Turnaround season for Pagenaud ends on a excessive
Simon Pagenaud fell simply wanting including a second IndyCar championship to his resume his yr, however he succeeded in finishing a exceptional turnaround to a season that started along with his being dogged by hypothesis — unfounded, he’s fast to level out — about his future.
Pagenaud went winless in 2018, a yr spent struggling to discover a candy spot in final yr’s new aero package deal, which led to rumors by way of the winter about his future with Penske. However a clear sweep in Indianapolis — together with a career-defining Indy 500 win — snowballed into a robust second half of 2019 that included one other win at Toronto, and a championship push that in the end left him second to Penske stablemate Josef Newgarden.
“There have been loads of rumors about me, which was very detrimental,” Pagenaud stated. “It was all made up, and I don’t know why that was occurring. The efficiency was there, and we turned issues round within the winter already; and I felt actually assured going into the season.
“So I took the method of staying optimistic and making an attempt to let the universe go my manner this yr; and definitely we turned issues round in that side in Could. We had loads of dangerous luck to begin the season, regardless of having efficiency, however we simply stored getting higher and higher by way of the yr.
“Definitely successful Indy, on a private notice, was an enormous aid, simply because personally I really feel extra related in my sport. I really feel like I’ve stamped my time. It’s a really fulfilling accomplishment, and it definitely helped me to drive higher and be a greater driver after that, 100%.
“I believe you’ve seen me drive even higher than . I’ve managed to work on different areas of my driving fashion, and I believe you noticed it at present. I will be actually aggressive — I can cross folks, and it was one thing I couldn’t actually do earlier than. I needed to begin up entrance and go.”
A few of that renewed aptitude for overtaking was evident at Laguna Seca on Sunday till he got here up towards Scott Dixon — a tough driver to cross at the most effective of occasions, however even tougher when the motive force making an attempt to do the passing has already burned by way of most of his push-to-pass.
“I noticed that I had the tempo to go get Dixon and Herta, so I attempted; and sadly the lock was Dixon,” stated Pagenaud, who primarily wanted to win to maintain his championship hopes alive. “It was very, very troublesome to get round him. I used to be out of push-to-pass, which I had to make use of in a pit sequence to leap folks. I spent an excessive amount of cash, mainly, too shortly!
His greatest probabilities got here on the hairpin within the closing laps, however these, he admitted, had been principally bluster.
“I used to be bluffing,” he stated. “I believed he was going to surrender, and he didn’t. Definitely shocked me. He was extra aggressive than standard. You realize your opponents, you recognize what you are able to do with them or not, and I knew with Scott, if I used to be overly aggressive, that possibly he would possibly surrender. However he didn’t surrender. He’s an amazing champion. I might have, possibly, pushed him off, however that’s not my fashion. I’m a clear racer, and I respect him quite a bit. I attempted — I gave it an sincere strive — and it wasn’t sufficient.
“However general I believed it was a tremendous race. I believed we gave an awesome present for the followers, and it was an awesome crowd out right here at present, and there’s nothing to be disenchanted about. I attempted as laborious as I might all weekend. You noticed me drive with my coronary heart. I gained Indianapolis this yr. There’s nothing to be disenchanted about. We completed second. That’s the second time we’re second within the championship. We gained the championship in ’16. I believe the numbers discuss for themselves.
“I had a blast. I had a blast at present. It was disappointing to not get Dixon as a result of I actually thought I had a shot for the win and Herta. However it’s what it’s. I attempted all the pieces I had, and it didn’t work out.”