En garde: ‘Battle’ breaks out between Pagenaud, Newgarden — and now Hinchcliffe joins in

Makes you wonder what these two are plotting next (Photo: Getty Images)
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Just like on a racetrack, Simon Pagenaud has pulled ahead of teammate Josef Newgarden in their good-natured but also increasingly bold autograph battle.

Otherwise known on Twitter as: #IndyCarAutographBattle

Late Thursday night, Pagenaud snuck up to Newgarden’s house and signed his name on the frame of his teammate’s front door.

Advantage (for now): Pagenaud.

This came three days after Newgarden, also under the cover of darkness, left his autograph on a front brick of Pagenaud’s house after the pair returned from a trip to Indianapolis.

So the battle continues to heat up, although Pagenaud has had the last laugh for now, saying “Your move” as he ran away from Newgarden’s abode last night.

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Here’s the hilarious back story of the “feud” between the Team Penske drivers:

Newgarden and Pagenaud filmed a safety promotional video for the TSA Monday at the Indianapolis International Airport.

But Newgarden forgot his costume for the shoot – his firesuit and helmet. Just before he boarded his plane to meet up with Newgarden in Indy, Pagenaud was pressed into last-minute duty to also transport “King Josef’s” stuff.

So during a break in the filming, Pagenaud went into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway gift shop at the airport and signed a few of his diecasts that were on sale. He also ribbed Newgarden for not having any signed items in the store.

Newgarden then upped the ante:

That included Newgarden signing a fan’s t-shirt:

That only added fuel to the fire, as Pagenaud then signed an official Indy car on display in the airport:

To which Newgarden retorted:

After that, they were good boys until they got back home to Charlotte.

That didn’t last long, though. Pagenaud lamented he again had to carry Newgarden’s firesuit and helmet back to Charlotte. Which set up the next element of the battle:

That only served to ratchet up the battle for the defending IndyCar champion, and it became very clear he just wasn’t going to let it drop with the guy who won the championship one year before him.

Ergo, Newgarden “signed” Pagenaud’s house.

But now, in light of Pagenaud’s retaliatory move last night, what will Newgarden’s next move be? It almost reminds us of:

Wait, there’s more.

James Hinchcliffe isn’t about to let Newgarden and Pagenaud have all the fun. He’s all-in to the autograph battle now, too:

To which Pagenaud tweeted to Hinchcliffe:

Keep up with the escalating battle by following (it’s only going to get better) on Twitter at:

#IndyCarAutographBattle

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10-3 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 7 p.m. to USA Network. Peacock will have flag-to-flag coverage.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III