Pagenaud Gets First Oval Win

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, April 30 2017

Simon Pagenaud won at Phoenix on Saturday night to log his first oval win.


Simon Pagenaud was born and raised a road racer. He is also a driver who like to conquer new challenges. Hence his elation after winning the IndyCar Series race at Phoenix International Raceway’s oval on Saturday night.

“I can’t explain how excited I am,” the Frenchman said. “Ovals are not my specialty. I grew up in Europe racing go-karts. I learned about ovals when I was 26 years old, so I had to learn the skill and the technique that I didn’t know. Man, this is incredible. What a win.”

The victory was the 2016 IndyCar champion’s first on an oval.

He took the lead on lap 137 of the 250-lap contest and drove to win at a record average speed of 144.058 mph – the first time any driver has ever averaged more than 140 mph in a race at the tricky one-mile oval.

The key moment of the race came on lap 138. Pagenaud had been running a close third behind Team Penske teammates Will Power and Helio Castroneves when the lead pair dashed into the pits for fuel and tires. Pagenaud stayed out and inherited the lead when Takuma Sato drifted wide coming out of Turn 4 and made contact with the outside wall.

While under caution, Pagenaud was able to pit for service and retain the top position. The lead quartet of Pagenaud, Power, Castroneves and Josef Newgarden ran in close quarters at different times during the final 113 laps, but Pagenaud dodged and weaved to get around traffic and keep his pursuers at bay.

“On the pit stops these guys never make any mistakes – I can completely rely on them and the car was just incredible from the beginning to the end,” Pagenaud said. “The car was so strong at the beginning of the race; we were able to save fuel in traffic. And it paid off with that lucky yellow but we’ve had our fair share of bad luck too this year so it doesn’t hurt sometimes to have a little break.”

Power finished second while J.R. Hildebrand was third.

“It was good night considering where we’ve finished the last few races,” Power said. “I’m happy to finish second and get some points. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much of a race to be had after that final yellow because there were so many (lapped) cars in between.”


Results Saturday of the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 1.022-mile Phoenix Raceway, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, aero kit-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (5) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 250, Running
2. (2) Will Power, Chevrolet, 250, Running
3. (3) JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 250, Running
4. (1) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 250, Running
5. (8) Scott Dixon, Honda, 249, Running
6. (6) Tony Kanaan, Honda, 249, Running
7. (21) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, 248, Running
8. (14) Charlie Kimball, Honda, 248, Running
9. (4) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 248, Running
10. (19) Carlos Munoz, Chevrolet, 247, Running
11. (16) Ed Jones, Honda, 247, Running
12. (11) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 246, Running
13. (12) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 220, Mechanical
14. (20) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 180, Running
15. (15) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 141, Contact
16. (18) Takuma Sato, Honda, 135, Contact
17. (7) Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, 0, Contact
18. (9) Marco Andretti, Honda, 0, Contact
19. (10) Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 0, Contact
20. (13) Max Chilton, Honda, 0, Contact
21. (17) Graham Rahal, Honda, 0, Contact

Race Statistics:
Winner’s average speed: 144.058
Time of Race: 1:46:24.9473
Margin of victory: 9.1028 seconds
Cautions: 2 for 32 laps
Lead changes: 4 among 4 drivers

Lap Leaders:
Castroneves 1-73
Newgarden 74-75
Pagenaud 76-77
Power 78-136
Pagenaud 137-250

Verizon IndyCar Series point standings: Pagenaud 159, Dixon 141, Newgarden 133, Bourdais 128, Hinchcliffe 120, Castroneves 118, Power 91, Kanaan 87, Hunter-Reay 82, Jones 81.

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, April 30 2017
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