Earchphoto Sports - Simon Pagenaud

The day after, it still has yet to sink in for Simon Pagenaud.

The greatest spectacle in racing, the Indianapolis 500, is over. The countdown for 2020 begins, 364 days to go. Before that, Simon’s face will go on the Borg-Warner Trophy, and there is a possibility that he may be able to arrange for the trophy to visit France. For him, this is all a dream come true.

Earchphoto Sports - Simon Pagenaud
Simon Pagenaud of Team Penske
Earchphoto Sports - Simon Pagenaud
Simon Pagenaud of Team Penske

At IMS (Indianapolis Motor Speedway), May is a never-ending adventure. The Indy Grand Prix opens the racing on the oval, and it was the start of a winning streak for Pagenaud when he crossed the finish line in first place on May 11th.

Earchphoto Sports - Simon Pagenaud on track
Simon Pagenaud on track.

For Pagenaud, the Indianapolis Indycar Grand Prix was his 12th career win, and helped him set his sights on the upcoming Indy 500.

As practice days for the 2019 Indy 500 began, Team Penske’s No.22 was up with the fastest group of cars. On the first day of practice, Pagenaud had the 2nd best speed with 229.703 mph. He was 15th and 10th on practice days 2 and 3, and back in the top ten on Fast Friday with a 7th fastest lap at 230.326 mph. During the first practice week, the fastest laps were posted by Power, Newgarden, Jones, and Daly.

Earchphoto Sports - Will Power entering the oval
Will Power entering the oval
Earchphoto Sports - Will Power getting ready
Will Power getting ready

On day 1 of qualifying, he posted the third best speed, behind Spencer Pigot and Will Power, and secured himself a run for the Fast 9. While positions 10 (Marco Andretti) to 30 (Pippa Mann) were locked in, the Fast 9, along with the contenders for the last row, had their shootout on Sunday.

Earchphoto Sports - Marco Andretti on track at IMS
Marco Andretti on track at IMS
Earchphoto Sports - Pippa Mann on track at IMS
Pippa Mann leading a group on track at IMS

When Sunday arrived, it was time for the yellow Team Penske Chevrolet to shine. Simon Pagenaud drove four consistent laps with an average speed of 229.992 mph and won the pole for the Indianapolis 500, narrowly edging out Ed Carpenter and Spencer Pigot.

Earchphoto Sports - Simon Pagenaud prepares for Sunday qualifying
Simon Pagenaud prepares for Sunday qualifying
Earchphoto Sports -Spencer Pigot on track
Spencer Pigot on track
Earchphoto Sports - Simon Pagenaud on track
Simon Pagenaud on track

Circuit rookie, Colton Herta, winner of the first Indycar Classic at COTA, qualified 5th, sharing second row with Ed Jones and Will Power. The third row included Bourdais, Newgarden, and Rossi.

Earchphoto Sports - Colton Herta before the Fast 9 shootout
Colton Herta before the Fast 9 shootout
Earchphoto Sports - Colton Herta before the Fast 9 shootout
Colton Herta before the Fast 9 shootout
Earchphoto Sports - Colton Herta on track
Colton Herta on track

While the Fast 9 drivers were deciding the order of the first three rows, Sunday’s real drama unfolded in the last row shootout, set to decide positions 31-33.

James Hinchcliffe, after a horrific accident on Saturday, had made a few unsuccessful attempts to qualify the car. Likewise, Patricio O’Ward was trying to qualify with a different car after a close encounter with the wall in turn 2 during practice.

Earchphoto Sports - James Hinchcliffe gets ready for the last row shootout
James Hinchcliffe gets ready for the last row shootout
Earchphoto Sports - James Hinchcliffe gets ready for the last row shootout
James Hinchcliffe gets ready for the last row shootout

Completing the last row shootout hopefuls were Kyle Kaiser, Sage Karam, Max Chilton, and surprisingly, Team McLaren’s Fernando Alonso.

Earchphoto Sports - Fernando Alonso waiting for his turn at the last row shootout
Fernando Alonso waiting for his turn at the last row shootout
Earchphoto Sports - Fernando Alonso ready for the last row shootout
Fernando Alonso ready for the last row shootout

Through the drama of bump day, Karam, Hinchcliffe, and Kaiser earned their spots on the last row, leaving O’Ward, Alonso, and Chilton out of the 2019 race.

Earchphoto Sports - Sage Karam in the car for the last row shootout
Sage Karam in the car for the last row shootout
Earchphoto Sports - Sage Karam on track
Sage Karam on track
Earchphoto Sports - Kyle Kaiser leaves the pits during the last row shootout
Kyle Kaiser leaves the pits during the last row shootout
Earchphoto Sports - Kyle Kaiser of Juncos Racing Team
Kyle Kaiser of Juncos Racing Team

With the final grid set, it was time for week 2, and for two more practice sessions on Monday and Friday (Carb Day). On Monday, Simon Pagenaud posted the fastest speed with 228.441 mph, followed by Newgarden and Hinchcliffe. On Friday, Tony Kanaan topped the speed chart, ahead of Santino Ferrucci and Takuma Sato.

