IndyCar racing has a lot of similarities with horse racing. They are both built on speed and elapsed time.
And let’s not forget the most obvious: horsepower.
So, it’s not too much of a stretch to look at the plight of current Verizon IndyCar Series points leader Simon Pagenaud.
Like a jockey or a cowboy, Pagenaud was thrown from his mount this past Monday when he was involved in a solo wreck during the weather-delayed ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway.
The wreck was Pagenaud’s first DNF of the season, a season that has had him in the points lead since the second race (Phoenix) and also compiled four wins and seven podium finishes in the first 13 races.
At the same time, Penske Racing teammate Will Power significantly closed what had been a 58-point lead by Pagenaud coming into Pocono to just a 20-point edge over Power, who not only won the race, but has won four of the last six (and finished runner-up in the other two).
But, once again like a jockey or cowboy who has been thrown from his horse, Pagenaud has picked himself up, dusted himself off and is prepared to do battle with his teammate and roughly a handful of others who are still mathematically eligible to win the 2016 IndyCar championship.
Pagenaud has built his career on looking forward and forgetting what’s in the past. And that’s exactly his philosophy about leaving Pocono and preparing for Saturday night’s resumed Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway.
“Pocono didn’t go very well, but that happens,” Pagenaud says. “I wish it hadn’t, but we have to move on and put it behind us.
“The Hewlett Packard Enterprise Chevy will (re)start 15th, but that’s not indicative of the car we had or will have.”
As for the tightened margin between himself and Power, Pagenaud has been in this kind of horserace plenty of times in his career.
He knows what to expect in the next three races. He saw how Juan Pablo Montoya topped the standings last season for 15 straight races, only to lose it in the season finale to Scott Dixon.
Pagenaud hasn’t come this far to let the lead slip through his reins. Whether it’s himself, Power or perhaps one of the others still in striking distance, Pagenaud is well aware that it’s anyone’s championship still to win.
Obviously, he hopes it will ultimately be his.
“There’s a lot of racing left,” Pagenaud said. “It’s going to be an exciting race. We don’t lose sight of the big picture, but that’s not the strategy.
“We got to where we are by attacking and being on the offensive. That’s not going to change. We’ll focus on winning races.”