Pagenaud collects over $2.6 million for Indianapolis 500 win

INDYCAR Photo by John Cote
INDYCAR Photo by John Cote
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INDIANAPOLIS – His incredible win in the 103rdIndianapolis 500 will give Simon Pagenaud immortality when his face is added to the Borg-Warner Trophy later this year.

Meantime, the Team Penske driver will have to settle for a check for $2,669,529 from an overall purse of $13,090,536 for his Indy 500 triumph at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The 2016 NTT IndyCar Series champion from Montmorillon, France, captured his first victory in Indy 500 in the No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet. He beat 2016 winner Alexander Rossi to the finish by .2086 of a second to score the record-extending 18thIndianapolis 500 victory for Team Penske.

Pagenaud took the lead for good on Lap 199 of the 200-lap race. He led seven times for 116 laps, becoming the first pole sitter to win since Helio Castroneves in 2009.

FULL INDIANAPOLIS 500 COVERAGE: All of NBCSports.com’s 2019 stories over two weeks in May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. 

“I’m looking forward to getting a Corvette,” Pagenaud said, referring to the fact he also gets the 2019 Indianapolis 500 Pace Car as part of his winnings. “That’s pretty cool. I get a Corvette, wine color, burgundy. It was meant to be I guess. I’m looking forward to that.

“I’m looking forward to celebrate with my peers tonight, see the car on stage. I think that’s going to be when I realize what’s happened. I look forward to going to New York tomorrow. We will see what we do there. I think there’s going to be quite a bit of attendance. I’m excited about that.

“My face on the trophy. Taking the trophy to France would be very special. That’s just because that’s where I was born. Obviously it would be a special moment.

Rossi, from Nevada City, California, earned $759,179 in the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda. He led five times for 22 laps, continuing his streak of leading in all four of his career “500” starts.

The 2017 Indianapolis 500 winner, Takuma Sato, earned $540,454 for finishing third in the No. 30 Mi-Jack/Panasonic Honda.

The 2017 NTT IndyCar Series champion, Josef Newgarden, earned $462,904 in the No. 2 Shell V-Power Nitro Plus Team Penske Chevrolet.

Rounding out the top five was 2018 winner and 2014 series champion Will Power in the No. 12 Verizon 5G Team Penske Chevrolet, who earned $444,554.

Team Penske placed three cars in the top five.

Santino Ferrucci earned $435,404 for his seventh-place finish after starting 23rdin the No. 19 Cly-Del Manufacturing Honda, including $50,000 for being named Rookie of the Year. Ferrucci, who led one lap, was the highest-finishing rookie among the six drivers making their first Indianapolis 500 starts this year.

“These guys did a hell of a job, and I had a hell of a race car,” Ferrucci said, referring to his Dale Coyne Racing team. “I think if it wasn’t for that unlucky yellow toward the end, with 65 or 70 laps to go right after we pitted, we could be drinking the milk.

“But I can’t complain. I mean, it is my best finish in the series, and it is in the Indy 500. This place is an intimidating enough as it is, and these guys did some of the best work I have ever seen.”

The Indianapolis 500 purse consists of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and NTT IndyCar Series awards, plus other designated and special awards. Purse awards were announced and presented at the Victory Celebration on Monday, May 27 at the JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis.

Click here for the full Indy 500 box score with earnings for all 33 finishers.

IndyCar drivers say Thermal Club could host race after successful opening day to test

IndyCar Thermal race
Andy Abeyta/The Desert Sun / USA TODAY Sports Images
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THERMAL, Calif. – The “motorsports country club” passed the first test (figuratively and literally) with NTT IndyCar Series drivers pleased enough to proclaim The Thermal Club as race-eligible after its debut.

Though there were a few minor incidents on the 17-turn, 3.067-mile permanent road course east of Palm Springs in Southern California’s Coachella Valley, there was no significant damage for the 27 full-time cars that turned 1,119 laps Thursday.

Perhaps more importantly, drivers seemed to enjoy the ride around the track, which is unlike anything on the current circuit.

