Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Simon Pagenaud Interview – Post Toronto And Before Auto Club Speedway’s #MAVTv500

Simon Pagenaud exits Turn 10 during qualifications (P2) for the Honda Indy Toronto. Image Credit: Chris Owens

Simon Pagenaud Interview – Post Toronto And Before Auto Club Speedway’s MAVTv500

With only six races left in a shortened, messy, and much complicated sixteen race season, we find ourselves facing a series of oval races leading to a season finale at the famed road track located near the San Francisco bay area - Sonoma Raceway.

The 2015 series season began by not beginning as it was scheduled ... through a late cancellation of the first race.

The anticipated new aerodynamics body work created and added to the Dallara DW12 chassis by engine providers Chevy and Honda has had many problems including, lack of allowable testing, durability, trailing turbulence, and changes ordered by Race Control.

Decision making in race management by Race Control has been inconsistent in its application of penalties, the changing of the consequences of penalties, assessing penalties post race where if assessed during the race may have changed order outcomes, inconsistent Flag Control over the race track by leaving the track under Full Course Yellow when a Red Flag condition would be correct call and vice versa - conditions resulted in potential changes in race end outcomes and championship points.

With this as an overlay for the 2015 season, the racing on the track has probably been the most challenging and professional across the board the fans have been treated to in years. The 99th INDY 500 ... especially the last 20 laps were some of the best the old brickyard has ever produced.

IndyCar driver, Simon Pagenaud (left) shares a laugh with Edmund Jenks (The EDJE) before the Toyota Grand Prix Of Long Beach. Image Credit: Ken Manfred (2015)

We are talking with the latest addition of a 4 driver line up at Team Penske super-team for 2015, Simon Pagenaud.

The Verizon IndyCar Series finds itself with a weekend off between this last weekend's street course race at Toronto and the superspeedway 500 mile challenge of Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California ... after an intense nine consecutive weekends of either testing, qualifying or racing.

The 31-year-old Frenchman drives the #22 Penske Truck Leasing Chevrolet/Dallara for Team Penske, along side, Helio Castroneves, Will Power, and Juan Pablo Montoya.

Now in his fourth full season in the Verizon IndyCar Series, Simon has four wins, including the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis in 2014.

In qualifications, Simon has been in the Firestone Fast Six phase of Knockout Qualifying of every street/road course session since the beginning of the season which has had Simon secure three top-five finishes in those six races this season, and after last weekend's Honda Indy Toronto, moved up one position to 10th in the point standings.

He earned the 2012 IndyCar Sunoco Rookie of the Year and is a 2010 American LeMans Series Champion.

Known to drive anything, Simon competed in the Pikes Peak Hill Climb in 2013 driving a modified Honda Odyssey minivan and finishing second in class.

Welcome Simon Pagenaud ...

@simonpagenaud is about to dive into a corned beef sammie at the famous @cantersdeli #indycar - Image Credit: David Hovis Team Penske (2015)


The start time of the Honda Indy Toronto was moved up in order to have the race be run between predicted rain cells, and Race Control called for a single-file start.

What was your reaction to this call given that you were able to qualify P2 next to your pole sitting team-mate Will Power?


Throughout the first half of the race, especially when the track became dryer, there was speculation with the on-air broadcast team (primarily Paul Tracy) that you seemed to have a set up that was better in the dry - they observed that you were challenging Will Power with a stronger car.

Further, they mentioned that this race in Toronto, Penske Racing took some of the first year team orientation restrictions off to allow you greater freedom in the set-up with engineers.

What type of new things - I believe Tracy used the term, ARTIFACTS - were you able to bring forward to effect in the car's set up and how did this workout in the communications with the pits?


In an effort to promote more overtaking at Verizon IndyCar Series road- and street-course races, Race Control announced just after qualifications and before the race that it will no longer display entrants' push-to-pass counts and usage via indicators in its timing and scoring software.

Was there any post race discussion between the folks - drivers and pit crew - about if this helped or hurt racing on the track?


Last question on Toronto, Following a FULL COURSE Yellow on Lap 40, on the Lap 46 GREEN Flag re-start, you almost got by Will Power, then your car seemed to not have as much for the rest of the race - what happened?


Simon, they have a saying in American Rules Football that it is a game of inches ... at the INDY 500 this year, you were in the thick of the competition all race until near the end when your front wing got clipped by just an inch or two.

If this did not happen, did you have a car to be at the front? ... and how would you have been able to be at the line of bricks, first, against team-mates Will Power and eventual winner Juan Pablo Montoya in the end? What was your plan?


The Auto Club Speedway holds two world records for speed - one for qualifications and the other for laps at race speed in traffic. In fact, one of those records is held by a former team-mate you raced with during the final season of his career, Gil de Ferran.

With friends and colleagues like this in the paddock, how do you feel about the track and qualifying at Auto Club Speedway on Friday, June 26th?


The race is scheduled to be run in the afternoon with cable NBC Sports Network broadcast window starting at 1:00pm ... and the race scheduled to start at 1:30pm and run to 4:45pm Pacific Time.

What challenges are posed to you, racing three-years in a late-afternoon to evening window for a season finale, to now, competing in a 500 mile, 200 lap race all in the afternoon with five more races to go ... most of on them ovals?


So Simon, do you have any special plans for the weekend off from racing?

Here's wishing you a great MAVTv500, Thanks Simon ...

For additional information on Auto Club Speedway's MAVTv 500 and fan activities that include a driver autograph session, Driver’s Story Time with Gabby Chaves, Tony Kanaan Walk of Fame Ceremony, Southern California Wine Festival presented by Yancey’s Fancy Artisan Cheese, and Lefty’s 5k Run  ... go online at Auto Club Speedway today. Also, drop in on their social media Twitter portal @ACSUpdates.

... notes from The EDJE

TAGS: Simon Pagenaud, Honda Indy Toronto, MAVTv 500, #MAVTv500, The EDJE, ARTIFACTS, Paul Tracy, NBCSN, Team Penske, Auto Club Speedway, Gil de Ferran, Tony Kanaan, Gabby Chaves

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