Chip Ganassi’s Alex Palou has claimed his third win of the 2021 NTT IndyCar Series campaign after recovering from a chaotic opening lap at Portland International Raceway, reclaiming the points lead while he was at it.
Palou was pushed off the track by team-mate Scott Dixon after the Kiwi was tagged by Arrow McLaren SP’s Felix Rosenqvist as they entered Turn 1, and was relegated to the back of the field.
Through a restructured race strategy, Palou would make his way back through the field across the 110-lap race to take a step toward the series title.
The result of the race has seen the Spaniard retake the championship lead with a 35 point swing over Pato O’Ward who finished a lowly 14th, despite having led 28 laps early on.
Alexander Rossi’s tumultuous season took a positive turn in Portland after also surviving the Turn 1 melee and keeping pace with the frontrunners to claim his first podium of the season.
Scott Dixon looked to have the pace of team-mate Palou during the race, but couldn’t make the most of the overcut strategy other drivers were utilizing throughout, and had to settle for the final spot on the podium.
The six-time champion remains fourth in the drivers’ championship, 49 points behind Palou with just two races remaining.
Recovery was the theme of the race for Jack Harvey and Josef Newgarden, the duo storming their way through the field after starting 18th and 20th to finish in fourth and fifth respectively.
Rosenqvist also recovered well from instigating the opening lap chaos to finish in sixth ahead of Marcus Ericsson.
Colton Herta slipped back to eighth after starting sixth, the 21-year-old struggled to maintain the pace of the frontrunners throughout the weekend.
Penske’s Scott McLaughlin took a big step toward claiming Rookie Of The Year honours after finishing ninth while rival Romain Grosjean would finish 22nd after being part of the chaos on the opening lap.
Graham Rahal had looked to be in contention for the win but would finish in 10 after the merging of strategies from his rivals and a late caution saw him slip down the field.
WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca will play host to the penultimate round of the 2021 IndyCar season on September 18-19.