INDIANAPOLIS – Statement made. Simon Pagenaud said last month in Long Beach that he didn’t go anywhere. See, at the time, Pagenaud was running well, but just not good enough. It got people speculating on his job security with Team Penske.
But, in the end of the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500, it was Pagenaud who beat whom many considered was going to be his replacement with Penske.
Pagenaud, passed Alexander Rossi in the closing laps of Sunday’s race and held off the hard charging Andretti Autosport driver en route to the sixth closest finish in ‘500 history.
Pagenaud, passed Rossi with two laps remaining and moved to the inside in his No. 22 Chevrolet to hold off a block by Rossi coming to the white flag. Then, on the backstretch, Pagenaud blocked high and again low, which halted any momentum Rossi had and bested the American by just 0.209-seconds.
It was Pagenaud’s 12th career NTT IndyCar Series victory and second straight. He becomes the second driver to sweep the Month of May as he also won the May 11 INDYCAR Grand Prix on the 2.439-mile road course. Will Power did the same last year. This time though, Pagenaud started on the pole for Sunday’s 200 Lap race.
Pagenaud, qualified on the pole and led a race-high 116 of 200 laps en route to the thriling victory. It was just his second win since the 2017 season finale in Sonoma. The win gives him a one point lead heading to Belle Isle next weekend.
Rossi, was hired as Penske’s endurance driver in IMSA competition. He is a free agent at years end. With how well Rossi has done lately, he was the perfect driver to head to Penske.
He had to settle for a second place run in his No. 27 Honda for his fourth top seven finish in as many tries here at Indy. He also has five top 10 finishes in six tries in 2019 too.
Takuma Sato rebounded from falling down a lap early due to having to pit twice on his first stop due to a right rear problem to finish third in his No. 30 Honda. It was Sato’s second top three finish in the last three years at Indy. He has four top eight finishes in his last five starts on the season.
Two Penske drivers rounded out the top five with Josef Newgarden bringing his No. 2 Chevrolet home fourth for his fourth top eight in the last five Indy 500’s to go along with five top four finishes in six tries this season. Will Power rebounded from a pit road penalty near the midway mark to bring his No. 12 Chevrolet home fifth. It was Power’s fifth top 10 result in his last six Indy 500 tries.
The race only had four cautions all day, the first coming for Colton Herta stalling on track early on for a mechanical problem. The second caution came when Kyle Kaiser crashed in Turn 4 on Lap 34. The final caution came in a five car pileup in Turn 3 when Sebastien Bourdais cut off Graham Rahal entering the corner, which caused both to get wild in the apex. Bourdais and Rahal crashed together while Felix Rosenqvist, Zach Vecah and Charlie Kimball crashed. A red flag was be displayed for a clean up before a final 13 lap shootout to the finish.
Scott Dixon collected some damage in that and finished 17th.
Here are my main takeaways.
Penske Steals 50th Anniversary Show
Penske knew they had something for the month. See, while everyone was busy honoring Mario Andretti’s 50th Anniversary of his Indy 500 win in 1969, Penske was busy dominating the month. They had three of their four drivers start in the top eight on Sunday. They had the same three drivers finish in the top five on Sunday too. Combined, they led 144 of 200 Laps.
Helio Castroneves Struggles Again
For the second straight year, Helio Castroneves struggled. Last year, he crashed and finished a career worst 27th. This year, he was hit with an early pit road penalty for spinning James Davison and never got back on the lead lap to finish 18th.
In his pursuit for a fourth ‘500 crown, Castroneves has just two top five finishes in his 10 tries. By comparision, he had six top four finishes including four top two’s in his first nine tries.
Points Leaders Were Strong
Heading into Sunday, Josef Newgarden, Scott Dixon, Alexander Rossi, Simon Pagenaud, Takuma Sato and Will Power were 1-6 in the standings. Five of those six finsihed in the top five on Sunday.
Pagenaud, entered the day fourth but leaves in the lead. He leads Newgarden by just one point as Newgarden finished fourth to Pagenaud first. Rossi, entered the day third and leaves third but is only 22 points back now. Sato, entered fifth and leaves fourth after a third place run. Power, remains sixth but finsihed fifth in the race.
This was a true result for who was strong this season.
Ed Carpenter Racing Struggles Again
ECR looked like the clear cut favorites this month. They had three of the top four starters but they didn’t have anything in the race. Ed Carpenter could only muster a sixth place finish in his No. 20 Chevrolet. It was just his second top 10 finish in the last six years though. He only led seven laps.
Ed Jones and Spencer Pigot could only finish 13th and 14th respectively. Jones, failed to lead with Pigot only leading four laps himself.
Combined, that’s just 11 laps led with one top 10. Definitely not the day most, including me, that I thought that they’ve have.
Chip Ganassi Racing Collected In Late Crash To End A Rough Finish
Scott Dixon entered the day six points down in the standings. He leaves 47 points out. Dixon, never was much of a factor despite not needing many changes to his No. 9 Honda. While he was in the top 10 for a majority of the race, he never made any noise.
But, he was collected in that late Turn 3 crash and had to pit for repairs after the lengthy red flag. He’d only finish 17th after starting a career worst 18th. It was just the second time in the last five years that he didin’t finish in the top eight here.
Felix Rosenqvist came from 29th but only finished 28th after being collected in that same crash. He led six laps overall and was in the top 10 at the time of the accident.
Now, CGR extends their ‘500 winless drought to seven years. That comes immediately after winnig three times in a five year span prior.
Big 3 Continue Streak
Ganassi may not have scored a top 10 on Sunday. Andretti, may have only had one car finish in the top five. But, Penske had three cars in the top five including the winner giving Penske and Andretti to combine six straight Indy 500 wins. Between the “Big 3” they’ve won 17 of the last 21 ‘500’s.
Indy 500 Stats
Pagenaud is the first driver to win in the No. 22 Chevrolet ever for the Indy 500.
The finish was the sixth closest ever.
Pagenaud, is the first pole winner since Helio Castroneves (2009) to win the ‘500 but 21st overall.
This was Chevy’s 11th career Indy 500 win.
Pagenaud is the fifth 35 year old to win the ‘500. Mauri Rose (1941), Bill Vukovich (1954), Mark Donohue (1972) and Danny Sullivan (1985) are the others.
Pagenaud is the fourth Frenchman to win at Indy and first since Gil DeFerran in 2003. The last prior to that was Gaston Chevrolet in 1920. Prior to Chevrolet, it was Jules Goux (1913) and Rene Thomas (1914).
103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 Results
- 22 Pagenaud
- 27 Rossi
- 30 Sato
- 2 Newgarden
- 12 Power
- 20 Carpenter
- 19 Ferrucci R
- 28 Hunter-Reay
- 14 Kanaan
- 25 Daly
- 5 Hinchcliffe
- 33 Davison
- 63 Jones
- 21 Pigot
- 4 Leist
- 39 Mann
- 9 Dixon
- 3 Castoneves -1
- 24 Karam -1
- 48 Hildebrand -1
- 60 Harvey -1
- 77 Servia -1
- 7 Ericsson R -2
- 42 King R -2
- 23 Kimball -4
- 98 Andretti -5
- 15 Rahal OUT
- 10 Rosenqvist R OUT
- 26 Veach OUT
- 18 Bourdais OUT
- 32 Kaiser OUT
- 81 Hanley R OUT
- 88 Herta R OUT