INDIANAPOLIS – Simon Pagenaud has to wonder what he did to piss off lady luck. In the season opening race at St. Pete, he spun in qualifying and started 11th. He never had much for that race and would come home 13th. The next race at Phoenix, he started on the front row, but while entering the pits inside of the top three, he had a bad first pit stop and would never get the track position he needed. Despite having a fast car, he’d finish 10th.
A week later, he rolled off third, but on the opening lap in the first turn, Graham Rahal got into the back of him causing his No. 22 Chevrolet to crash as a result. He didn’t even complete one lap and would finish 24th.
On Saturday, for the second time in three races, Pagenaud was punted on the opening lap. This time, it was Jordan King. This time, it was at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This time, it was his on a day where it was his turn to win again.
See, Pagenaud has won this race in every other year fashion. He won the inaugural race in 2014. He won the third race of the event in 2016. 2018 was next. He rolled off seventh and had a car to contend, but he never got a chance to show it. He did charge hard to finish with an eighth place finish, his best of the season.
“What a day,” Pagenaud said after a top 10 result at Indy. “I can’t believe my luck so far this season. Maybe that is good for Indy 500. I keep saying it. It’s coming up now. Hopefully I get all the luck in the world for the 500. It was an awesome car today, fantastic. I think we could have challenged for the win. It is what it is. We recovered from the first lap incident. They opened the pit and we pitted, then they threw the green flag that next lap so we couldn’t get back to the pack. The car was very good and the Chevy power was awesome. We managed to finish the race with good fuel consumption and was able to pass Graham Rahal just before start finish because of fuel consumption. Awesome heading to 500. Congratulations to Will (Power) – he made it three here now. So, I have to catch him next year. Also, it is the 200th win for Team Penske in INDYCAR. It is phenomenal. What a team. It is an honor to be part of it.”
Imagine what would happen if he didn’t have early race troubles? That’s where it’s hard to swallow right now for the Frenchman. He’s not driving bad. In fact, nothing has changed. Luck is the only thing that has and it hasn’t gone is his direction.