Sato Gives Rahal IndyCar Win At Portland

Dixon Survives First Lap Mayhem

Scott Stiller
September 03, 2018 - 7:48 am
Takuma Sato Takes Rahal, Letterman, Lanigan Racing Back To Victory Lane At Portland

Chris Jones-IndyCar Series

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Portland, OR (93.7 The Fan) - Takuma Sato picked up his third career victory by winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Portland Grand Prix Sunday at Portland International Raceway.  The win was Sato’s first since capturing the 2017 Indianapolis 500 and first with Rahal, Letterman, Lanigan Racing.

Sato took advantage of a lap one caution and topped off his fuel tank right before the race went back to green and that strategy enabled him to stop only two more times and jump several positions as other drivers were on a three-stop strategy.  Sato then held off Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay over the final 23-laps to get the win.

“The strategy worked extremely well, the car worked well, and the pit stops were fantastic,” said Sato. “I was of course looking at Ryan Hunter-Reay in my mirrors.  I knew he had more push-to-pass and I knew he was coming but I kept really cool.  The yellow obviously helped but more importantly, the car had pace”.

Hunter-Reay held on for second place and Sebastien Bourdais finished third to round out the podium.

Sato’s teammate Graham Rahal was a victim of the lap one caution when Andretti’s Zach Veach squeezed Schmidt Petersen Motorsports James Hinchcliffe and the two made contact, which set off a multi-car crash that included Marco Andretti, points leader Scott Dixon, his teammate Ed Jones in addition to Rahal, Veach and Hinchcliffe.  Fortunately nobody was injured.

“I don’t know what happened in front of us, but it was a cluster,” said Rahal.  “I couldn’t see anything, and I had nowhere to go.  From what I hear it sounds like Veach just put Hinch up on the curb, which is pretty unfair.  A lot of guys were driving aggressively, which is okay, but we’ve got to give each other room”.

Andretti and Jones’ cars were too heavily damaged to return to the race.  Hinchcliffe and Rahal made repairs to their cars and returned to the race several laps down but managed to gain a few championship points. Amazingly Dixon avoided major damage to the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda and drove away from the accident and wound up finishing fifth.

More importantly, Dixon finished ahead of his two closest championship contenders, Alexander Rossi and Will Power.  Rossi finished 8th and Power finished 21st after going off track and suffering gearbox issues.

Dixon now leads Rossi by 29-points going into the season finale in two weeks at Sonoma Raceway. Power and his Team Penske teammate Josef Newgarden are 87-points behind Dixon.

 The season finale pays double points, so those four drivers have a mathematical shot at the championship.

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