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The Grand Prix of Portland, an IndyCar Series event, starts at noon Sunday; tickets are still available

COURTESY PHOTO: INDYCAR - ALEX PALOUAlex Palou is battling fellow young driver Pato O'Ward for the IndyCar Series championship.

On Sunday, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver will have the big advantage, at least at the start, earning the pole position for the Grand Prix of Portland at Portland International Raceway.

Palou had a top lap of 58.7701 seconds in the No. 10 PNC Bank Honda.

"I'm super happy with my first pole in IndyCar," said Palou, a Spaniard who had a crash and did not finish the previous race at Madison, Illinois, and a mechanical failure the race before on the road course at Indianapolis. "We're starting on the best position (Sunday), and we know we have a really fast car."

The 110-lap race on the 12-turn, 1.964-mile PIR road course starts at noon PT Sunday, live on KGW (8) and the IndyCar Radio Network.

It's a tight points race, as Palou trails Arrow McLaren SP driver O'Ward in points, 435 to 425.

"This motivates us," said Palou, 24. "But, we were already fully motivated. We all know that the last two race weekends we had, it was out of our control. So, we're fully laser-focused on these three races we have to get that championship home."

Andretti Autosports' Alexander Rossi, who's 12th in points, joins Palou on the front row.

Scott Dixon, the Ganassi star and six-time IndyCar champ, starts on the second row next to Felix Rosenqvist. Graham Rahal and Colton Herta — sons of former IndyCar drivers — start on the third row together.

O'Ward, 22 and a native of Monterey, Mexico, qualified seventh.

After O'Ward and Palou in the points standings are Team Penske's Josef Newgarden (413), Dixon (392) and Ganassi's Marcus Ericsson (375).

Will Power is the defending champion from 2019. The Portland race was cancelled last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It's the 27th year of open-wheel racing at PIR, which started with the CART series (1984-2003) and continued with Champ Car World Series (2004-07).

Support series are Indy Lights, ARCA Menards Series West and USAC National .25 Midget Series.

To view the full schedule and for ticket information, see Tickets are still available, as low as $20 for single-day general admission and $70 for single-day grandstand.

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