Advantage Scott Dixon as Indycar Series nears end in Portland

Scott Dixon carries a handy lead into the penultimate round of the IndyCar series in Portland.
PHOTOSPORT

Scott Dixon carries a handy lead into the penultimate round of the IndyCar series in Portland.

PITSTOP DIARY

Scott Dixon has a 26-point advantage heading into Sunday's Grand Prix of Portland in Oregon, the penultimate round of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series. 

Three title contenders have emerged with just two races left on the calendar, all on the podium at last weekend's final speedway (oval) round of the season in Illinois. 

Winner Will Power has moved within 68-points of Dixon while Alexander Rossi's second place reduced his margin to Dixon. Portland and the finale at Sonoma in a fortnight's time are both road courses that suit Dixon. 

Neither of the three have won at Portland which hasn't hosted the series since 2007 while both Dixon and Power have each won three times at Sonoma.

READ MORE: 
* Dixon's IndyCar lead dwindles
* Van Gisbergen leads SuperCars

Home GP for Team Hartley

Brendon Hartley faces a 'home' Grand Prix in Italy with his Scuderia Toro Rosso team.
GETTY IMAGES

Brendon Hartley faces a 'home' Grand Prix in Italy with his Scuderia Toro Rosso team.

A favourite amongst F1 fans, this weekend's Italian Grand Prix is a home event for Brendon Hartley's Scuderia Toro Rosso team. Previously known as Minardi, the team was bought by Austrian beverage company Red Bull in 2005 as a junior team to Red Bull Racing.  Included in the initial terms of the deal was the clause that the team must keep its headquarters in Faenza, Italy, until at least 2007. 

This status of junior team to Red Bull Racing must be taken into account when assessing the season so far, particularly with regard to Hartley's performance.

By comparison with his team-mate Frenchman Pierre Gasly, this has been mediocre. Nothing in F1 should be taken at face-value. 

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To date, this season we have observed Toro Rosso as a strategy developing their Honda engine in preparation for their senior team replacing their current Renault power in 2019. 

It was evident at the Belgium Grand Prix last weekend that the Toro Rosso strategy is to help Gasly gain his best result before he moves up to replace Daniel Ricciardo at Red Bull Racing next season.  Gasly had been in a fight with Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson for a minor place but important championship points. 

The team employed a pitstop strategy that when both Gasly and Ericsson pitted, they would emerge with Hartley between them.

This gave Gasly breathing room to secure ninth but effectively destroyed Hartley's race, finishing outside the points in 14th. In some regards Hartley is the journeyman for the team, doing the hard yards without the glory. 

However, with Gasly moving to Red Bull Racing, Hartley's 2019 seat with Toro Rosso becomes more secure.

 McElrea continues to impress

Hunter McElrea (front) and his support team.
MYTCHALL BRANSGROVE/STUFF

Hunter McElrea (front) and his support team.


Three wins from three races was an impressive result for Queensland-based Kiwi Hunter McElrea at the new Tailem Bend circuit in South Australia last weekend. 

The teenager was able to continue his domination of the Australian National Formula Ford Championship, taking his third clean sweep of the year and increasing his lead in the series. 

Several categories at the Supercars round had Kiwi drivers in charge. Shane van Gisbergen took over the lead in the Supercar series from Scott McLaughlin while Jaxon Evans continues to lead the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia championship.

Benjamin Carrell is the online editor of talkmotorsport.co.nz

 - Stuff

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