By Vincent Delforge, special to KickinTheTires.net
Total domination for championship leader Jake Drew at Portland International Raceway this Saturday, September 3, 2022. Pole position, fastest lap in the race and an undisputed victory. Apart from at the start where he was surprised by Todd Souza for the leadership, the Brucanti Racing driver will not have left any possibility for his opponents to challenge him for victory. It is his fourth victory of the season, his fourth in five races. He made the sweep in Portland and will remain undefeated this year on road circuits, as he also won the Sonoma race.
This 1001st race in history, the Portland 112, was run under a beautiful sun, unlike that of last June which had been interrupted following a real deluge.
Drew who is now mathematically more than a race ahead of second in the championship. Three races from the end of the season, he can look to the future with confidence. Barring a cataclysm, the championship should not escape him.
Friday was the practice. And at the end of it we did not imagine that Drew was going to walk quietly the next day towards Victory Lane. Indeed the pilots of Bill McAnally Racing seemed the fastest and with a good lead. Landen Lewis occupying the first position with 981 thousandths ahead of his teammate Cole Moore and 1.330 seconds over Drew. A session without LCR drivers Andrew Tuttle and Vince Little. Note the fuel pump problems that disrupted Bridget Burgess’ session.
The next day for qualifying, it was totally different. Drew taking pole, his sixth in his career, almost seven tenths ahead of veteran Todd Souza, still as fast on the road circuit and around a second better than the BMR duo led by Moore. The nice surprise coming from rookie Sean Hingorani who for his first career road race obtained a nice fifth position.
At the start, Drew was surprised by Souza who took control at the end of the first straight at the start of turn 4. As a reminder, like last June, only during the start and restarts, the drivers do not use the first chicane. But Drew will not panic for all that and after two laps, he will work to overtake with finesse by getting out better from the sequence of turns 7, 8 and 9. At the end of the backstretch, he is leader. A position he will not give up until the checkered flag.
Note that following an engine problem, Andrew Tuttle will not even be able to take the start. And Burgess to the rear for unapproved adjustments.
This does not mean that the race will not be contested within the pack. At least after the midway break.
Moore successively passed Lewis on the 9th lap for third position and Souza on the 13th lap to gain second position. Moore putting himself in the role of the main challenger for the leader Drew.
Until then, the race was interrupted for the first time by Hingorani who crashed in the tires barrier of turn 12 following a technical problem. His Toyota will be brought back to the pitlane, the Nascimento Racing team led by crew chief Ty Joiner will do everything to repair and find the solution to the problem and allow the rookie to return to the track to gain experience. But with one lap behind the leader, and the problems will not stop there for him. In total it is about twenty laps that he will lose on the leader..
At the restart, Drew controls while behind him, the fight rages between Moore, Souza, Lewis and Joey Iest. Takuma Koga is once again very comfortable on this track. On lap 21, Lewis overtook Souza for third position. We think that the BMR drivers have regained the speed they had during Friday practice but…
On lap 24, the second yellow flag was waved for debris in turn 1. It will also serve as a midway break. Newcomer Davey Magras gets the free pass.
Bill Sedgwick, Jake Drew’s crew chief, will not make any changes to the settings of the Ford n°6 as the latter is perfect!
It is at the restart that the race will change its appearance. Drew under pressure and a contact from Lewis enters Turn 4 more in the middle and veers off course to the outside, hitting and forcing Moore to jaunt to the grass Moore loses big as he dives from second to ninth position. And he will make another off-road jaunt the next lap in turn 12. Front left suspension damaged.
After finally a problem-free race at Evergreen, Iest, who was riding easily in the top-five, saw his race get complicated on the 29th lap when a coil wire came off. Stopped in turn 5, he can resume the race but with two laps behind. He will manage to save an eighth position at the end of the race.
Moore took advantage of this yellow flag to go through his pit box to repair some damage suffered at the previous restart. But he will lose a lap in the process.
At the restart, Lewis threatened Drew side by side until turn 6 but was unable to overtake him. He too will have to go back to the pitlane following a technical problem resulting of a contact in the previous restart with Drew and lose all hope of victory…
On the 39th lap the fourth and last yellow flag was waved following a double incident. Vince Little made a spun and Bridget Burgess who was doing a superb race, in fourth position at the time, had to immobilize her Chevrolet n°88 following a transmission problem. Her car will be returned to her pit box and her BMI team will receive help from the LCR team to solve the problem. Thanks to this she will manage to save a top10. Small consolation after such a great race by the young Australian. The free pass is for Cole Moore.
At the restart, Moore just arrived out of nowhere to join the fight for third position. How is it possible ? Thanks to a stolen start, which did not escape the vigilance of the officials. Verdict… a drive through penalty… which will take away all hope of victory… After taking his penalty, he will return to the track in seventh position. But thanks to a very good rhythm almost identical to the leader Drew, which is even more unfortunate, he will go up to fourth position after having successively overtaken Magras, Koga and Ryan Philpott.
Philpott who was riding a superb race in fifth position, heading for his first career top-five before being passed less than two laps from the finish by Takuma Koga. The Japanese getting his second top-five of the season, the first having already been obtained here in June in the rain. Better still, the driver of the #7 Toyota of Jerry Pitts Racing earning his third straight fifth position in Portland. We can say it, Koga and Portland, it’s a love story!
The only incident will be the magnificent 360° of Vince Little a few laps from the finish but without causing a caution. Drew will again widen the gap on his pursuers while taking no risk. Proof of his knowledge of driving and racing, he will wisely stay behind Magras who he could have taken a lap in the final lap to avoid risking an unnecessary incident. He took the checkered flag almost four seconds ahead of Todd Souza who obtained his best result of the year and his second podium in Portland this season (3rd in June).
Jake Drew therefore takes the victory and increases his lead to 52 points in the championship over his teammate Tanner Reif. The latter had a good race, discreet but efficient, finishing third. Moore, fourth in the race, now 55 points behind and Souza 60.
The top-10 of the race is completed by Philpott, who equals his best career result, Davey Magras who obtains a good seventh position for his debut with his small family team (with the help of Jerry Pitts Racing). Joey Iest, Landen Lewis and Bridget Burgess follow from eighth to tenth position. But for the three, the disappointment is huge as they could have hoped for much more.
Don’t miss this Wednesday the next article “Teams reactions and analysis” which will go into detail on the statistics and the race of each driver.
Complete race results: www.racing-reference.info/race-results/2022-08/AW/
Driver & owner standings: www.racing-reference.info/standings/2022/AW/
Next race on October 1st at the All American Speedway in Roseville, CA, for the NAPA AutoCare 150.
Featured Photo Credit: Photo Courtesy of Brian Hayes via Vincent Delforge.