Pagenaud unsure if he could’ve held Kimball back in final laps


Simon Pagenaud said that issues with lapped traffic – particularly, Andretti Autosport’s E.J. Viso – didn’t help him as he tried to hang on to the lead in Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. However, he also admitted that he wasn’t sure if he could keep race winner Charlie Kimball behind him in the closing laps.

Pagenaud made his final stop with 18 laps remaining and came out of pit road as the race leader ahead of Kimball. But the Schmidt-Hamilton Motorsports driver found himself dicing briefly with Viso going into “The Keyhole” at Turn 2 as Kimball closed in.

Dealing with cold tires, Pagenaud was caught on the backstretch of the 2.26-mile circuit and Kimball made a bold pass on the inside going into Turn 4 for the lead. He would not give it up and cruised to his inaugural IZOD IndyCar Series win.

“I knew it was going to be close, but our ‘friend’ Viso, again, was in the middle of the racetrack and racing the leader, so that didn’t help,” said Pagenaud. “It is what it is. It’s racing. But it’s frustrating when there’s no need for it really.

“If it wasn’t for Viso, I think I could have kept my lead for at least [a little] longer. But Charlie was really strong, anyways. I don’t know if I could have kept him behind.”

But Pagenaud was still pleased with his first podium finish since winning Race 2 of the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit weekend back in June at Belle Isle Park.

Like Kimball, he opted to go with a three-stop strategy, beginning his race from eighth position on the primary “black” Firestones and then going to the alternate “reds” on his first stop at Lap 25. He would stick with the “reds” for the remainder of the 90-lap race.

“We knew we had a very consistent car, but the goal was to come back to the leaders at the end of the first stint, and then put on the new set of [reds] – we knew the car would be good on those tires,” Pagenaud explained.

“And then my race was basically to go really, really fast on the second stint to try to jump the guys in front, because it’s really difficult to pass on the racetrack. The goal was to try to pass as many cars as possible doing that strategy, and we did.”

Pagenaud led twice in the race for a total of 14 laps.

Ryan Hunter-Reay hired as replacement for Conor Daly at Ed Carpenter Racing

Ryan Hunter-Reay Carpenter
Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ryan Hunter-Reay was named to replace Conor Daly in Ed Carpenter Racing’s No. 20 Dallara-Chevrolet, starting in the NTT IndyCar Series event next week at Road America.

Hunter-Reay is the 2012 series champion and 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner. He finished 11th for Dreyer & Reinbold last month in the 107th Indy 500, his first start since the 2021 season finale. He drove full time for Andretti Autosport from 2010-21.

“We need to improve our competitiveness and I wanted to add a fresh perspective from a driver like Ryan who has a massive amount of experience and success as well as a reputation as a team leader. I am excited to welcome Ryan to the team,” team owner Ed Carpenter said in a team release. “We have worked together in the past as teammates and he tested for ECR at Barber Motorsports Park in October 2021, where he made an immediate impact as we were able to qualify one of our cars on the pole following that test. I am confident that his experience and technical abilities will be an asset to ECR as we move forward toward our goals as a team.”

Hunter-Reay has 18 IndyCar victories, most recently in 2018. He also is a winner in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, having been a part of winning entries in the 2020 Twelve Hours of Sebring and 2018 Petit Le Mans. Last year, he was an endurance driver for Cadillac Racing while being on standby for Chip Ganassi Racing.

He replaces Daly, whose departure was announced a day earlier in what the driver and team said was a mutual decision.

“I was surprised when I got the call from Ed,” Hunter-Reay said in a team release. “He described how frustrated he was that his team has not been able to realize its potential despite their efforts, investments, as well as technical and personnel changes over the past few years and asked for my help. Ed and I are very close friends and have been for a long time. I’ve worked with the team in the past and they are a very talented group with high expectations and a committed partner in BITNILE.COM.

“This will certainly be a challenge for me as well. It’s a tough situation jumping in a car in the middle of the season without any testing in what I believe to be the most competitive series in the world. Certainly, part of my motivation in saying ‘yes’ to Ed is the great challenge ahead. The last time I turned right driving an NTT IndyCar Series car was in October of 2021 with this team at Barber. However, I remain very confident in both my driving and technical abilities and believe by working with the talented people at ECR and Team Chevy, while representing BITNILE.COM, we will make progress. I am going to do everything I can do to help the team achieve its long-term objectives.”

Said Milton “Todd” Ault, the chairman of sponsor “It is great for to be aligned with an Indy 500 Winner and an NTT IndyCar Series champion. I have followed Ryan’s career for years and I am confident he will challenge the entire ECR team to perform at higher levels. I wish everyone luck at Road America.”