Team Penske’s Verizon IndyCar Series points leader Simon Pagenaud in the No.22 Hewlett Packard Enterprises Chevrolet did a great job at the Texas Motor Speedway to finish the Firestone 600 in fourth place having restarted the event from 15th place.
Pagenaud is now 28 points ahead of his team mate Will Power in the hunt for the championship with just two races remaining this season. Speaking following the race, the Frenchman commented by saying:
My spotter said, ‘four-wide’, and I’m like ‘Uh oh, that’s no good’. And then (Graham) Rahal touched me and I touched (James) Hinchcliffe, so I was actually loose going into the corner and had to back out of it. It’s unfortunate. I really wanted to get that first oval win. But, I think no matter what, that was a great performance. The HP car was amazing all night. Thanks to Chevy, obviously; this aero kit is really amazing. It really shows what the Indy cars can do. I think tonight we had a great show. Did you guys enjoy it? I did. Wow. That was exciting. I don’t think I have any breath left. I thought we were going to get it, but when it went four wide I got touched and pushed me into (James Hinchcliffe) and I had to back out of it or there was going to be a big wreck. The Hewlett Packard Enterprise Chevy just got better and better all night. I really thought it was going to come together right at the end when we got back on the lead lap. We were able to come in for tires. Everything nearly came together.
Helio Castroneves came from seventh to finish the race just behind Pagenaud in fifth place in the AAA Insurance Chevrolet. Speaking following the race, Castroneves commented by saying:
That was an eventful night. The AAA Insurance Chevrolet was really good from the very start. We ran up front and led some laps. Then, all kinds of things happened. We caught a break with a yellow which allowed us to come in and change both the front and rear wings. To dodge as many accidents as we did and finish fifth is very good. There were some crazy moves up there at the end that could have ruined just about everybody’s day. But we’re ready to head to Watkins Glen.
Will Power who restarted the race in fourth place and came home in eighth place just ahead of team mate Juan Pablo Montoya and speaking following the race he commented by saying:
(On Texas being the race that changes the points battle) “Yeah, I would say that. Obviously there are still plenty of points on the table. Simon (Pagenaud) did a good job to get up there and get his lap back and get tires to make it up there. But that was an intense race there at the end. I kind of just stayed out of it.” (On not finishing second or third for the first time since Detroit and what made the difference) “I think it was definitely the pit stop sequences. We kept going long. That yellow had us there at the end. And I think if we didn’t get that yellow, I would have finished around Simon; maybe ahead, maybe behind, however the stint played out, but much closer to him. But that was going to be a crazy restart at the end there. It was something to watch. Intense racing there at the end, especially with the last restart and with new tires and cool air being a factor. The cautions in the midst of some of the pit stop sequences made it more difficult to get back up into the top two or three, but the Verizon Chevy was still strong today. We are still up there in points and Watkins Glen is right around the corner for us. We’ll look ahead to next week.
Juan Pablo Montoya in the No.2 Hum by Verizon Chevrolet restarted the race from 10th place having qualified in 17th and finished the race in ninth place just ahead of Sebastien Bourdais and speaking following the race the Colombian commented by saying:
It was just OK. We struggled most of the night in the long run pace. The short run pace was good. I restarted last there, and drove up to fourth. It is little too late like every race has been. Just mistakes again that we really have to work on that.