Third Straight For Pagenaud, Tune-Up Begins For 500

Header-image-Shalapata-columnBy Ian Shalapata

(INDIANAPOLIS, IN) – Against all odds, Simon Pagenaud raced to his third straight victory, the latest track to fall victim being the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Pagenaud, 31, took the checkered flag after qualifying and starting from the pole position on the 2.439 mile road course at the Indianapolis Speedway.

The Frenchman completed the requisite 82 laps at 108.784mph, leading finishing 4.4748 seconds ahead of teammate Helio Castroneves.

“It’s pretty fun right now, let me tell you,” Pagenaud said after qualifying. “Certainly it’s suiting me really well right now. I’m in a good zone. The whole team is executing really well.”

After the race, Pagenaud was even happier.

“The car was fantastic once again. The balance was perfect all race,” he said. “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.”

Pagenaud has now collected 242 points on the year, and hasn’t finished worse than second place in any of the first five races.

Castroneves credits good fortune and a skilled team for his 2nd place finish.

“We never gave up because we knew we had issues and knew we didn’t have the fastest car. But we had the heart, man. We had the passion,” said Castroneves. “We put it out there and had a little bit of luck, obviously, but it all blends together. A great sauce. I can’t thank the guys enough but, again, it was a total team effort.”

James Hinchcliffe is seen a file photo at the 2014 INDYCAR Belle Isle Grand Prix  in Detroit.Photo by Ian Shalapata.

James Hinchcliffe is seen a file photo at the 2014 INDYCAR Belle Isle Grand Prix in Detroit. The Canadian driver donated $15,000 of his winnings from the 2016 Grand Prix of Indianapolis to the Red Cross to help with the Fort McMurray relief efforts.
Photo by Ian Shalapata.

Joining Pagenaud and Castroneves on the podium was Canadian James Hinchcliffe. Moving up from qualifying in the 4th spot, the Mayor of Hinchtown seems to have shaken the monkey of qualifying high, but finishing down the list.

“We had a great car. Got caught up on some of the restarts there but the guys were awesome in the pits,” said the Oakville native. “We were way quicker than Helio [Castroneves] but just didn’t have enough to get by him. Great result.”

Hinchcliffe pledged $15,000 of his winnings to the Canadian Red Cross to assist in relief for the Fort McMurray wildfires.

Pagenaud sits atop the series points leaders with 242. He’s followed by Scott Dixon with 166, who started and finished in 7th on Saturday. In third place is Juan Pablo Montoya with 160. Rounding out the top five are Castroneves (159) and Graham Rahal (133).

The tams and drivers now prepare for the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 with practice starting this week. Qualifying for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing takes place May 21-22 with the race to run May 29.

The entry list for the 500 was released today and features six former winners, including Dixon, Castroneves, Montoya, Buddy Lazier, Tony Kanaan, and Ryan Hunter-Reay. There will also be five rookies, two Canadians, and one woman.

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About the Author

Ian Shalapata
Ian writes for and provides imagery to Square Media Group as well as accepting freelance photographic assignments. In addition, he has contributed to media organizations, sporting groups, and individuals across North America including the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, Chatham-Kent Sports Network, the Golf Association of Michigan, League 1 Ontario, as well as numerous colleges and universities in Canada and the United States. Email Ian Shalapata
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