"Hearst Magazines and Yahoo may earn commission or revenue on some items through these links."
Graham Rahal hasn't had a whole lot to smile about this season in the NTT IndyCar Series.
He sure was smiling on Saturday in Portland.
Winless since 2017, the Rahal Letterman Lanigan driver is in a great position to break that streak after winning the pole for Sunday's BITNILE.com Grand Prix of Portland. Rahal had a quick lap of 58.3195 seconds to win his second pole of 2023. Rahal's first pole of the season came just two races ago at the Gallagher Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, where Rahal eventually finished runner-up in the race to Scott Dixon.
This is the first time Rahal has won two IndyCar poles in the same season since 2009. This one was the fifth of his career.
“Everybody has pushed so hard to get our team back to this point and it’s nice to have two poles in the past three races here at the end of the year," Rahal said. "Hopefully, we can finish this deal off tomorrow and get a win in the PeopleReady Honda. It would be pretty sweet.
"We used less black’s (primary Firestone tires) through the whole weekend so far than everybody else so we had sets to use. We felt our car was very fast on blacks. It was good on red’s too, but I thought that blacks were the power play there. I feel our race car is better than our qualifying car to be honest. We’ll see how warmup goes here shortly but it felt really good to put that lap in. We’ll focus on having good stops, the strategy will hopefully be straightforward.”
Last year's race winner here, Scott McLaughlin, qualified second at 58.3525 in the No. 3 Freightliner Team Penske Chevrolet. He won this race from the pole last year, leading 104 of 110 laps.
“We have a great car,” McLaughlin said. “It was the same car we ran last year, so hopefully we’ll be okay.”
As for the two remaining championship contenders in this second-to-last race of the NTT IndyCar Series season, Scott Dixon qualified fourth at 58.5803, and Alex Palou was fifth at 58.6492. Dixon trails Palou by 74 points in the standing. He must cut that deficit to at least 53 points to keep any mathematical chance at a championship alive.
Palou can close out Dixon by finishing 11th or better, regardless of where Dixon finishes.