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


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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Kyle Larson wins third consecutive High Limit Sprint race at Eagle Raceway, Rico Abreu second again

Larson High Limit Eagle
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It took four attempts for Kyle Larson to win his first High Limit Sprint Car Series race in the series he co-owns with brother-in-law Brad Sweet, but once he found victory lane, he has been undefeated with his win at Eagle (Nebraska) Raceway. For the second week, Abreu led early only to fall prey to Larson.

The win was Larson’s third straight victory and the fifth consecutive top-five, giving him a perfect sweep of the season after finishing 10th in last year’s inaugural race at Lincoln Park Speedway in Putnamville, Indiana.

Larson started third behind Abreu and Brent Marks but was embroiled in a fierce battle with Anthony Macri for third during the first dozen laps. Larson slipped by Macri in traffic until a red flag waved for a flip by Lachlan McHugh.

Meanwhile at the front of the pack, Marks retook the lead from Abreu on Lap 18. Larson followed one lap later and then caution waved again. Tyler Courtney lost power and fell to 24th after starting eighth.

Marks scooted away on the restart but tragedy struck in Lap 26. Leading the race, Marks hit a pothole in Turn 1, bicycled and then flipped, handing the lead to Larson.

Abreu caught Larson again during the final laps and in a reprise of their battle at Tri-City Speedway, the two threw sliders at one another for several laps until Larson built some separation and ran away to the checkers.

“I didn’t feel like my pace in [Turns] 1 & 2 slowed down a ton,” Larson said from victory lane. “I missed it once there and then I saw his nose in 3 & 4. I didn’t know if he nailed the bottom that well behind me and I think he might have slid me in the next corner, so he was definitely on the top.

“I was nervous to move up there because my car was really pogoing up in the entry of 1. I got up just in time, made a few mistakes and he threw a couple more sliders at me but he was just a little too far back and I was able to squirt around him. Then I really had to commit to hitting my marks – back my effort down a bit to avoid mistakes.”

After leading early, Abreu fell back as far as sixth, but faith in his car kept hope alive.

“I just needed to do a few things a few laps before I did and fix some angles, then my car got a whole lot better,” Abreu said. “I’m thankful for this team; they do an amazing job. They don’t give up on me. I know my car is going to be there right at the end of these races, so it’s just the discipline of being patient.”

For Abreu, it was his third near-miss this season. He was leading at Lakeside in the 2023 opener until a tire went flat in the closing laps and he lost the lead to Larson late in the Tri-City Speedway race. Abreu has finished sixth or better in his last three High Limit races with each result being progressively better until his pair of runner-up results.

Third-place finisher Scelzi was the hard charger, advancing from 17th.

“I had a very specific plan; don’t go near [the hole in Turn 1],” Scelzi said. “It worked out. No one wanted to start on the top. I think I gained a couple of rows there on the choose cone and ran the middle, which seemed to be better than right around the bottom.”

Michael “Buddy” Kofoid in fourth and Macri rounded out the top five.

World of Outlaws star and former NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne was one of 41 entrants, but he was not among the 26 starters. He failed to advance to the Main after finishing eighth in the B Main and seventh in his heat.

Feature Results

A Feature (40 Laps): 1. 57-Kyle Larson[4]; 2. 24-Rico Abreu[1]; 3. 18-Giovanni Scelzi[17]; 4. 71-Michael Kofoid[5]; 5. 39M-Anthony Macri[3]; 6. 9-Chase Randall[9]; 7. 26-Zeb Wise[14]; 8. 1X-Jake Bubak[15]; 9. 8-Aaron Reutzel[10]; 10. 14D-Corey Day[18]; 11. 11-Cory Eliason[12]; 12. 5T-Ryan Timms[11]; 13. 88-Austin McCarl[13]; 14. 21H-Brady Bacon[22]; 15. 48-Danny Dietrich[16]; 16. 7S-Robbie Price[19]; 17. 21-Brian Brown[23]; 18. 22-Riley Goodno[26]; 19. 52-Blake Hahn[25]; 20. 15H-Sam Hafertepe Jr[21]; 21. 3J-Dusty Zomer[6]; 22. 14-Cole Macedo[7]; 23. 19-Brent Marks[2]; 24. 7BC-Tyler Courtney[8]; 25. 25-Lachlan McHugh[20]; 26. 53-Jack Dover[24]

2023 High Limit Sprint Car Series

Race 1: Giovanni Scelzi wins at Lakeside Speedway
Race2: Anthony Macri wins at 34 Raceway
Race 3: Kyle Larson wins at Wayne County Speedway
Race 4: Kyle Larson wins at Tri-City Speedway