It’s always been known in the sports world that the hardest thing to do in sports isn’t the climb to the top but actually staying there. Take Verizon IndyCar Series driver Simon Pagenaud for a prime example. He’s the defending series champion and started on the pole and won the race at Sonoma last year. But, this year he needs to do that again and hope for some help and according to his stats, he should need help.
Pagenaud, has 14 top 10 finishes in 16 races this season. Furthermore, he has 12 top five efforts too. No one else is within three top fives of that number. He’s actually the only driver to complete every lap this season. Only one driver in the history of the sport has ever accomplished that feat and Pagenaud is 85 laps from being the second.
Unfortunately, he currently trails Josef Newgarden by 34 points and is fourth in the standings. But, he’s sitting too far out to realistically strike gold on his own at Sonoma despite having nine straight top 10 finishes on the season. Seven of those eight have also been in the top five too.
“It’s very hard. It’s very hard. And I think it’s even harder to repeat, quite frankly,” Pagenaud said of his situation entering Sonoma. “You know, I’ve found myself in a great situation last year with a dominant performance, but repeating is even harder just because you have a baseline of things that worked the year before, and you’re hoping it will do the same. But reality is you have to adapt to situations, and this year has been a very different year for me, which is no real explanation for it, it’s just the way it is. But that’s what I’ve found the most challenging thing in the next year of a championship. That’s where we are, but the championship this year has been very competitive, multiple winners, a lot more winners than usual, a lot of good luck and bad luck for some, a lot of good cars, as well, Honda making a jump compared to last year in terms of performance, so obviously that tightened the ranks between Chevy and Honda and made it possible for a lot more drivers to win. So with all that in account, it’s a much different year with a different aspect, and I’m quite excited about it. I think it’s fantastic for the show. It’s great for the series.
At Sonoma, he’s had four top 10’s and three top fives in six career starts. He’s led 76 laps too. On natural road courses, he has finishes this season of third, fourth, fourth, fourth and ninth respectively. He’s going to have a shot, but he needs some help.
Pagenaud, said he’s just going to focus on himself and hope for the best. He can’t control what others do so no need to get wrapped up in that.
“At the end of the day, I just have to focus the best I can and extract the best out of the car all weekend, and like I said earlier, just focus on myself because you can only control what you can control. I always say, I keep saying it, but there’s no need to focus on the others when especially it comes to such a stressful and pressure last race. Yeah, it’s going to be fun.”