Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud in the No.22 DevilBliss Chevrolet secured his second consecutive podium finish at last night’s Devil Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix at Phoenix International Raceway and in doing so heading to the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach with a five point advantage ov aer Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon.
Pagenaud started the Desert Diamond Phoenix Grand Prix from 10th place on the grid and came through the field to finish the race in second place following a close battle with team mate Will Power.
Speaking following the race, Pagenaud stated:
I am super happy to be able to finish second here in Phoenix and I want to give a huge thanks to my team. The No. 2 Devilbiss guys were just fantastic. This is a team sport and we really proved it tonight. We saved a lot of fuel running in traffic and my guys just made it happen for us on the pit stops. Running on short ovals wasn’t our strength in the past but this result shows a lot of progress and promise for the future as well. It feels great to be leading the points right now but we need to keep it going. Hopefully we can take the next step up and add to it at Long Beach.
Will Power in the No.12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet taking part in his first race of the season following an illness that led to him missing the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg did a great job to finish the race on the podium in third place having started the event from ninth on the grid.
Speaking following the race, the Australian commented by saying:
It feels pretty good to finish this race and come away with a top-three finish in the Verizon Chevy. I was a bit nervous before the race because I missed the first one of the year and was just wanting to get through this but as the race went on I got more and more energy. I started to think we had a shot to win it. The Verizon guys in the pits were just mega. They really put me in a good position all night long. We’ll definitely take third (place) and we’re excited to go to Long Beach and see if we can get the first win of the year there.
Juan Pablo Montoya was left frustrated as the Colombian looked certain to take his second win of the season leading 56 laps of the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix before he suffered a flat tyre on lap 96 and dropped down the order to 20th place however he recovered well making his way back through the field to end the race in 9th place having started from third.
Speaking following the race, he commented by saying:
This was more of an attrition race because we are the fastest cars but you get hit with yellows and cut tires so it’s not a true sense of what our cars were capable of. Simon and Will showed through, but with Helio and myself we got caught up with a cut tire, so it would have been a totally different race. Phoenix is a short oval and the speeds kept up, but everybody was on alert and everybody was pretty close. I thought there would be a lot more gaps, but everyone was pretty much in the same zone. The car kept getting a vibration and then it would settle and then would go from a three car gap to a 15 to 20 car gap. Overall, the Verizon Chevy was pushing pretty hard and was still able to stay in the top 10. Not the finish we wanted, but we’ll look ahead to Long Beach and go from there.
P1 Award winner Helio Castroneves in the No.3 REV Group Team Penske Chevrolet endured a tough race despite leading 39 laps of the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix as the Brazilian suffered a cut tyre and went a number of laps down as he pitted for a new set of Firestone tyres.
The Brazilian managed to work his way back through the field finishing the race in 11th place and speaking following the race, Castroneves commented saying:
First of all, it was great to start on pole and to get the track record for our new sponsor REV. I wish we could’ve done the same in the race. Unfortunately, we cut a tire. There was never an indication there was any problem with the tire so by the time we realized it was going flat, it was too late. Everything was going so smooth, it was too good to be true. Once you go slow on a one-mile oval like that it’s like an eternity to get back to pit lane. We lost a lot with that. Really, to finish on the lead lap and in the top 11 shows just how good the REV Chevy car was this weekend. It was great for the series to be back racing here in Phoenix. Thanks to all the fans that came out and we’re all happy to be back.