PORTLAND, Ore. — Scott McLaughlin led a Team Penske routine Sunday at Portland International Raceway to earn his third win of the season with a 1-2 finish that put Will Power one race closer to the NTT IndyCar Series championship.
McLaughlin led 104 of the 110 laps in his third career win. He is trailing only Penske teammate Josef Newgarden (five) in most winning streaks, but a volatile season has the New Zealander clinging to a title shot.
McLaughlin heads into the season finale on Sunday, September 11 at the WeatherTech Laguna Seca Raceway in California in fifth place overall, 41 points behind Power but still mathematically in the hunt.
RESULTS: Where everyone in Portland finished
“We did exactly what we had to do this weekend, which was win and get maximum points,” McLaughlin told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee. “We have to stick to that and we’re a long shot but we have a chance.”
Power, meanwhile, had a relatively easy ride but never enough to challenge McLaughlin for the win.
When choosing the second he leads by 20 points to the finals over both Newgarden and six-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon.
“We’re in the best position, we’ve got the best shot, we’re going to do our best,” said Power, who can win the championship by finishing third or better at Laguna Seca.
Dixon finished third but failed to gain ground in the title fight; Newgarden fell from fourth place at the restart with 22 laps remaining to finish eighth, down 17 points in power in the Penske Championship fight.
“We have to stop putting these ‘best improved’ ones through races,” said Dixon, Who started on the 16th, said NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch. “Man, we had to drive through the field today. Still fighting. Everything is possible. We won the tiebreak. We’re in and we won’t give up as a team until it’s over.”
The three Penske entrants were class of the field in Portland, where the team used its final test of the season to prepare for Sunday. The trio was quick in every session and had a clear advantage over Chip Ganassi Racing who decided to use their last test at Laguna Seca in anticipation of the finale.
Ganassi had Dixon, Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson and reigning IndyCar Champion Alex Palou in the title chase, but only Palou had a decent qualifying performance. Dixon and Ericsson failed to get out of the first qualifying group and Ericsson only recovered to 11th place. The Swede is 39 points behind Power, fourth in the table.
Although Palou finished 12th and Pato O’Ward fourth, both were eliminated from the title fight.
“We had a chance today; we had to come out with the win to really have a chance at Laguna,” said O’Ward. “I didn’t have enough for the Penske boys, man. All weekend they all dominated. Not just us.”