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Bruce Martin Photo

After a disappointing Detroit, Indy 500 winner Pagenaud hopes for Texas rebound

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DETROIT – A disappointing doubleheader weekend in Detroit is not going to get Simon Pagenaud down. The winner of the 103rd Indianapolis 500 is already looking ahead to his next challenge that could put him back in the spotlight.

Next up is the DXC Technology 600 at Texas Motor Speedway, the first of three Saturday night races on the NTT IndyCar Series schedule.

“I think Texas will be really good for us,” Pagenaud said. “I always run strong there. It’s one of my favorite ovals. I welcome it. I love the car we had there last year, and we have made progress on it, too. It should be a good battle and a good show for Team Penske.”

In seven previous starts at the 1.54-mile, high-banked oval, Pagenaud has four top-five finishes. He was fourth in 2016, third in 2017 and second in last year’s race that was won by Scott Dixon. That was his best race of 2018.

More recently, tired and weary, but still happy from his big win in the Indy 500, Pagenaud left Detroit looking forward to a recharge after his life-changing week.

At least now, Pagenaud can finally get a good night’s sleep.

“I’m going to sleep a lot,” Pagenaud said. “I don’t want to sound too disappointed, because I won the Indy 500. I leave here feeling very blessed.

“It’s been a very busy weekend for the Team Penske drivers because of the sponsors, but this is the most tired I have ever been on a race weekend. It’s such high competition here. You better be prepared when you show up at a race.”

Swept up in the whirlwind that surrounded his dramatic win in the 103rd Indianapolis 500, Pagenaud arrived in Detroit last week after an extensive media tour that took him to New York last Tuesday.

More media interviews took place the next day, and additional team and sponsor obligations involving the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix followed upon his arrival in Detroit.

No wonder Pagenaud told NBCSports.com that he was looking forward to getting back in the race car so he could finally relax.

Pagenaud was hoping to join Helio Castroneves (2001) as the only Indy 500 winners to win at Detroit in the same season. But he ended up having a mixed weekend.

The Frenchman had a decent Race 1 on Saturday, starting 13th and finishing sixth in what became a 75-minute timed event due to severe weather. But with sunny skies and near-perfect conditions for Sunday’s Race 2, he was involved in a first-lap crash in Turn 3 that also caught multiple others.

The incident left Pagenaud’s Chevrolet with a gear sensor failure, forcing him to the garage. His Team Penske crew made repairs and got him back to the track, where he took the checkered flag in 17th, 12 laps down.

“I got a good start, was right behind Will Power and I got hit in the back,” Pagenaud said. “We had a gear sensor damaged so I couldn’t restart the car. I had to wait for the car to come back in the pits and the guys fixed it. I got six points by returning to the race and that could be very important at the end of the season.

“We had the fastest lap in the race by a half-second. The car was really, really good. Too bad we couldn’t have raced because we could have challenged for it today. It could have been some good points. But we got pretty lucky today. Josef Newgarden had problems and that is a shame for Team Penske, but Alexander Rossi didn’t score too many points, either.

“I’m glad I got to race today, otherwise I would have been disappointed. But I got to run a lot of laps and that was really good. We have some valuable data for the next street race at Toronto, we found the speed, but it was just too late. Most teams would have given up. But at Team Penske, we never give up. It was an important weekend for us to get through.”

 

 

 

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.