Palou recovers in Portland for IndyCar win
Three-time Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin has led the Grand Prix of Portland for five laps but ultimately it was Alex Palou that won the IndyCar race to reclaim the points lead.
Spaniard Palou recovered from first-lap trouble to win for the third time in 2021 with just two races to conclude the season over the next two weekends.
Starting from pole, Palou and his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon hurtled toward the first turn on the permanent road course.
Felix Rosenqvist appeared to clip Dixon, causing the Kiwi veteran to lock his brakes as he and Palou rode side-by-side.
Neither Ganassi car was going to make the turn and both followed Rosenqvist through a runoff to avoid crashing.
The off-course adventure dropped Palou to 17th and Dixon to 18th when the race restarted on lap 11 - the first lap under green.
But in all the ducking and weaving to avoid a multi-crash accident, Pato O'Ward had cycled from seventh on the start to the lead before he even made it through the first turn.
"We kept our heads down and we knew the race was very long," Palou said of the 110-lap event.
Although O'Ward led 28 laps, he couldn't put a complete race together and the Ganassi drivers slowly picked their way back into contention.
Palou had returned to the lead and was out front for a pair of restarts in the final 20 laps, holding off Alexander Rossi both times to preserve the victory.
The 24-year-old moved back atop the standings and takes a 25-point lead over O'Ward into next week's road course race at Laguna Seca in California.
The season then concludes September 26 on the streets of Long Beach, marking three tracks where Palou has never raced to close the season and his first championship.
Rossi finished a season-best second for his first podium of the season and was followed by reigning series champion Dixon.
McLaughlin finished the race ninth while Australian Will Power was 13th.
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