IndyCar: Andretti camp interested in Simon Pagenaud for 2015


Simon Pagenaud’s evolution into a Verizon IndyCar Series championship contender has attracted the attention of one of the series’ big teams.

Andretti Autosport owner Michael Andretti has told The Associated Press that he’s interested in acquiring the Frenchman’s services for next season, although he did not disclose if that means his team would add a fifth car.

Andretti also stressed that “we’re a long ways away from something” in his comments.

“He’s one of the top guys out here, and he’s a really good guy, too,” Andretti said of Pagenaud, who is in his third season of racing for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. “He’d fit in great with our team.”

For his part, Pagenaud played it cool when he talked about Andretti’s interest in him. He told the AP that such interest lets him know that he’s doing a good job.

“You have job security when you are in that position because you know there’s interest in you,” Pagenaud said. “People have noticed the job you are doing.”

As for his prospects to either join Andretti or stay with Schmidt, Pagenaud only said: “We’ll see what happens next.”

Since coming to IndyCar full-time in 2012, Pagenaud has made steady progress to become of the series’ top drivers.

After finishing an impressive fifth in the ’12 overall championship, he improved on that last year with a third-place finish on the strength of wins at Detroit and Baltimore.

Going into this weekend’s Shell/Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston doubleheader, Pagenaud sits fourth in the standings at 91 points behind championship leader Will Power. He won the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis last month on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

NHRA Gatornationals: John Force has another spectacular motor explosion

Photo courtesy NHRA
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Legendary NHRA Funny Car driver John Force endured yet another spectacular motor explosion – his third in the NHRA’s first three national event races – during Friday’s qualifying at the Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida.

It’s the kind of consistency the 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ could do without.

The 68-year-old Force came to Gainesville hoping to break the jinx that saw him endure explosions in both the season-opening Winternationals and the second race of the season in Phoenix.

Both motor explosions sent Force to the hospital for examination before he returned to the race track.

Friday, even though the motor in his Chevrolet Camaro blew up again (in the second round of qualifying), at least this time, Force didn’t wind up in the hospital.

He did have his right hand bandaged from a cut suffered in the explosion, but did not have to go to the hospital this time.

He even joked about not having to add yet another ambulance bill to the nearest Gainesville hospital.

But the explosion still proved costly.

“That was another body and that hurts the financial (bottomline),” Force said. “I was out $500,000 to $600,000, and now we are probably out $800,000, going on a million. In drag racing, you have to be tough.”

He ended the day qualifying 14th, not a very comfortable position with two more rounds of qualifying set for Saturday.

Force continues to be mystified why the motors keep exploding.

“I really thought we had it, I thought we were there,” Force said. “In the first round we drove it 500 feet and shut it off. It looked great. We ran it again that run and I was only going to drive it 800 feet even if we didn’t make The Show.”

Force will attempt to improve his qualifying spot during Saturday’s final two rounds to make Sunday’s eliminations.

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