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IndyCar Champion Pagenaud Talks About New Season & Team Dynamics

IndyCar Champion Pagenaud Talks About New Season & Team Dynamics

We are talking with the current 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series Champion and member at Team Penske super-team for 2017, Simon Pagenaud.

The 32-year-old Frenchman drives the No. 1 PPG Industries Chevrolet/Dallara for Team Penske, along side team-mates, Helio Castroneves, Will Power, and new addition ... Josef Newgarden.

He earned the 2012 IndyCar Sunoco Rookie of the Year and the 2010 American LeMans Series Championship in Gil de Ferran's last year of competition.

Known to drive anything, Simon even competed in the Pikes Peak Hill Climb in 2013 driving a modified Honda Odyssey minivan, modified with an IndyCar engine, to finish second in class.

Now in his seventh full season in the Verizon IndyCar Series, Simon has fourteen wins, including the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis in 2014, and is the defending champion of the Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach.

In 2014, then Schmidt Peterson Motorsports' Simon Pagenaud at The Grove in Los Angeles pictured here with the championship trophy, The Astor Cup in advance of the MAVTv 500 IndyCar finale at Auto Club Speedway. Current Penske Racing team-mate Will Power ended the season by taking this trophy home for his first VICS Championship. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks

Welcome Penske Racing's latest champion driver, Simon Pagenaud ...

First, tell us a little about PPG Industries and some of the background behind your sponsorship for the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

After, what seemed like an eternity, the Verizon IndyCar Series got back into action with the first race of the 2017 season with the trditional opening race at St. Petersburg. You had qualified P14 after showing top 10 or better pace during the practices. Tell us about your thinking racing against the NEW Honda package and what you learned in the practices before the race started in St. Pete.

In the pre-race interview, you mentioned that it might rain before the race ended, and this might help you to advance through the field. What actually happened was that it rained carbon fiber in the re-configured Turn 3 and race tactics seemed to play out from there. What were your reflections on the Turn 3 incident, and what other key elements helped, to lead to your eventual finish on the podium at P2, behind fellow Frenchman & 4-time champion, Dale Coyne's Sebastien Bourdais, and ahead of 4-time champion Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon? ... That's quite a podium bookend!

Last year, once you captured the lead in the points winning three races in a row, your only competition for this lead came from team-mates except for Josef Newgarden, who, at the time, raced for Ed Carpenter Racing. How is it being on a team where the top points finishers for the season are also your cheif competition?

How is it being the leader on a team accepting a new driver to the team, Josef Newgarden, when that was the position you were in just a couple of years earlier? How does this shape relationships?

Just this month, Graham Rahal posted a video showing the final laps of the Rainguard Water Sealers 600 at Texas Motor Speedway with the extreme and professional close in racing where you were in the mix and just missed the podium in fourth place. From your perspective, what was this like for you and ... do you believe you would have won if your championship position wasn't in the balance?

Last year, the Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach was one for the record books - NO YELLOW Flags and very tight timing on the pitstops - especially with the pit-in and pit-out rules. Other than winning, what is the memory of the race that sticks out in your first win in the rite-of-spring concrete canyons of Long Beach ... also, which corner/section is your favorite?

This year at The Beach looks like something that may be a little harder to "game out" - in that, we have a better performing Honda package overall, and a resurgance of a three-time winner of the course with Sebastien Bourdais, who finished 6th in the points last year and seems to be rolling in with all the confidence in the world ("just like old times"). What are you thinking going into this second race of the season?

7b) How do you like having the season start with two temporary street courses that generally require a greater degree of precesion than many of the other venues the Verizon IndyCar Series is known for.

Here's wishing you a great 43rd Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach, Thanks Simon ...

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: Simon Pagenaud, Verizon IndyCar Series, PPG Industries, Penske Racing, 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series Champion, Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach, #TGPLB42, #TGPLB43, Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, The EDJE


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