2016 Verizon IndyCar Series champion Simon Pagenaud was delighted as he won his first championship.
The Team Penske driver who pilots the No.22 Hewlett Packard Chevrolet completely dominated the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma weekend, taking his seventh Verizon P1 Award of the year on Saturday earning a bonus point going into the race 44 points clear of rival and team mate Will Power.
In the race, Pagenaud dominated from start to finish claiming his fifth win of the season and with it his first Verizon IndyCar Series championship and Roger Penske’s 14th. Speaking following the race, Pagenaud commented by saying:
It’s unbelievable. I think I will realize it more tomorrow. What a race. There is so much emotion right now, to be honest, I don’t know if you can see it. I can’t find the words. My whole career has been about this, about today and getting to this point and to this level. When you can perform 100 percent under pressure like this is amazing. It’s such a good thing. It’s me winning but it’s the whole team, the No. 22 team and Team Penske.
Pagenaud’s rival Will Power suffered a clutch issue on lap 37 of the race and went eight laps down as the No.12 Verizon crew attempted to fix the issue on pit-road. Power ended up finishing the race in 20th place.
Speaking following the race, Power commented by saying:
It was obviously disappointing to have that gearbox problem. I think Simon (Pagenaud) was going to be tough to beat as far as the championship goes. Maybe we could have beaten him for the win, but I doubt it if everything just played out as it was. That was that. But honestly it was still a very strong year. Four race wins, I won a 500-mile race. Not the right one, but still a 500-miler. It’s a 1-2-3 for the team, which is really good, considering how it finished last year. I think the team is really strong now. Another second place (laughter).
Helio Castroneves who started the race on the front row alongside team mate Simon Pagenaud in the No.3 Hitachi Chevrolet finished the race in seventh place but was able to secure third place in the standings.
Speaking following the race the Brazilian commented by saying:
Congratulations, Simon. Well deserved, no question. Throughout the entire season, he was not only an amazing driver but a champion. Really honored to be working with a guy like that. The whole team was a dream to work with and today was the proof of that.
Juan Pablo Montoya in the No.2 Hum Chevrolet scored his first podium since Detroit as he ended his season in third place and ended the championship inside the top ten in the series standing in eighth place.
Speaking following the race Montoya said that there is still the possibility of remaining with Team Penske next season.