Indy 500 winner surprised to share his Baby Borg with his dog, Norman

Scott Lepage Photo
2 Comments

MOORESVILLE, North Carolina – When the wraps came off 103rdIndianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud’s “Baby Borg” Trophy that was presented to him at the Team Penske Breakfast on Monday, he was stunned to see two sculpted faces on the base of his trophy.

One of the faces was Pagenaud’s, an identical image that was unveiled on the permanent Borg-Warner Trophy in France on August 6. The second image belongs to his prized pup, Norman, a Jack Russell Terrier that is a constant companion with Pagenaud and his fiancée Hailey McDermott.

Team owner Roger Penske also received his Indianapolis 500 record-extending 18thBaby Borg Trophy Monday morning and quipped, that for 17 times he “never saw a dog in the winner’s circle.”

The 18thIndianapolis 500 victory for the team will be different, one that will be remembered for Pagenaud’s unbridled enthusiasm and for Norman’s bark after his “father” took a bite out of the Indy 500 field.

“Today, they surprised me with my likeness and Norman’s likeness and that is such a great and incredible gesture from BorgWarner,” Pagenaud told NBC Sports.com. “It’s the first time Will Behrends has sculpted a dog and he did a phenomenal job.

“It’s an incredible gift I will keep forever and remind me of the most incredible day of my life.”

Norman is easily the most famous dog in auto racing and helped celebrate Pagenaud’s Indy 500 win on May 26 in Victory Lane at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“It’s great for Hailey and me to have these kinds of memories because Norman was part of this incredible day in our lives,” Pagenaud said. “It was the most incredible day of our lives and he will be part of our memories forever.

“Indy is special for its traditions and what Borg-Warner did for me today is very, very special.”

It’s been quite a weekend for Pagenaud, who was at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway since last Thursday attending the NASCAR Brickyard 400. It was the first time he had been back to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway since he won the 103rdIndianapolis 500 on May 26.

“Just flying over the Speedway was special because things have changed,” Pagenaud said. “I can’t walk into a restaurant without being recognized now. I get introduced as the 2019 Indy 500 champion.

“It’s great to feel at home. It’s great to feel part of a very restricted club. It’s great to feel relevant in your sport and that you will be remembered. I don’t want to feel pretentious but it’s great to feel like you have done something special in your sport.”

Pagenaud said the response he got over the weekend from the NASCAR community was “phenomenal.”

“Joe Gibbs came over and talked to me and I have always looked at Joe Gibbs as a Super Bowl winner and great NASCAR team owner, with much success,” Pagenaud said. “I had a lot of other drivers that I saw. It’s great to feel part of it as a champion.

“Indianapolis is the capital of racing and the center of racing.

“Now, I’m pretty excited about Laguna Seca coming up with the NTT IndyCar Series championship.”

Pagenaud, the 2016 NTT IndyCar Series Champion, is third in the standings, 42 points behind Team Penske teammate Josef Newgarden and one point behind Andretti Autosport driver Alexander Rossi heading into the September 22 double-points season-finale at WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca.

Monday was also important for Pagenaud because unlike past years when the Baby Borg Trophies were presented at a dinner before the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January, he got to share this with the team.

“Getting the Baby Borg trophy today was overwhelming in terms of emotion, especially here at the Team Penske employee breakfast,” Pagenaud said. “Five-hundred-and-fifty Team Penske employees were here, enjoying the moment, with me, was even more special.

“Incredible things have happened for me by taking the ‘Daddy Borg’ to France, being able to share that with my home country and educate IndyCar was incredible.

“I don’t think it’s over; it’s just the beginning. It’s phenomenal to see BorgWarner’s support for the Indianapolis 500 winner is outstanding. They keep giving you gifts and making you feel special.”

Pagenaud has posed with the Borg-Warner Trophy in Victory Lane at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the trophy accompanied him to the White House when the team was honored by President Donald Trump on June 10 and most recently went to his native France.

The Borg-Warner Trophy has returned to its permanent home at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum. The Baby Borg, however, is the one Pagenaud gets to keep.

“That’s another amazing gesture of BorgWarner to allow the winner to have a memory of it,” Pagenaud said. “It’s a beautiful piece and with the base it goes well together. It’s going to be dead center in the middle of all of my other trophies.

“It is the most valuable personally and emotionally and for the dream that I have had since I was a little kid to get to this point is my goal. Like I said this morning, I’m living my dream life.

“I’m going to make sure it has the best spot in the house.”

Jack Miller wins the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo stops his downward points’ slide

0 Comments

Jack Miller ran away with the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi as Fabio Quartararo stopped his downward slide in the championship when a last-lap accident from his closest rival in the standings caused Francesco Bagnaia to score zero points.

Starting seventh, Miller quickly made his way forward. He was second at the end of two laps. One lap later, he grabbed the lead from Jorge Martin. Once in the lead, Miller posted three consecutive fastest laps and was never seriously challenged. It was Australian native Miller’s first race win of the season and his sixth podium finish.

The proximity to his home turf was not lost.

“I can ride a motorcycle sometimes,” Miller said in NBC Sports’ post-race coverage. “I felt amazing all weekend since I rolled out on the first practice. It feels so awesome to be racing on this side of the world.

“What an amazing day. It’s awesome; we have the home Grand Prix coming up shortly. Wedding coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m over the moon; can’t thank everyone enough.”

Miller beat Brad Binder to the line by 3.4 seconds with third-place Jorge Martin finishing about one second behind.

But the center of the storm was located just inside the top 10 as both Quartararo and Bagnaia started deep in the field.

Quartararo was on the outside of row three in ninth with Bagnaia one row behind in 12th. Neither rider moved up significantly, but the championship continued to be of primary importance as Bagnaia put in a patented late-race charge to settle onto Quartararo’s back tire, which would have allowed the championship leader to gain only a single point.

On the final lap, Bagnaia charged just a little too hard and crashed under heavy braking, throwing away the seven points he would have earned for a ninth-place finish.

The day was even more dramatic for the rider who entered the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix third in the standings. On the sighting lap, Aleix Espargaro had an alarm sound, so he peeled off into the pits, dropped his primary bike and jumped aboard the backup. Starting from pit lane, he trailed the field and was never able to climb into the points. An undisclosed electronic problem was the culprit.

For Quartararo, gaining eight points on the competition was more than a moral victory. This was a track on which he expected to run moderately, and he did, but the problems for his rivals gives him renewed focus with four rounds remaining.

Next week, the series heads to Thailand and then Miller’s home track of Phillip Island in Australia. They will close out the Pacific Rim portion of the schedule before heading to Spain for the finale in early November.

It would appear team orders are not in play among the Ducati riders. Last week’s winner Enea Bastianini made an aggressive early move on Bagnaia for position before the championship contender wrestled the spot back.

In his second race back following arm surgery, Marc Marquez won the pole. His last pole was more than 1,000 days ago on this same track in 2019, the last time the series competed at Motegi. Marquez slipped to fifth in the middle stages of the race, before regaining a position to finish just off the podium.

In Moto2 competition, Ai Ogura beat Augusto Fernandez to close the gap in that championship to two points. Fernandez holds the scant lead. Alonso Lopez rounded out the podium.

Both American riders, Cameron Beaubier and Joe Roberts finished just outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th respectively.