Pagenaud To Join Team Penske

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, September 29 2014

Frenchman Simon Pagenaud is moving to Penske next season.


Team Penske announced Monday that it is adding Simon Pagenaud as a fourth driver to its IndyCar Series team.

The 30-year-old Pagenaud is a four-time race winner in the Series. He will join 2014 series champion Will Power, multiple Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves and Indy 500 winner/former Formula One star Juan Pablo Montoya at Penske.

Pagenaud will drive the Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet beginning next season.

After finishing among the top five in the championship standings each of the last three seasons, Pagenaud is viewed as one of the top drivers competing in the  Series. The native of Poitiers, France earned two wins, one pole, three podium finishes and eight top-five results in 2014 while finishing fifth in the title chase.

“Simon Pagenaud is a very talented, focused and determined driver,” said Roger Penske, whose team won the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series title with driver Will Power. “We know how tough he has been to compete with over the last few seasons and we are very happy to welcome him to Team Penske starting in 2015. With Simon coming on board to join Will, Helio (Castroneves) and Juan (Montoya), we feel we have four drivers very capable of winning on any given weekend and four guys who are legitimate championship contenders.”

He won the Champ Car Atlantic Series open-wheel title as a rookie in 2006 and he produced four wins en route to the American Le Mans Series sports car LMP1 crown in 2010. With a diverse background that includes racing in the European Formula Renault series, Pagenaud has also excelled in sports car competition with starts at the 24 Hours of Le Mans as well as the Rolex 24 at Daytona on his resume.

“Getting a chance to race for Team Penske is almost like a dream to me,” said Pagenaud. “I have always admired the team and everything that Roger Penske has accomplished in racing. I am so excited to become a part of Team Penske and I can’t wait for the 2015 season to start.”

Tim Cindric, Team Penske president, said expanding the team will be a challenge.

“It’s the first time we’ve run four cars with Team Penske, so it will certainly be a challenge. But when you have someone like Simon who may seem as though maybe this has been something that we’ve looked at here in the short‑term, that’s not necessarily the case.

“Simon had obviously had an association with (former Team Penske driver) Gil (de Ferran) back in the Sports Car days when we were running the ALMS program, and that’s where we took notice of what his capabilities were. You know, really this has been the opportunity that we’ve had to bring him on board.

“If that meant changing to a four‑car program, that’s what we were prepared to do. We feel like any time you can expand an organization, certainly it’s satisfying to know that we can continue to add to the Team Penske heritage, and bringing Simon on board was certainly an added plus to that. So, certainly looking forward to the challenge ahead.”

At Penske, Pagenaud will become a teammate with a driver with whom he’s had problems on the track in the recent past.

Those problems are no problems, Pagenaud said.

“Will is a champion,” he said. “He’s a tremendous driver. Yes, we’ve had contact on track and all that, but you need to grow as a driver. We’re quite mature now. We’ve known each other for a long time and been good teammates. I enjoyed very much working together at the time. I think it’s going to be our job to make it work for the team at Team Penske. It’s a great opportunity, certainly for me, but for all of us here. I don’t see any problem. I don’t see any reason why it won’t work well. Actually, it is going to work well.”

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Monday, September 29 2014
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