Takuma Sato wins in IndyCar’s return to Portland

Takuma Sato won the IndyCar race in Portland on Sept. 2, 2018. (Matt Slocum / Associated Press)

PORTLAND, Ore. – Scott Dixon somehow salvaged his championship run with an improbable comeback Sunday at Portland International Raceway to take control of his race to a fifth IndyCar title.

Dixon finished fifth, far behind race winner Takuma Sato, but put together the kind of drive that may define his season. He started 11th, was collected in an opening-lap crash, penalized for speeding on pit road and twice drove through the field from 20th.

His Chip Ganassi Racing team was forced to change its strategy several times, and caution flag helped Dixon cycle ahead of the other championship contenders. He goes to the Sept. 16 season finale with a 29-point over Alexander Rossi.

Sato also benefited from caution flags to win for the third time in his career and first since he won the Indianapolis 500 last season.

Ryan Hunter-Reay nearly caught Sato over the final two laps but wound up second. Sebastien Bourdais, the last winner of an open wheel race at Portland in 2007, was third.

Portland hosted 24 consecutive open wheel events but none the last 11 years. The return of IndyCar was met by enthusiastic fans and a Pacific Northwest crowd starving for a look at major league racing. The fans got a show when the race began with a multi-car accident that sent Marco Andretti through the air, over two cars and upside down into the dirt.