INDIANAPOLIS – Ever since the Verizon IndyCar Series stopped going to Portland in 2007, the Pacific Northwest racing fans have been clamoring for a new race. That’s a hot bed of racing fanatics that have seen several drivers come from there. Unfortunately, they haven’t had a race in their own backyard for a decade.
Now, the drought comes to an end.
It’s expected that the series will announce on Thursday that they will return to the Portland International Raceway on Labor Day weekend in 2018. The race will fill the gap left by Watkins Glen.
The two sides have been working on a return for the last few years, but they couldn’t find the right situation. But, with Watkins Glen not working out for the end of summer holiday weekend, Portland is saying they will, hence the replacement from one classic track to another.
The series started going to Portland in 1984 when Al Unser Jr. won the inaugural event. They’d return every year through 2007, when Sebastien Bourdais won the final race on the road course.
The track has produced some very close finishes in its history.
The closest road course finish in the series history was set there in 1986. Michael Andretti ran out of fuel on the final lap, which allowed his dad Mario Andretti to catch up and win by just 0.070-seconds.
Then, in 1997, the race set the now current all-time record for the closest two-car and closest three-car finish in series history on a road course. Mark Blundell beat second place Gil de Ferran by 0.027 seconds, and beat third place Raul Boesel by 0.055 second, in a three-wide finish.