Paddock Buzz: Pagenaud, Power Pleased with Poised Podiums – INDYCAR
Amid the chaos of Saturday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES wet race were two happy veteran drivers known for their success at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Simon Pagenaud and Will Power, a pair of Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge winners with a combined eight IMS road course victories, stood on the podium with smiles nearly as big as that of GMR Grand Prix winner Colton Herta.
Meyer Shank Racing’s Pagenaud drove the No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda from the 20th starting position to finish second while Power, the driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, used a third-place finish to vault to the series points lead after five races.
In pursuit of his second series championship, Power has finished third, fourth, fourth, fourth and third in races this season as he continues to exhibit consistency.
“If I had the car to win and chance to win without big risk, I would definitely have gone for it,” Power said of Saturday’s cautious performance. “If it had been a constant (weather) condition, it would have been a different story, but it was just too easy to get caught out by a patch of water.
“It was just a day to be smart and finish.”
Pagenaud led all drivers with 28 passes for position, with the competitive and unpredictable race featuring 362 overall. The Frenchman said he passed seven cars on the opening lap and continued to overhaul more as his team made good strategy calls with each turn of the weather.
“We had a good start, jumped all the way to 13th right away,” he said. “Then pit stop sequence (to) 11th. Then after that ninth. Then seventh. Then it started raining. Then fifth. Then (Scott) McLaughlin and (Alex) Palou had problems, so third. So on and so forth.
“We made a lot of passes on track, for sure, and had some very good exchange in the pit stops. That made a difference.”
Pagenaud called it “one of my most rewarding races” of his career.
“It’s funny, sometimes second feels like a win,” he said. “I would have loved to have won today, but I’m taking this (trophy) home. Everybody (on the team) was so excited. It’s nice to feel such support from your race team and feel like, yeah, tonight we’re probably going to celebrate like it was a win.”
Herta: Savvy Beyond His Years
Herta’s victory in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda gave the Andretti Autosport organization its first race victory on the IMS road course after five wins on the oval. How the 21-year-old held Pagenaud back in the closing laps illustrated his experience that belies his age.
As an example, Herta said he was watching the TV monitors on the inside of the track to decide where to put his car late in the rainy race. He said each time he saw Pagenaud adjust his line behind him he adjusted his to create more spray.
“I was giggling in my helmet,” he said.
Rosenqvist Recovers from Teammate Contact
Felix Rosenqvist (No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet) had one of the strangest days, starting with getting collected by teammate Pato O’Ward (No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet) on Lap 42.
Rosenqvist’s car stalled after the contact, shuffling him to the 21st position after starting sixth. But he kept battling and got back to his original position.
“Such an …….