Race Report: Grand Prix of Portland
PORTLAND (Sept. 4, 2022) -- After 110 laps, Kyle Kirkwood finished where he started in the Grand Prix of Portland bringing the No. 14 Sexton Properties Chevrolet home in 13th position. Dalton Kellett finished 22nd in the No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet after starting 25th.
Starting on the primary tires, Kirkwood dropped back to 15th at the start with rowmate Calum Ilott (on alternate compound tires) getting past. Kirkwood then got sandwiched between Scott Dixon and Romain Grosjean. Kirkwood held his own with Grosjean who went off track but the six-time IndyCar champ slid past the rookie.
The start of the race...
Kirkwood moved into 13th after the first round of pit stops and ran there for most of the race. He had a brief foray into 12th when Rinus Veekay (running ninth) was penalized for avoidable contact with Jimmie Johnson which brought out the race's only caution on lap 84. However, with 12 laps to go, Kirkwood was passed by Marcus Ericsson. By that point Kirkwood had used up his allotment of push-to-pass (p2p) horsepower boost (200 seconds) and could not counter the attack by this year's Indy 500 winner. However, he was able to fend off fellow rookie David Malukas, who had more p2p than Kirkwood but couldn't get by.
The Sexton crew had solid stops all day long.
"Race is done and we made all 110 laps," said Kirkwood. "Definitely on the right strategy and probably just missing a little bit of pace, ultimately we finished where we started, strategy got us forward, pace brought us back a little bit so we ended up equal with where we started. Super happy with that because we brought the car home and got some good points there ahead of the people that we need to be ahead of. Can't be any more satisfied than that and we'll go into Laguna next week with heads high and hopefully finish off the season strong."
Kirkwood debriefs with strategist Larry Foyt and engineers Daniele Cucchiaroni and Mike Colliver (behind screen).
Kellett had another tough weekend as they struggled to find pace around the 1.9-mile, 12-turn road course. Kellett also started on the primary compound tires and then used the alternate compound tires on his final three stints. Despite solid stops by his K-Line Insulators crew, he wasn't able to make much headway due to his lack of pace.
“A bit of a tough weekend overall for us," said the 29-year-old Torontonian who lives in Indianapolis. "Never seemed like we quite found the pace for K-Line car from the start of the weekend to the to the race. It felt like we were dealing with a bit of understeer that we couldn't quite get rid of. Then during the race tried to make some adjustments around the stops and with the tools in the car to deal with that but it persisted throughout. So, we feel like we probably needed another three or four tenths to be more in the mix of where we wanted to end up. But good clean race. Came home without any issues and now looking forward to wrapping the season up at Laguna Seca next weekend.”
Kellett listens to his race engineer Mike Pawlowski (right) while crew chief Shawn Ford is packing up.
Pole winner Scott McLaughlin dominated the competition leading 104 of the 110 laps, relinquishing it only during his pit stops. Team Penske teammate Will Power finished second and increased his NTT INDYCAR Series points lead to 20 points over rivals Scott Dixon who finished third and teammate Josef Newgarden who finished eighth. Rounding out the top five were Pato O'Ward and Graham Rahal.
The INDYCAR season finale at Laguna Seca Raceway will be broadcast live on NBC and streamed on Peacock Premium next Sunday afternoon, Sept. 11th, starting at 3 p.m. ET. The INDYCAR Radio Network will also cover the lap-by-lap action.