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Portland Thursday Notebook

Ryan Myrehn’s Thursday notebook from Portland International Raceway…

Photo: Portland International Speedway

***Pirelli World Challenge is making its return to Portland International Raceway this weekend, marking the series’ first trip to the venue since 2005.

***Dino Crescentini won the GT event that year in a Corvette C6, leading a podium of Leighton Reese and Wolf Henzler. Randy Pobst was the winner in the Touring Car race in a Mazda 6, while Eric Curran and Matt Richmond joined him on the podium.

***Epic Motorsports driver James Clay, Pfaff Motorsports’ Henzler, and Blackdog Speed Shop’s Tony Gaples and Andy Pilgrim are the only drivers in this weekend’s field that took part in the most recent races in Portland in 2005. Peter Cunningham, whose RealTime Racing operation fields two Honda Civic Type-R TCR machines in the TCR class, also drove in the last PWC event at the track.

***Temperatures this weekend are expected to be significantly hotter than the daily average with high expected above 90 degrees Fahrenheit through Sunday, with no rain in the forecast. Highs on Sunday are forecasted to reach 97 degrees. The average temperature for Portland this time of year is around 80 degrees.

***Scott Hargrove enters the weekend trailing Toni Vilander by two points in the overall GT championship but with one advantage over the Finn. While Vilander is making his first appearance at Portland, Hargrove has club-level experience to draw from at the circuit, including a recent three-hour endurance race.

***While the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park round of the championship is in Hargrove’s home country of Canada, Portland is actually closer to home: just a five hour drive from his hometown of Surrey, British Columbia, making this something of a home race for Hargrove.

***The Canadian’s Pfaff outfit has begun getting its plans in order for 2019 with a goal of maintaining a presence in the GT category, while expanding to field a second Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR GTS entry next season appears to be in order.

***The unique paddock layout that is split by the race course and connected only by a pedestrian bridge when cars are on the track has led to two separate tech trailers, one on each side of the paddock to service all participants.

***While there was no official on track activity on Thursday, the circuit was still busy with activity of the two-wheeled variety.

***Thursday Night Motocross, billed by the track as “America’s Longest Running Nighttime Motocross Racing Series”, had the track buzzing with the sounds of motors well into the evening. Many riders were in town as a tuneup for the prestigious Washougal National motocross event in nearby Washougal, Wash. which is coming up July 25-28.

***Murillo Racing has gone to a backup Mercedes-AMG GT4 chassis for drivers Matt Fassnacht and Christian Szymczak following a heavy crash at Lime Rock Park while the original chassis undergoes repairs. The team recently completed a shakedown of the new chassis at Monticello Motor Club in New York.

***Fassnacht, who also is competing in a Audi Sport RS3 LMS for Murillo in the TCR class, said doubling up has helped him learn the tracks and added that lessons learned transfer surprisingly well between the two cars despite their different performance characteristics.

***Track activity begins Friday with a pair of practice sessions for both GT and GTS competitors. Live timing and scoring will be available here.

Ryan Myrehn is an Indianapolis-based journalist and sportscaster, covering IMSA and Pirelli World Challenge. Myrehn, a graduate of DePauw University, is also the host of Sportscar365's “Double Stint” Podcast.

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