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Pagenaud’s Domination Extends To Indianapolis

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 14 2016
Simon Pagenuad made it three straight victories on Saturday. (Photos courtesy of INDYCAR)

Simon Pagenuad made it three straight victories on Saturday. (Photos courtesy of INDYCAR)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

Simon Pagenaud’s dominating start to the 2016 season rolled into Indianapolis this weekend and shows no signs of abating.

Pagenaud, who had won the previous two IndyCar Series races – in Long Beach, Calif. and bugindycarBirmingham, Ala. –and finished as runner-up in the other two races this season, won Saturday’s Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the infield road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“Three in a row, it’s incredible,” he said after planging a big kiss on his dayglo yellow car. “Especially these days in IndyCar. Having this kind of domination is incredible. It’s not just me. It’s the whole team. This car is magical.”

A fourth straight victory would mean the world to Pagenaud because that would mean he had won the Indianapolis 5oo, which is scheduled for two weeks from Sunday.

The victory was the second for Pagenaud in the Indy GP.

The Team Penske driver, who started from the pole in his No. 22 Chevrolet, picked up the lead for the final time during the final pit stops of the day and sprinted away from teammate Helio Castroneves to get the victory.

“We new we didn’t have the fastest fastest car but we had the heart, man,” Castroneves, who will be looking to win his fourth Indy 500 this year. “This is great momentum for the Indy 500.”

James Hinchcliffe of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports finished third.

“For us, a really good day,” Hinchcliffe, who said he will donate his prize money to victims of wildfires in his home country of Canada. “We’re happy for a lot of reasons. Great momentum into the 500 and we’ll see what we can do from here.”

Graham Rahal of Rahal Letterman Racing, who was forced to start from the back of the field after he was penalized for excessive weight on pole day, and Charlie Kimball of Chip Ganassi Racing rounded out the top five.

“These are the days that build character,” Rahal said. “Our backs were up against the wall for sure. To come out and have a result like that is pretty awesome. Twenty-fourth to fourth is better than I expected today. With the cold I’ve got, I’m going to sleep well tonight. This one took it all out of me. The Steak ‘n Shake boys do a great job for me, great strategy again, topping off on that early yellow, going a little bit long on that stint, getting into that top eight, I think, after one stint was good. After that we just kind of chunked away. We were on the blacks at the wrong time when everyone else was on reds, but to still make up three spots on that (last) restart was pretty good.”

Rookie Conor Daly had the race lead when the final series of pit stops began under green on about Lap 60 of the 82-lap race. Castroneves was second and Pagenaud third.

But a terrific stop by Pagenaud, with quick quick in- and out-laps, got him the lead.

“I went faster than any other lap on the in-lap,” the Frenchman said. “Kyle Moyer (team manager and car strategist) told me that I had to go. I knew it was going to be the chance to get back in the lead. The pit sequence was so important. With the temperature being so low, it was very difficult on the out-lap to get the tires going. I knew this was my chance so I drove as hard as I could. I drove into pitlane like a rally car so it but worked out! The pit crew did a fantastic job on that stop. That was an easy last stint. Thank you so much! I’m so glad for Menards. They just joined Team Penske. Obviously, Team Penske is the best in the business but having this livery and being the driver of that livery is very special.”

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INDIANAPOLIS – Results Saturday of the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 2.439-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (1) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 82, Running
2. (13) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 82, Running
3. (3) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 82, Running
4. (24) Graham Rahal, Honda, 82, Running
5. (2) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 82, Running
6. (22) Conor Daly, Honda, 82, Running
7. (7) Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, 82, Running
8. (6) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 82, Running
9. (15) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 82, Running
10. (12) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 82, Running
11. (18) Spencer Pigot, Honda, 82, Running
12. (17) Carlos Munoz, Honda, 82, Running
13. (9) Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, 82, Running
14. (11) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 82, Running
15. (19) Marco Andretti, Honda, 82, Running
16. (14) Matt Brabham, Chevrolet, 82, Running
17. (23) Gabby Chaves, Honda, 82, Running
18. (20) Takuma Sato, Honda, 82, Running
19. (10) Will Power, Chevrolet, 82, Running
20. (4) Jack Hawksworth, Honda, 82, Running
21. (25) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 82, Running
22. (16) JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 81, Running
23. (21) Alex Tagliani, Honda, 81, Running
24. (8) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 20, Mechanical
25. (5) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 0, Contact

Race Statistics
Winners average speed:  108.784 mph
Time of Race: 1:50:18.5823
Margin of victory: 4.4748 seconds
Cautions: 2 for 10 laps
Lead changes: 7 among 5 drivers

Lap Leaders:
Pagenaud 1 – 21
Kimball 22 – 23
Rahal 24 – 25
Pagenaud 26 – 40
Castroneves 41 – 45
Daly 46 – 59
Castroneves 60 – 61
Pagenaud 62 – 82

Verizon IndyCar Series point standings: Pagenaud 242, Dixon 166, Montoya 160, Castroneves 159, Rahal 133, Kanaan 111, Kimball 111, Hinchcliffe 110, Hunter-Reay 109, Power 105.

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, May 14 2016
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