Josef Newgarden tightened his grip on the IndyCar championship with a trouble-free run at Portland (Ore.) International Raceway and a victory by teammate Will Power.
Power won for the second time in three races, and the Sunday victory was critical because it prevented any of Newgarden’s title contenders from taking the top spot on the podium.
Newgarden started with a 38-point lead in the standings, finished fifth and now takes his bid for a second title in three years to the Sept. 22 season finale to Laguna Seca in California.
“I am happy for Will, I wanted Will to win the race,” Newgarden said. “If we weren’t going to win it, then he’s the guy to win and take the points away from somebody else.”
Power prevented Alexander Rossi and five-time champion Scott Dixon from moving up. Rossi finished third and trails Newgarden by 41 points; Dixon was in control of the race until his battery died and is now a long shot to win the title.
Ferrari’s Leclerc wins
Charles Leclerc continued to emerge as Ferrari’s No. 1 driver, taking his first Formula One victory in the Belgian Grand Prix.
His path to the top of the team is clear because of the difficulties this season for four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel. Vettel finished fourth Sunday and hasn’t won in 21 races. Leclerc, 21, leads Vettel 3-1 in pole positions and 6-0 in qualifying over the past six races.
Leclerc held off five-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton late in Sunday’s race and won by .981 seconds.
“If I feel like I’m ready to be challenging for a world title, in the end I have the car and the team for it,” he said. “I have got a lot learn, but I feel ready.