Testing, testing at PIR
With the Grand Prix of Portland only one month away, the first IndyCar driver test finally took place at Portland International Raceway last week.
Zach Veach, 23, who is 17th in the season standings, described the 1.964-mile road course, with its long straightaways and flowing corners, as "very rhythmic."
Veach said many other tracks don't have the same rhythm "where it's three corners strung together with a single entry point. That's pretty fun, especially in an IndyCar."
Veach drives for Andretti Autosport and team owner Michael Andretti, who won in Portland in 1990-92.
The Sept. 2 Grand Prix will be the first race here for Indy cars since 2007, when Sebastien Bourdais took the checkered flag.
Bourdais is slated to return, along with all the other top drivers, including Andretti's Alexander Rossi, who won July 29 at Mid-Ohio.
Veach says qualifying will be key at PIR; that was the case during the Indy cars' 24-year run in Portland (1984-2007).
"It's going to be really hard to pass here, just because there are so many fast corners that you need a lot of downforce and you need clean air, which means not having a car in front of you," Veach says. "I think if you start up front, you have a pretty good chance of staying up front. But like with any IndyCar race, it takes smart choices and some dumb luck."
Veach has been able to keep his car running to the finish in all 13 of his starts, which has made him the second-ranked rookie, behind Robert Wickens, who is sixth in the standings. Veach has three top-10s, including a fourth early in the year at Long Beach, California.
"My goal is to finish in the top 10," Veach says of the Portland race. "That's been our rookie goal all year."
Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing) leads the points chase, followed by Rossi, Josef Newgarden and Will Power (Team Penske) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti) in the top five.
Two races are on tap before Portland's Aug. 31-Sept. 2 event. Next is the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania, on Aug. 19. Then comes the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Illinois, on Aug. 25.
Concordia University has named Lauren Eads as vice president and director of athletics.
Eads served as interim AD the past year and was CU's associate athletic director-business management before that.
• The Pac-12 men's golf championship has been awarded to Eugene Country Club for April 22-24, 2019. It'll be the first conference tournament at the club since 2007.
Portland's West Coast League summer baseball team is playing its final regular-season series before a showdown with the Corvallis Knights in the South Division playoffs.
The Pickles went into the week having won nine WCL games in a row (and 12 straight overall, counting three nonleague victories over the independent Gresham GreyWolves).
Portland's final regular-season games are Tuesday and Wednesday at the Victoria HarbourCats.
Hillsboro won't be at Ron Tonkin Field again until Monday, Aug. 20, for the start of an eight-game homestand — three vs. Eugene and five against Everett.
The Hops' next game is Thursday at Tri-City, where the teams will meet five times in five days. Hillsboro then has three games against Eugene at PK Park and three with Salem-Keizer at Volcanoes Stadium.
Going into the All-Star break, the Hops had lost three in a row (all at home to Vancouver), but still had the best overall record (31-20) in the Class A Northwest League.
Hillsboro and Everett won first-half division titles, securing NWL playoff spots.
The Mariners' recent skid made them appear to be who we thought they were — a good team with shortcomings in the pitching staff and a former ace in Felix Hernandez who could be nearing the end of the line.
Seattle ended a five-game skid with a 6-3 victory at home Sunday over Toronto, but recent losses have put the M's in catch-up mode in their quest to make the MLB playoffs.
This is a big week of AL West play for Seattle, which is at Texas through Wednesday, then at Houston for four games and at Oakland for three.
At that point, the Mariners will know a lot more about where they stand in battling the A's for the second and final AL wild-card playoff spot — with 40 games to go.
Portland will go into the NBA regular season after three closing exhibitions at Moda Center (Oct. 7 vs. Utah, Oct. 10 vs. Phoenix and Oct. 12 vs. Sacramento). The Blazers' other tuneup games are Sept. 29 vs. Toronto in Vancouver, B.C., and Oct. 5 at Phoenix.
The annual Neely Cup preseason tournament will take place at Moda Center for the first time. Scrimmages are 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Aug. 21-22; 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Aug. 23; and 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. on Aug. 24.
The annual Toyota Family Fun Fest will be Aug. 26 at the Winterhawks Skating Center in Beaverton.