Track Talk: Portland, Alonso, 2019 Schedule

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By: Victor Genova

Portland returns, Takuma Sato upsets the field, the championship comes down to the wire in Sonoma, Fernando Alonso tests an IndyCar at Barber, while the 2019 IndyCar schedule loses an oval but gains a new road course. All this and more in this week’s #TrackTalk 

Takuma Sato wins in Portland: The 2017 Indy 500 champion took the checker flag for his first win of the season. A late race caution flipped the field helping many that experienced setbacks during a first lap shunt, move up. Sato held off a hard-charging Ryan Hunter-Reay for the victory.

And speaking of setbacks: That first corner shunt almost crushed Scott Dixon’s chances of a fifth IndyCar title. With a little bit of luck he was able to come through the carnage unscathed. After falling to the back of the lead lap Dixon was able to race his way to a fifth place finish. More importantly, he was able to retain the point’s lead going into the season finale in Sonoma.

And speaking of setbacks, part two: Alexander Rossi was on absolute rails and was the temporary points leader while running first with Dixon at the back of the pack. That late race caution that helped Sato? It didn’t help Rossi, sending him backwards. He’s 29 points back of Dixon, but with double-points up for grabs in Sonoma he has more than a viable chance of taking his first IndyCar championship.

Will Power’s championship resurgence cools off: The reigning Indy 500 champion has been on a tear as of late. A third at Mid-Ohio, second at Pocono, and then a win at Gateway vaulted him into immediate contention of the title. Will Power continued his charge with pole position at Portland, only to have his race thwarted by gearbox issues. A 21st place finish has shifted his position from title favourite to underdog.

Fernando Alonso to test an IndyCar at Barber: Will he or won’t he? That’s the question about Fernando Alonso’s rumoured full-season IndyCar plans. The needle moved a bit closer to yes with his recent test at Barber Motorsports Park. Closed to the public, we have little information other than a couple of pictures and a report that his best lap time was slightly quicker than Josef Newgarden’s 2018 pole time.

Meet your 2019 IndyCar schedule: The new schedule is out, and while the departures of Phoenix and Sonoma were previously announced, the addition of the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, was a pleasant surprise. The 2019 schedule boasts five ovals, five street circuits, and seven permanent road courses, and will also see Laguna Seca return to the calendar as the new series finale.

Robert Wickens – 2018 IndyCar Rookie of The Year: Robert Wickens has been officially crowned the 2018 IndyCar Rookie of the Year. Even though he missed Gateway and Portland due to injury, his current 110-point lead over Zach Veach is still enough to clinch the award without having to start Sonoma. Wickens was also the 2018 Indy 500 Rookie of The Year.

Victor Genova is a freelance motorsports writer and the host & founder of the Media People Podcast. You can follow him on Instagram @vicgenova

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