By: Ashley McCubbin
While known for his fun personality off the track, it’s safe to say that Simon Pagenaud is keeping it serious thus far with the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge. After all, he has won the last two events in a row.
“At the end it got a bit crazy,” he admitted following Japan. “Yeah, what’s fun to me, it’s actually that you’re racing the exact same guys as usual, exact same moves as you would in real life. You keep turning your wheels in your head.
“Right now we’re not racing, so we’re racing on the weekend. That gives me a lot of joy. The adrenaline was definitely at the maximum level at the end of the race.”
While the victory at Michigan was all about strategy, the second win was a combination of that strategy and perhaps some lady luck in watching his teammate Will Power make contact with the lap car of Oliver Askew.
“I saw it happening,” Pagenaud recalled. “He came out of the pits on new tires right next to me. We had a bit of a battle as well. Kind of touched a little bit. I let him by because I could see he was very aggressive and on new tires.
“My hope was that I was going to use his draft to get back to Scott (Dixon) and Will. Then he wiped them out. After that it was hard with Will. So much understeer, I chose the outside lane which probably wasn’t smart. So, yeah, I thought that was Dixon’s win right there. We managed to come out of it and get another very strong result for Team Penske.
“It’s pretty cool that we have the whole team behind us. I’m getting more messages than usual for a race win, so it’s pretty amazing to see the whole team following the races and being able to represent them so well. It’s awesome for the guys. It gives them a lot of hope for the season to start.”
The victories may be fun for the Team Penske driver, but they haven’t come easily, as he attributes it to putting in a lot of hours so he can be at the same level of Power and Sage Karam, who have previous experience. It also could pay dividends once the NTT IndyCar Series season does get back on-track, too.
“I’m working with Ben my racing engineer on the strategy,” Pagenaud commented. “We get to talk on the radio like we would on a race weekend. I think it’s just keeping the communication alive. It feels like we’ve raced a few times this year already. I think when racing gets going, we’re not going to be rusty. That’s important.”
iRacing has been a great support for us. Yeah, that’s been important for everybody at Team Penske, as well. We represent our sponsors. They need some love right now. DXC Technology, Chevy, Menards.
Even though he’s been serious behind the wheel, Pagenaud is still having some fun, adorning his firesuit each week.
“I’m racing with my race suit to give some love to DXC Technology and Chevy. Pretty hot (laughter). It’s not comfortable in the racecar anyways,” he commented. “It’s a good day when you’re beating Scott Dixon and Will Power. It’s an awesome day. I enjoy it so much. Will is going to be upset all week long, that’s so much better, makes me even happier. I feel great right now, super happy.”
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