BY JIM MILLER WEEKLY INDYCAR WRITER
Simon Pagenaud (No. 22 PPG Menards Chevrolet, Team Penske) continued his dominance by winning his third IndyCar race in a row at the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis. This is the Frenchman’s second time winning the champion trophy in this Grand Prix’s three-year history. So far this season Pagenaud has finished no worse than second place.
Pagenaud, who qualified for the pole position, led the 25-car field to the green flag in Saturday’s 82-lap race on the 2.439-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
“What a day. Three races! It’s incredible to win three in a row like this and here in Indy for me, it’s very special. I lived here for nine years so this place is very special in my heart,” Pagenaud said after the race.
Like last year the race started with a Lap 1 Turn 1 incident. This year it involved Tony Kanaan sliding left to avoid Chip Ganassi teammate Scott Dixon but as result ended up pinning Sebastien Bourdais (KVSH Racing Chevrolet) into the outside retaining wall. Kanaan was done for the day, Bourdais returned but ultimately retired out of the race recording only 20 laps.
Unseasonably low temperatures in the 50’s resulted in set-up changes to the cars affecting both the tires and pit strategies. Pit stops allowed a handful of lead changes in the middle of the race, but Pagenaud had a brief 6.7-second four-tire and fuel pit stop on Lap 63 that put him back on track in front of Helio Castroneves (No. 3 hum by Verizon Team Penske Chevy). Pagenaud steadily pulled away to a 4.4748-second victory.
Castroneves took second place and James Hinchcliffe’s return to the Brickyard after his serious injury during last year’s Indy 500 practice gave him a strong finish coming in third. Graham Rahal placed fourth after having his grid position changed from third to twenty-fourth due to failing post-qualifying technical inspections with his car being underweight. Josef Newgarden was also penalized for the same reason but could only climb to finish in twenty-first place.
Pagenaud grew his lead in the point standings to 242 points, 76 over reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon, who finished seventh today.
Monday following the Grand Prix the track set-up changes and the drivers go the opposite direction on the oval beginning the two week’s practice and preparation for the upcoming 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil begins on Monday, May 16th.