Pagenaud moves into IndyCar points lead after Phoenix

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AVONDALE, Ariz. – On the post-joining Team Penske to-do checklist, I imagine Simon Pagenaud put “win first race for Penske” front and center.

Even though he hasn’t done that yet, moving into the Verizon IndyCar Series points lead isn’t a bad item to check off.

The 31-year-old Frenchman, in his fifth full season since returning to IndyCar full-time in 2012 (Pagenaud also raced Champ Car in 2007 and a partial IndyCar slate in 2011), now has the series points lead for the first time in his career after finishing second in Saturday night’s Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix.

Pagenaud swapped his green, black and white No. 22 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Chevrolet for an orange-and-white DeVilbiss-backed entry, and rolled out a similarly bright orange firesuit to go along with it this weekend. He also had his parents in town from France.

But even though the livery was the IndyCar equivalent of a “Dreamsicle,” Pagenaud can go to sleep at night knowing the points lead isn’t a dream.

He’s the only driver in the first two IndyCar races to have finished on the podium twice; Juan Pablo Montoya and Scott Dixon have a win apiece, with Ryan Hunter-Reay and Will Power the two third-place finishers.

For reference, Pagenaud only had two podiums all of 2015 – third places in Detroit race one and Mid-Ohio – so he’s already equaled that with better results this year, as it’s obvious the No. 22 Team Penske team is gelling better.

Pagenaud leads Dixon, a traditionally slow starter, by four points (83-79) with St. Petersburg winner Montoya third at 74 points.

“That’s great. It’s according to plan,” Pagenaud said in the post-race press conference. “Everything that didn’t go well last year is going well now, so again, today is definitely — I had a lot of help from my guys, but I also had a great race car thanks to the team, and yeah, so you know, we’ve just got to keep doing exactly that. It’s great to see Will back and great to see he’s also healthy, and to be able to put it all together is cool.”

Beyond the top three, here’s other notes after Phoenix from a points standpoint:

  • Team Penske has three of the top six in points with Helio Castroneves in sixth. After missing St. Petersburg, Power leapt to 12th with 36 points, 47 back of Pagenaud, with his third place finish.
  • Hunter-Reay (56, fourth), Graham Rahal (44, seventh), Mikhail Aleshin and Takuma Sato (43, tied eighth) are the four Honda drivers in the top-10.
  • Rookies: Max Chilton’s seventh place finish moved him to 10th and the rookie lead with 39 points. Alexander Rossi is 14th on 34 and Conor Daly is 18th on 32.
  • Fourth-placed Hunter-Reay is 27 points behind Pagenaud. Just 26 points then cover from Hunter-Reay down to Jack Hawksworth in 19th.

Via INDYCAR, here are the points, below, after Phoenix:


Vicki Golden and 805 Beer tell a unique story from an Inverted Perspective


Vicki Golden has earned a career worthy of a thousand stories and 805 Beer tells at least one of them, as “Inverted Perspective” premiered March 30 on the company’s website and YouTube channel.

Golden did more to break the glass ceiling in SuperMotocross than she ever thought possible. She knows this because riders have never felt the need to explain any of her accomplishments with the disclaimer, “for a girl”. 

At this point in Golden’s career, she’s been the first woman to finish top 10 in AMA Arenacross Lites, the first woman to qualify in the Fast 40 in Monster Energy AMA Supercross and the first woman to compete in freestyle Moto X competition, earning a bronze medal by doing so.

Her love for moto came from childhood while she watched her dad and brother ride. By seven she was on her bike and making waves throughout Southern California. 

Golden, 30, is still madly in love with the sport and has no plans on moving away but her career is already one to talk about. 805 Beer’s film series wanted to do exactly that.

“I’m taken aback by it all,” Golden told NBC Sports about the documentary. “It’s just crazy to see your story, it’s one thing to live your life and battle everything that comes about but it’s another to just sit there and talk about it.”

805 approached Golden about the feature by asking, “Do you even realize that what you do, and your story is special?”

Golden took the question as a blank canvas to map out the highs and lows of her career and life. 

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The title “Inverted Perspective” came from a brainstorming session with Dominick Russo and it highlights Golden’s outlook on the sport of SuperMotocross and her life in general. 

“My whole life, my whole career was thinking differently and looking at things that shouldn’t be done and aren’t there, while being able to make a place for myself, where no one thought there should be a place,” Golden said.  “It’s inspiring someone to think in different ways. It sums up my life.”

Vicki Golden is not “fast for a girl”; she’s just fast. – 805 Beer

While Golden is no stranger to the spotlight, this was the first time she’s been fully involved with the storytelling and creation of a feature about herself. 

“It’s not like a full new experience,” Golden said. “Obviously, you get your standard questions about your upbringing and accomplishments, but I’ve never really put into perspective things that happened in my past with my dad and putting that to light. Also, certain other things that maybe got overlooked in previous interviews or films. I wanted to touch on these and Dom wanted to create a story. It’s just cool to see it come to light, it’s a nearly impossible thing to tell somebody’s life story in 40 minutes.”

Golden’s father was left paralyzed after an ATV accident, robbing him the opportunity to ride again. This happened a few months before the father-daughter duo was set to compete in the Loretta Lynn’s Amateur Nationals when Vicki was 12. While she might have been unable to grasp the severity at the time, it’s something she carries with her. Golden continues to ride in his honor.

Years later, an accident in 2018 nearly sidelined the then 25-year-old Vicki when a freestyle accident almost resulted in the amputation of her lower leg. 

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Golden 805 Beer
Vicki Golden has ridden a variety of disciplines in SuperMotocross, which gives her a unique perspective. – 805 Beer

“Inverted Perspective” highlights her father’s diligence in helping Vicki continue with her career and the kindness and strength he carried while fighting his own battle. 

“My dad was the entire reason that I started riding in the first place,” Golden said. “So, to honor his memory and to honor what we went through and how hard he pushed to keep our dream alive and keep everything going – in that sense then, it was really special to be able to honor him and talk about him.”

The 40-minute feature was filmed entirely in black and white, a stark contrast from the oversaturated world of motocross where the brighter the suit the easier it is for fans to find their rider and follow him in the race. By filming in monochrome Russo and Golden had the chance to focus on the race and track from a different perspective. 

“It was cool to be able to film it differently,” Golden said. “It created a challenge in the sense of what was going to be more visually impactful for the film.

“I couldn’t be here without the companies that back me but at the same time, it’s not like the logos or colors disappeared, it’s just different lights shed on different spots. It’s just a cool way to do it and to take color away and still be impactful. When you think of black and white, you think of old school, the OG way of doing things.”