Pagenaud Adds to Déjà vu in Detroit

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photogrid_1465147567642.jpgThe term Déjà vu is of French origin, so it’s only fitting that one of the two French drivers in the Verizon IndyCar Series is creating one heck of a Déjà vu scenario at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit on Belle Isle, which mind you, is basically in Canada (more French connections). Not only do we have two practices, two qualifications, and two races this weekend for the only doubleheader on the schedule, but we now have the same pole-sitter for both races – Simon Pagenaud of Team Penske.

The driver of the No. 22 Hewlett-Packard Enterprises Chevrolet won his 5th and 6th poles this weekend in different formats. The one on Friday was a standard road/street qualifications format, with three rounds culminating in the Firestone Fast 6 competition. Today, we split the field and each ran 12 minute segments, the fastest across the board winning the Verizon P1 Award.

Pagenaud was quickest in Group 1 and became the provisional polesitter. The skies went from blue to grey over those 12 minutes and the temperature decreased. This change in air conditions affects everything and it was clear that Group 2 was running faster, sooner in their session than Group 1. It looked like Scott Dixon (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Chevy), Kanaan (No. 10 NTT Data Ganassi Chevy) or Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevy) had the opportunity to match or beat Pagenaud’s time. Then the rain drops started to fall. They were few and far between but they slowed the field just enough to keep the cars at bay. Well, not all of them. Power ended up running two laps faster than Pagenaud, but was penalized before even running them due to Qualifying Interference, and lost them both, setting him back to P8 with his third best lap (1:14. 8392) being the valid one for the Aussie.

Power was not the only one receiving penalties and losing their best times on Sunday:

“Pphotogrid_1465136823640.jpgersuant to Rule 8.3.7, 12-Power had best two lap times invalidated in his session for qualifying interference. Persuant to Rule 8.3.7.2, 18-Daly and 27-Andretti had their best lap invalidated in their session for causing a local yellow in the session which interfered with another driver’s lap. Persuant to Rule 7.1.3.2, 98-Rossi had lap time invalidated in his session for not slowing down under a yellow condition.”

Needless to say, none of the penalized drivers or teams are happy. But, if the causes of the penalties were ignored, we would also have an angry paddock. Pagenaud gave kudos to his Team Penske teammate during his post-qualifying press conference this morning saying that Power did a “tremendous” job with his laps and the impressive times he ran – particularly the fastest lap that he lost, which was clocked at 1:13.88. No one else has broken into the minute-thirteens at Belle Isle.

But we can’t focus on things that have been wiped from the slate. The grid is officially set for the second race this afternoon on beautiful Belle Isle, overlooking the downtown Detroit skyline. Now, we have to hope that our “sun dances” are working and that Mother Nature is in a better mood this weekend than she was for the doubleheader here last year. So far, so good…

Verizon IndyCar Series track times at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans:
Friday, June 3: Practice #1 – 10:45 a.m.; Quals for Dual #1 – 3:30 p.m.
Saturday, June 4: Practice #2 – 10:05 a.m.; Dual #1 – 3:30 p.m.

Sunday, June 5: Systems Check – 8:45 a.m.; Quals for Dual #2 – 10:45 a.m.; Dual #2 – 3:30 p.m.

The Chevrolet Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans (Duels 1 & 2) will be broadcast live on ABC. All other track action for IndyCar will be livestreamed via IndyCar – all information and links to those plus radio coverage is available here.

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