Pagenaud and Power. Photos: IndyCar

Is a potential first Pagenaud vs. Power at Penske battle on tap?

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Two years ago, Will Power and Simon Pagenaud had a notable dust-up in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach when driving for separate teams in the Verizon IndyCar Series. To follow it up, there was an encore at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit Presented by Quicken Loans in June.

Since Pagenaud joined Power at Team Penske prior to 2015, however, there’s been no animosity since as the two join Helio Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya in fully uniting under Roger Penske’s single, one-team focus mindset.

They laughed off the Long Beach contact in 2015.

Heck, they’ve all poked fun at each other over the last 16 months – Pagenaud even took the opportunity to imitate Montoya during an interview this weekend.

But will Sunday mark a renewal of the rivalry? A spark of sorts as Power starts second but has actually been beaten to a pole, on a road or street course, by Pagenaud for the first time since Pagenaud joined Team Penske?

It’s a potential turning point in the inner Team Penske ascendancy between the team’s two younger, if still experienced, drivers, and the stats bare it out.

Last year, Power scored five Verizon P1 Awards on road or street courses – and he out-qualified Pagenaud on all but one of the road or street qualifying sessions.

The only time Pagenaud beat him was when Power missed it during Q1 at Long Beach last year and started 18th; Pagenaud made it into the Firestone Fast 6 and started fifth.

This year? Different story. Pagenaud qualified third to Power’s sixth last week at Long Beach and took advantage of his opportunity to win his first race. Power had a nondescript run to seventh and missed his marks on a pit stop.

Now, Pagenaud has the pole for Sunday’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama (Sunday, 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

Diplomacy and cordiality ruled out between the two of them rather than any fighting words during the post-qualifying press conference.

“Simon did a mega lap there, an awesome lap. To do that on these reds is very good,” Power said of Pagenaud.

Of beating Power, Pagenaud replied, “It’s definitely a game that I enjoy. Qualifying is fun, and Will is definitely the best in the business, so when you can beat him, it feels nice for sure.”

Nice words, for sure, today.

But when the two of them launch from the front row tomorrow, it will be fascinating to see whether the nice words last when it comes down to getting the lead into Turn 1.

Andretti United team names drivers for inaugural Extreme E season

Extreme E drivers Andretti
Extreme E
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The Extreme E team formed by Andretti Autosport and United Autosports named Catie Munnings and Timmy Hansen as its drivers Monday for the series’ inaugural 2021 season.

Munnings is a successful veteran of rally series. Hansen is a past winner and champion in the World Rallycross Championship.

They both will race in the environmentally conscious electric SUV series that will hold events in five areas around the world that are threatened by climate change. Chip Ganassi Racing and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton also are fielding cars in Extreme E, which will feature male and female co-drivers on every team.

Catie Munnings

“I’m so excited to join Andretti United Extreme E,” Munnings said in a release. ““I was really intrigued when I first heard about Extreme E, I just knew I had to be involved. The male / female racing partnership is a fantastic and exciting new concept. The season has incredible locations and the racing will be very exciting. It will be a new challenge for the teams and drivers, and I’m so thrilled to be working with such a strong team.

“The championship is a really innovative concept, it’s combining motorsport and science and will produce an important legacy in each race location. Bringing the platform that motorsport has in line with the awareness that the planet needs right now is awesome and a really important message.”

Timmy Hansen

Said Hansen: “Going into the Extreme E will be a new chapter in my career, one that I am extremely excited about. It is something brand new, not only for me, but the whole of motorsport. The format is something

we’ve never seen before. I’m also delighted to be able to carry the message of something bigger – talking about the environment and doing something good for the world – that’s something that really drives me. It’s going to be a big adventure in life to see these locations and I’m going to do my best in carrying this responsibility and hopefully making people aware of the challenges we have in the world, together with our passion for racing.”