile.com Grand Prix of Portland became a survival contest as numerous bump-and-runs characterized the race. Some of the drivers were able to continue after losing a few spots and some were not so fortunate.
Santino Ferrucci was a victim of a tag from behind causing him to spin in the closing stages of the 110-lap race courtesy of Devlin De Francesco who received a penalty for the avoidable contact.
“I had to check up for them in front of me and Devlin didn’t check up and he just hit me. It was BS, but it was a bit of racing," said Ferrucci.
Post-race debrief trackside.
The tire choice of starting on the primaries worked to the team's advantage as both Ferrucci and Benjamin Pedersen were able to 'go long' on the harder compound tire--each pitting within a lap of each other on laps 30 and 29 respectively. They opted for the alternate tires for the second stint.
From there they diverged as Pedersen preferred the alternates and Ferrucci the primaries. Both drivers were able to avoid the multiple skirmishes that took place in the race resulting in mostly local yellows. Only two full course yellows, one at the beginning of the race and the other towards the end, slowed the pace of the 27-car field.
Ferrucci finished 16th in the No. 14 Sexton Properties Chevrolet after starting 22nd (gaining a spot on the grid due to a penalty incurred by Ryan Hunter-Reay's team for an unscheduled engine change).
“Long race," said Ferrucci. "Fighting a little bit of understeer here and there, but overall, pretty happy with the performance of the car. It’s a good step moving forward. I think we definitely could have had the top 15 had we not got spun on the final restart, but on to Laguna and just keep building."
Pedersen finished 22nd after starting 26th in the Bavarian Meats/Sexton Properties Chevrolet.
“Honestly it was one of our best races," said Pedersen, who has had his share of bad luck this season. "We just got caught out by the yellow by literally a lap. We pitted and then two laps later the yellow came out."
The timing cost him track position relative to the other cars that were about to go a lap down.
Pedersen checks in with race engineer Roberto Garcia after the race.
"Otherwise, I think a top 15 was looking very realistic," he continued. "Just trying to have a really good day and it was looking really good. I think it was one of our best races from my point of view, and the team also, with pit stops. We just got a little unlucky with strategy. I would say the car has come a really long way from our road course setup, so that’s very promising. Crazy there’s only one race to go, so we’ll look to finish really strong.”
Alex Palou clinched his second NTT INDYCAR Series title in three years in style by winning the race after starting fifth. Claiming his fifth victory, he has finished eighth or better in all 16 races this season. Following him to the checkered flag were Felix Rosenqvist, Scott Dixon, Pato O'Ward and Josef Newgarden.
The season wraps up next weekend with the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. The race will be broadcast Sunday afternoon starting at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC.
The Columbia River at sunset.