After getting spun out on the opening lap, Simon Pagenaud recovered with the help of some strategy to claim a fourth-place finish in today’s first race of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader.
Pagenaud started fourth for Race 1, but was turned around by Luca Filippi coming out of Turn 4. The incident also collected multiple other cars, including Takuma Sato (who did not return), Josef Newgarden, Mike Conway, and Carlos Munoz.
A red flag was flown due to an extended cleanup, but when it changed to yellow, Pagenaud quickly got repairs from his Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports crew before going back on track at the rear of the field.
But on Lap 10, Pagenaud was called into the pits for an early stop, getting sticker primary tires in the process. That put him off-sequence, but Pagenaud was able to rise up to the lead by Lap 35 as the leaders started making their own stops under green.
For the next six laps, Pagenaud pushed as hard as he could before he abandoned the lead for service on Lap 41. But when he came back out, he found himself back where he started in fourth place, and that’s where he would remain for the rest of the race.
“The team did a great job putting me in the right strategy and honestly, that start- I drove really upset after that,” Pagenaud told NBCSN with a knowing laugh. “I was really upset. [There was] nothing I could’ve done. I got lucky to be honest. Everybody could have T-boned me there. But I’m glad we could get back in the race.
“At this point, I was really upset. I drove as hard as I could. The car was really competitive and it’s been competitive all weekend, so I was hoping to get back in the front.
“But I needed to be in clean air and the team did that. They put me in really good strategy. We did some really good lap times and we got right back behind TK [Tony Kanaan]. But once I was behind, there was no other hope.”
Pagenaud now shifts his attention to Race 2, which will have the field gridded by entrant points following Race 1.
With Pagenaud now third in the standings, he’ll be up front for the standing start later this afternoon (coverage begins at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra).
“Fourth was really good, but we’ve got another one this afternoon and I think we can win,” Pagenaud concluded.