“I would love to race here,” said Chip Ganassi Racing rookie Marcus Armstrong, who posted the 10th-quickest time (1 minute, 39.9077 seconds) in the No. 11 Dallara-Honda that he will race on street and road courses after coming from the F2 Series. “I think it’s awesome. Would have to do a lot of neck training prior to the race because it’s much like a European circuit, quite demanding on the neck, towards the end of the lap anyway.

PRACTICE SPEEDS: First session l Second session l Combined

‘AN AMAZING PLACE’: IndyCar and its big plans for Thermal

“I think it’s cool. Very flowing, banked corners, banked high-speed corners. In terms of racing, it could be potentially not a lot of overtaking. You’d have to commit hard (in) maybe Turn 1. It wouldn’t be the easiest place to overtake. As a whole facility and circuit, it’s very enjoyable.”

Juncos Hollinger Racing No. 77 Chevrolet driver Callum Ilott, another F2 veteran who is entering his second year in IndyCar, was seventh fastest. Ilott said Thermal would “set a standard really of what we want to be doing with this series.

“It’s really, really high level, high tech,” said Ilott, whose rookie teammate Agustin Canapino went off course twice but incurred no major trouble. “As a circuit, yeah, it’s got a little bit different corners. I think the overtaking — we’ll find a way, we’re IndyCar — someone always sends it down the inside. I think if we can extend the straight and get some overtaking between Turn 6 and 7. It’s definitely a great circuit to drive and good fun and a bit different to the normal winter training we get in Florida. So I like the circuit.

“I think if we could, it would be good to race here once.”

Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta, who turned the fastest lap (1:39.3721) in his No. 26, also was optimistic despite the passing challenges.

“I think it really comes down to tire deg, what people are showing with that,” Herta said. “It will be tough to pass, right? A lot of the good braking zones, you’re coming off of high-speed corners, so it will be hard to follow.

“But you never know. I would say some of the tracks we go to would be terrible for racing, and IndyCar still puts on a great show. You never know until it’s tested and proven right or wrong.”

The possibility of adding an IndyCar race at The Thermal Club has been floated, but there would be some challenges. It likely would be a made-for-TV event given it’s a private club (and filled with multimillion-dollar homes filled with vintage cars). The test is closed to the public and open only to members and VIPs.

There also are some areas that would need to be improved, namely the galvanized steel Armco barriers that ring the track and generally are considered antiquated in motorsports.

“I think the Armco might propose a little bit of an issue,” Ilott said. “Again, it depends on what angle you’re hitting them obviously. It’s a pretty straightforward process to make it a bit safer and a bit more cushiony. I’m not in charge of that stuff. I just drive and try not to hit those things.

“I think it’s a straightforward process. To be fair, everyone has had a little moment today, spun and carried on. That’s a good start. Obviously there are anomalies, these things happen. So far, so good.”

Said Herta: For sure. It probably needs a little bit of work. They’ve already done a lot for us to come here already. It seems like if they do want to have a race here, they’re willing to put the work in and money in to upgrade the facility to make it a little bit safer for us.”

Christian Lundgaard of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing was second fastest (1:39.3767), followed by Alex Palou (1:39.3970) and Romain Grosjean (1:39.4826). Will Power was the top Chevrolet driver in fifth (1:39.5690).

Though Andretti had two of the top four times, Herta downplayed the significance other than getting reacclimated to his team.

“Just a lot of knocking the rust off,” he said. “It’s quite a long offseason without being in the car. I don’t know how much we’re really going to learn from running here. It’s really good to get the team back into it, get all the boys working again. Yeah, just get everybody back into the flow of it.

“It could be a huge shake-up when we go to St. Pete and who’s up front and who’s at the back. It is too early to tell. It’s nice just to be back in the car and get lap times down, get everybody working again.

“The track surface is very strange, very different to anything I’ve really felt in IndyCar. It’s seven first-gear corners. We don’t really have that many anywhere we go on a street course. It is quite a bit slower than our natural terrain courses. But I don’t want to be in here and dig it the whole time. It’s a fun track to drive, especially the back section. It keeps you on your toes. It doesn’t really replicate anything else that we go (race).”

The test will continue with another six-hour session Friday.