Add another point to the tally.
Simon Pagenaud just earned his 6th Verizon P1 Award of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season. It was the 8th of his career and his first at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Pagenaud finished on the podium with a P3 finish at the Honda Indy 200 last year, alongside winner Graham Rahal and the late Justin Wilson, who took home a P2 finish.
This is his 6th consecutive Top 5 start for Pagenaud and 14th consecutive Top 10 start. Pagenaud also broke the track record in the third round of qualifying, with the lap that won him the pole with a time of 1:03.8700, beating Dixon’s 2015 record by more than seven-tenths of second. Today’s pole adds to the Team Penske tally as well, in giving them their 501st pole position (244th in Indy car racing), 8th road and street pole of the season (out of 9 road and street races), and 10th pole of the season, overall.
Pagenaud is the leader in Championship points, extending that by one more point today, putting a 48 point gap between him and teammate, Will Power.
The facts and figures are incredible as is, but add to the fact that this course is, as admitted by the Firestone Fast 6 today, one of the most physical tracks they’ve raced this season. The heat in combination with the fact that they just keep finding more and more speed the harder they push themselves and their cars, puts them in a place where they have to mentally train themselves to focus on every detail, from pushing the throttle at a precise fraction of a second to braking at a meticulously strategic moment in each turn. The slightest alteration could lead to getting passed, going off track, or colliding with another contender.
After qualifying completed, the Fast 6, which included Josef Newgarden, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Will Power, Charlie Kimball, Graham Rahal, and Simon Pagenaud explained their elevated heart rates when driving at Mid-Ohio (upwards of 190bpm) and state that those kind of factors should be listed in the telemetry for spectators to see as well. Mind you, these are elite athletes, with low resting heart rates. Let me emphasize the word, athletes. That point seems to be one that IndyCar drivers want to drill into the minds of, well, anyone that might not already understand that it’s a fact. Not an opinion, but a fact.
Perfect example, in the press conference following the qualifying rounds, polesitter Simon Pagenaud offered the information that he’s been struggling with his back this weekend. He stated that it started about three laps in on Friday, and it felt like someone stuck a knife in his lower back. He admitted that as of this morning, he didn’t even know if he would be able to partake in qualifying at all, but to paraphrase Pagenaud… the doctors took care of him and got him in shape to do so. Beyond that, they will figure things out on Monday.
IndyCar teams have a crew that tends to their cars every day, making sure that they operate in top condition and are ready to be pushed to extreme limits.
Similarly, IndyCar drivers have a team that tends to them every day, making sure they operate in top condition and are ready to be pushed to extreme limits. We’ve seen this proven many times over – James Hinchcliffe, Mikhail Aleshin, and Josef Newgarden, just to name a few of the recent resiliency stories. Simon Pagenaud represents more proof of that today. That proof is that the human mind is capable of anything when focused, especially when the people around you have their eye on the same prize.
Today, the prize was the Verizon P1 Award at Mid-Ohio.
Verizon IndyCar Series track times for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio:
Friday, July 29:
Practice #1 – 10:00 – 11:15 a.m. ET
Practice #2 – 2:00 – 3:15 p.m. ET
Saturday, July 30:
Practice #3 – 9:45 – 10:30 a.m. ET
Quals – 2:00 – 3:15 p.m. ET
Sunday, July 17:
Warm Up – 10:15 – 10:45 a.m. ET
Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Race – 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. E.T.
The Honda Indy 200 Practice #2 and Qualifying will be broadcast live on NBCSN. The race will be broadcast live on CNBC. Practice sessions #1 & #3 will be livestreamed via IndyCar. All links to livestream, plus information on radio coverage is available here.