Earchphoto Sports - Tony Kanaan on track
Tony Kanaan on track
Earchphoto Sports - Tony Kanaan on track
Tony Kanaan on track

On Media Day, Pagenaud told reporters that the key to the Indianapolis 500 is the desire to win, and that he desired first place more than anyone else on the grid. A few other drivers, including the fastest on Carb Day, Tony Kanaan, stated that they believed every single car in the field of 33 had a chance. At the press conference, Kanaan admitted that this was probably the tightest field he had ever raced in, and that each driver on the grid believed they could win the race.

Earchphoto Sports - Tony Kanaan during the press conference on Carb Day
Tony Kanaan during the press conference on Carb Day

Pagenaud’s teammate Helio Castroneves, a 3 time Indy 500 winner, was in the field as a one-off driver with Team Penske for the second year in a row. After several full seasons in Indycar, Castroneves was on the team for the two Indianapolis races in 2018 and 2019 – the Indycar Grand Prix on the road course and The Indianapolis 500 on the oval. On a quest for the 4th win, ‘spiderman’ Helio had made several qualifying attempts to improve his position, but remained outside of the Fast 9 with a final spot of p12 on the grid.

Earchphoto Sports - Helio Castroneves prepares to drive
Helio Castroneves prepares to drive
Earchphoto Sports - Helio Castroneves on track
Helio Castroneves on track
Earchphoto Sports - Helio Castroneves on track
Helio Castroneves on track
Earchphoto Sports - Helio Castroneves on track
Helio Castroneves on track

On race day, it was a battle between Rossi and Pagenaud, and after they exchanged the lead a few times, Pagenaud held on for the win. Takuma Sato, who had started in 14th position, fell back after an issue during the first pit stop and then began reclaiming positions. After the six-car incident that put Veach, Bourdais, Rahal, and Rosenqvist out of contention, he reclaimed fifth place before passing Carpenter and Dixon to take 3rd. Sato then started charging after Rossi and Pagenaud, but there was not enough race left for him to improve his position and he crossed the finish line in third place.

Earchphoto Sports - Takuma Sato's car at IMS
Takuma Sato’s car at IMS
Earchphoto Sports - Takuma Sato leading a group of cars on the IMS oval
Takuma Sato leading a group of cars on the IMS oval
Earchphoto Sports - Takuma Sato on track at IMS
Takuma Sato on track at IMS
Earchphoto Sports - Takuma Sato signs autographs for the fans at IMS
Takuma Sato signs autographs for the fans at IMS

Kanaan and Hinchcliffe finished in 9th and 11th respectively, and Pippa Mann took 16th place with the Clauson-Marshall Team, followed by Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves.

Earchphoto Sports - James Hinchcliffe during media day at IMS
James Hinchcliffe during media day at IMS
Earchphoto Sports - Helio Castroneves speaks to reporters during media day at IMS
Helio Castroneves speaks to reporters during media day at IMS
Earchphoto Sports - Pippa Mann signs autographs for the fans at IMS
Pippa Mann signs autographs for the fans at IMS

As Pagenaud crossed the yard of bricks under the checkered flag, the crowd exploded. This was the 18th victory for Team Penske on the IMS oval, and Pagenaud’s first. His desire to win had paid off.

Earchphoto Sports - IMS traditions: Simon Pagenaud with the bottle of milk
IMS traditions: Simon Pagenaud with the bottle of milk
Earchphoto Sports - IMS traditions: Simon Pagenaud kissing the bricks
IMS traditions: Simon Pagenaud kissing the bricks
Earchphoto Sports - Simon Pagenaud celebrates victory
Simon Pagenaud celebrates victory
Earchphoto Sports - Simon Pagenaud celebrates victory
Simon Pagenaud celebrates victory
Earchphoto Sports - Simon Pagenaud celebrates victory
Simon Pagenaud celebrates victory

Simon’s family was there to celebrate with him at the brickyard. His mother Sylvie later said to reporters that his story is one of hard work and passion, and he clearly showed his passion and joy during the celebration – savoring every moment of the coveted Brickyard traditions.

Earchphoto Sports - Team Penske on the yard of bricks
Team Penske on the yard of bricks
Earchphoto Sports - Simon Pagenaud on the yard of bricks
Simon Pagenaud on the yard of bricks
Earchphoto Sports - Simon Pagenaud with Norman and the Borg-Warner Trophy on the yard of bricks
Simon Pagenaud with Norman and the Borg-Warner Trophy on the yard of bricks

The day after, as we all lined up for the traditional winner photoshoot, he was still celebrating and enjoying the moment. For him, as he said during the last press conference – it had all been an amazing month. Winning the Grand Prix on the road course, earning the Pole, and then winning the Indianapolis 500.

May 2019 was indeed the month of Simon.

Earchphoto Sports - Simon Pagenaud on the yard of bricks
Simon Pagenaud on the yard of bricks

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