One of the highlights of IndyCar’s 2014 season came at the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis, when Simon Pagenaud led the final five laps and took the checkered flag.
It was the Frenchman’s first of two wins last season, then driving with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
Now the four-time Verizon IndyCar Series race winner is with Team Penske and its quartet threat of defending champion Will Power, Juan Pablo Montoya and Helio Castroneves.
After finishing fifth in the season opener, the series heads to the New Orleans area for its inaugural Grand Prix of Louisiana at NOLA Motorsports Park, a track Pagenaud finds similar to the Indianapolis road course.
“To me, NOLA Motorsports Park is similar to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in terms of layout,” Pagenaud said of the 13-turn road course. “You have to be really precise with your braking point and the speed you carry into the corners. I think fans will see good racing and a lot of passing. The new aero kits are going to put on another good show, I believe.”
The show in St. Petersburg, or at least the first half, was slowed down by five cautions, three of which were caused by debris from the wings of the new aero kits. Pagenaud started second in that race and stayed in the top five for most of its run.
“As you saw in the second half of that event, we stayed off of each other a lot more,” Pagenaud said. “We’ll continue to get better in that regard.
“This is a new team and we are going to take a couple of races to really start gelling together, but a top five in our first start is definitely a positive sign and now we are ready to take the next step.”
All four of Pagenaud’s wins to date have occurred on street or road courses. He last won at Houston race two last year.