(LONG BEACH, CA) – Despite receiving a warning for a pit lane infraction, Simon Pagenaud finally broke through to the winner’s circle this season at the Grand Prix of Long Beach. After finishing 2nd in each of the Grand Prix at St Petersburg and Phoenix, Pagenaud led Scott Dixon over the finish line by just 0.3032 seconds to claim victory. It was the Frenchman’s fifth Indycar career win.
Following Pagenaud and Dixon in 3rd was Helio Castroneves.
“This is my favourite street course,” said Pagenaud. “To win here, especially in INDYCAR, given the level of competition, is amazing.“
Pagenaud led the final 25 laps of the 80 lap circuit after taking over from team mate Castroneves. Dixon believed that Pagenaud deserved a harsher penalty than just the warning issued.
“It appeared that Simon turned a little early and crossed the line (exiting the pits) that you’re not meant to cross,” Dixon said. “But it is what it is, so second place today and Team Target did a hell of a job.”
Win the win, Pagenaud leaps to the front of the pack in the IndyCar standings. He has 134 points, 14 more than Dixon with Juan Pablo Montoya, who finished 4th at Long Beach, in 3rd with 106.
Pagenaud was winless in 2015, with 3rd place finishes at Mid-Ohio and in the first race in Detroit. Castroneves is still winless in 2016 after starting from the pole position twice in the first three races.
Oakville’s James Hinchcliffe landed his first top-10 finish since last year’s crash during practice for the Indianapolis 500. The Mayor of Hinchtown took 8th spot after qualifying 7th.
All the teams are now gearing up for the 90 lap, 207 mile Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama this Saturday. Practice laps are currently underway at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham. Sebastien Bourdais has posted the fastest lap time thus far at 1:07.3399 on the 2.38 mile road course.
Josef Newgarden won at Barber last season after Castroneves took the pole at 1:07.1925. The fastest qualifying lap, however, belongs to Dixon who completed the clockwise course in 1:06.7750, or 123.999 mph, in April of 2013.
Top-10 finishers at Long Beach
1. (3) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 80, Running
2. (2) Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, 80, Running
3. (1) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 80, Running
4. (5) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 80, Running
5. (8) Takuma Sato, Honda, 80, Running
6. (4) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 80, Running
7. (6) Will Power, Chevrolet, 80, Running
8. (7) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 80, Running
9. (14) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 80, Running
10. (9) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 80, Running