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.