(BIRMINGHAM, AL) – Simon Pagenaud is on a roll after taking the checkered flag at a second straight race, this time at the Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park. Pagenaud led 84 of the 90-lap race to exert his dominance over the field.
“I am just so excited,” he said post race. “Another green flag race I guess. We made it exciting at the end for the fans which is great. I am happy there was some action.”
The race winner referred to a late push by Graham Rahal, who over took Pagenaud on the 82nd lap. The only other driver to lead the race on the day, Rahal’s challenge lasted a brief four laps before Pagenaud regained the lead with four laps remaining.
“We should have won today,” said Rahal. “There is no doubt that we were better than [Pagenaud].”
The Frenchman picked up 54 points at Barber to extend his IndyCar points lead to 188, 48 more than 2nd place Scott Dixon.
“We are just on a roll,” Pagenaud said. “The car is amazing and I am so comfortable driving that PPG car.”
Pagenaud averaged 114.254mph as he completed the 90 laps 13.75 seconds in front of Rahal, who clipped Jack Hawksworth while lapping the No. 41 car on lap 85. The miscue allowed Pagenaud to regain the lead when Rahal’s front wing was damaged. Josef Newgarden also finished on the podium with a 3rd place ranking, after a successful qualifying run at Barber.
“We were good today. I think we were there, we just didn’t have enough for those first few guys,” Newgarden said. “We will regroup and try to do a little bit better. We weren’t far off.”
After four races this year, Pagenaud has two 2nd placements and two firsts.
Canadian James Hinchcliffe continued to improve since returning to the IndyCar series. After qualifying 8th, the Oakville native moved up to finish 6th for his highest result this season.
“It was a solid day,” he said. “Being able to move up a couple spots was good … but it’s good two weekends in a row to come out with strong finishes and we’ll hopefully keep this momentum going into the month of May.”
The circuit now prepares for the Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 14, the prelude to the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 two weeks later on May 29. They’ll then make their way to Detroit for the only dual race weekend on the calendar on June 4 and 5.