AVONDALE, AZ – Simon Pagenaud has never really been known as an oval racer. The Team Penske driver has always been strong on road/street courses, but he’s still trying to learn on the ovals.
Pagenaud, had zero oval experience before joining the Verizon IndyCar Series, but he’s quickly becoming a solid threat on those type of tracks now.
The Frenchman quietly brought his No. 22 Chevrolet home to a second place effort under the lights at the Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday night, as that finish propels Pagenaud to the points lead for the first time of his IndyCar career.
I wrote this offseason how I fully expected a breakout year for Pagenaud, as he struggled a bit with his new Penske home last year. But, after a full season together, the time was now for Pagenaud to show us what he’s really got.
After the first two races of the 2016 season, he’s doing just that.
Pagenaud finished second after leading 48 laps in the season opener at St. Pete, and tonight, he showed the patience that it takes to salvage a great finish on an oval as Pagenaud stayed out of trouble all night and came out of the pits second with 51 laps-to-go in the race.
He would stay there the rest of the way for his second straight second place finish. He now hold the points lead heading into Long Beach in two weeks as he’s got a prime opportunity to really make some noise this year.
Pagenaud will be a threat when the series resumes to action in two weeks as I wouldn’t be shocked to see him in the top three in the standings heading to Indy.