The dominance shown by Simon Pagenaud in the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series is undeniable, and he has the champagne-soaked firesuits from all five contests this season to prove it.
After a rough 2015 transitioning into the role of fourth driver on Team Penske, this year’s streak of success is welcomed and well-deserved for the French driver. We are approximately a third of the way through the season and Pagenaud is focused hard on both the Indianapolis 500, coming up in 10 days, and the overall Championship which will be awarded in September at the finale in Sonoma, CA.
The IndyCar Championship has been determined by the results of the last race for the past decade. It is yet to be seen whether that trend will continue or if Pagenaud will run away with the points lead prior to the finale. His teammate Juan Pablo Montoya lead the charge to the Astor Cup for the entire 2015 season before losing that lead to Chip Ganassi Racing Teams driver, Scott Dixon, at Sonoma Raceway. Dixon tasted victory in wine country, allowing him to become a four-time Champion. Strangely enough, Dixon is also the one currently chasing down points leader, Pagenaud.
The most recent race this past weekend, the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis, produced some great stories – from Conor Daly (Dale Coyne Racing, No. 18), an Indiana native, leading 14 laps on the road course after a stellar pass of Helio Castroneves (Team Penske, No. 3) on the frontstretch at a restart, to James Hinchcliffe (SPM Racing, No. 5) and his podium finish upon returning to competition at the Speedway for the first time since sustaining a life-threatening injury during an Indianapolis 500 practice run last year. And let’s not forget Graham Rahal (RLL Racing, No. 15) finishing fourth after starting from the last row due to an underweight car that did not pass post-qualification tech inspection.
As you can see, this track – she can make your dreams come true and break your heart in the same breath. And not always in that order. She lives and breathes the same way you and I do and you can feel that when you walk on her hallowed ground. Whether packed to capacity, like she will be in less than two weeks… or quiet and still in the middle of the night… she has a say in how everything turns out. The only promise she makes is that we will witness, and be a part of, history every time we visit. Particularly on raceday.
As this monumental Indianapolis 500 closes in with every passing hour, know this: the drivers are preparing with diligent focus, the teams are prepping for every possible scenario while hoping for the best, and the fans are planning out their commute times and hydration plans… but she, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, is sitting majestically just west of Downtown Indy, with a secret. A secret that we won’t be privy to until the checkered flag waves on May 29th, 2016. Then and only then will she smile and allow us to share in her secret with the victor, a rush of adrenaline, and a swig of milk.