Pagenaud still has a lot to respond to after Indy 500 win

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Simon Pagenaud still has more than 2,000 messages left from his Indianapolis 500 victory, and he plans to respond to every one of them.

Maybe next week, when the IndyCar Series takes a break.

“I’m going to catch up on all of my messages,” Pagenaud said Thursday. “I need to respond. … So that will be my time to do that.”

Pagenaud has been full-go since the May 26 win at the Brickyard with plenty of appearances, not to mention two more races at Detroit last weekend. There is still that invitation to visit the White House and maybe even an appearance at the NHL Awards later this month.

When he got to Texas, his No. 22 Penske team won a pit stop challenge on a downtown Fort Worth street before a scheduled two-hour practice session at the track Thursday night was cut short by a passing shower that was followed by an impressive double rainbow in the sky.

“I don’t even know when was Indy. It’s a bit of a blur. Detroit was a blur,” Pagenaud said. “Tiring, grueling in some ways, because you’ve still got to keep your emotion in check while you’re representing the sport. Then Detroit, we just had to go through the weekend, quite frankly, to lose the least amount of points possible. Now we’re back to business, I feel rested, I feel good.”

There was even time this week for a half day at home with his team engineer to get ready for Saturday night’s race at the 1+-mile, high-speed oval at Texas that is the midpoint of the 17-race IndyCar schedule – with eight races already completed, and then eight more races after that.

Pagenaud, who also won the Indianapolis GP last month, said the focus can now turn to the championship chase.

The Indy 500 victory pushed Pagenaud from fourth to first in points. But after finishes of sixth and 17th in the two races at Belle Isle, the 35-year-old Frenchman slipped to third in points, 25 behind Penske teammate Josef Newgarden, the only other two-time winner this season.

“I think Detroit showed how quickly it can swing, and Indy as well,” Pagenaud said. “The momentum of my team is incredible. … We got hit at the start (at Detroit), but nobody ever gave up. We had just won the biggest race in the world and you could see everybody was so eager to get back in the race. It was like a win. That’s what’s very special.”

Pagenaud finished fourth at Texas in 2016, then was third in 2017 before being the runner-up to Scott Dixon last June. The title sponsor of the Texas race is DXC Technology, also the primary sponsor for Pagenaud’s No. 22.

“Obviously, it’s more motivation to do well,” he said.

There was a short yellow flag early in the Thursday night practice because of some sprinkles. There was no resumption after the later downpour, which drenched the track and ended the session to 41 minutes of green flag time.

Dixon had the fastest speed at 219.308 mph. Pagenaud was 16th among the 22 drivers at 215.001 mph.

With a week off the track after Texas, Pagenaud plans to get on his boat and put some music on, and “just relax for a few days.” He also will catch up on some of his fitness routine after not being able to get to the gym lately.

There are also all of those messages.

“I just feel grateful and blessed for my life, so I want to make sure people understand that I’m not going to change,” he said. “Those people that sent me messages are happy for me.”

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INDYCAR: Kanaan fastest in practice at Pocono

Chris Owens/IndyCar
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Very fittingly, the fastest car in Saturday’s lone practice session for ABC Supply 500 was the No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet of Tony Kanaan.

The 44-year-old Brazilian showed plenty of speed in the afternoon’s two hour practice session at Pocono Raceway, turning a 216.354 mph lap around the 2.5-mile superspeedway.

The session was the only on-track activity of the day for the NTT IndyCar Series, as heavy cloud cover and rain postponed the first practice session of the day and cancelled qualifying completely.

As the rain began to clear and track drying got underway, INDYCAR officials made the decision to combine the postponed one-hour morning session with the one-hour afternoon session, creating a single two-hour session for drivers to reacquaint themselves with the track known as “The Tricky Triangle”.

Scott Dixon finished the session second fastest with a 215.761 mph lap, while Santino Ferrcucci ended the session third-fastest with an 215.377 mph lap.

Alexander Rossi (215.373 mph) was fourth fastest in the session, followed by Indy 500 winner Simon Pagenaud (215.368 mph), who ended the session fifth-fastest despite missing nearly 45-minutes of track time early on due to a clutch issue.

Colton Herta was sixth-fastest at the completion of the session with a 215.338 mph lap, while Sebastian Bourdais (215.267 mph), Charlie Kimball (214.818 mph), Ryan Hunter-Reay (214.623 mph), and Graham Rahal (214.617 mph) rounded out the top ten.

Current series points leader Josef Newgarden ended the session 17th-fastest with a 214.174 mph lap.

Live coverage of the ABC Supply 500 begins Sunday at 2:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Click here for full practice results 

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