Prior to winning the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series championship, Simon Pagenaud just quietly flew under the radar. It was really a disservice to him and his talented abilities, but he ended up winning the title for the 2016 season and for the first time of his racing career, had the bullseye on his back last year.
He narrowly lost out on a second straight championship in 2017, but now returns in 2018 looking to reclaim his glory. But, one thing was apparent after 12 hours of testing this weekend at the ISM Raceway, Pagenaud is flying under the radar again.
I don’t get it, especially with his skill and how brightly colored his No. 22 Menards Chevrolet is. How can you miss him?
But, AJ Foyt Racing and Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan’s surge to the top of the speed charts was a big story, as was the new 2018 car in general. You just get the sense that they stole the headlines this weekend.
There Pagenaud was though, quietly being found near the top of the speed charts in all four sessions. The Team Penske driver was second, third, fifth and eighth respectively in all four three-hour long sessions, making him among the top drivers of the test.
As everyone is saying how even this year’s field could be, Pagenaud is showing that he’s not going anywhere and could very well be among the favorites to win the 2018 title. I get that this test was just that, a test, but Pagenaud made a statement, a strong one too.
He’s the defending race winner at Phoenix and if he keeps this pace up when we return in April, he can win again for the second consecutive year.