Today’s question: Who will win the Grand Prix of Portland on Sunday, Sept. 12 at Portland International Raceway?
Curt Cavin: This era of INDYCAR has only raced at Portland International Raceway twice, and a race wasn’t held last year. That tells me experience will be less of a factor than it might otherwise be. Given that, the door is open for Alex Palou, who has never raced at this venue, to make a big rebound from a pair of not-his-fault finishes that dropped him from the points lead (27th on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, 20th at World Wide Technology Raceway). I say this is the week the 24-year-old Spaniard shows his championship mettle.
Zach Horrall: I agree with Curt. With the NTT INDYCAR SERIES never having run at Portland with the aeroscreen, it’s going to be a different race than before. The last time we had a race with this even of a playing field was in Nashville, and I’m taking that winner to score another one this weekend. Marcus Ericsson has been the hottest driver of the summer, and he keeps that status going in Portland, a track where he’s never raced. Since Nashville, he has not finished worse than ninth, and he’s tied with Josef Newgarden for the best average finish of the championship contenders at 6.3. Maybe with a win, he’ll shed his “underdog” status and truly be considered a championship contender.
Paul Kelly: I’ve always found it pretty interesting how both NASCAR Cup Series and NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers involved in the NASCAR Playoffs or the title hunt toward the end of the INDYCAR season, respectively, always seem to end up in Victory Circle. Championship contenders always seem to be more switched on when it really matters. But INDYCAR will buck that trend this weekend, as Colton Herta will become the fifth driver to win two races this season. He has been fast at all three races since the summer break and looked to win at Nashville until he put the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda into the tire barrier while chasing leader Marcus Ericsson late. Plus, Herta finished fourth after starting from pole in his only prior start at Portland International Raceway, in 2019. This is the weekend Herta puts it all together and gets a win that’s seemingly long overdue.