AUSTIN, TX – It took some time for the veteran drivers of the series to figure out the new car that debuted in the NTT IndyCar Series in 2018. Now, with a full season under their belts, it’s quite possible with how the 2018 season ended, that 2019 will look a lot like those final few races.
See, this was a completely new car to drive. Braking points, speeds, etc were all new. When the drivers adjusted, they really adjusted.
That’s why I have my eye on two French drivers in the series for 2019. How both Simon Pagenaud and Sebastien Bourdais closed out 2018 bodes well for them in 2019.
For the second consecutive season, Sebastien Bourdais won the season opener at St. Pete. Unfortunately for him, he struggled after. In the next seven races, the Dale Coyne Racing driver had five finishes of 13th or worse. In fact, from the second race through the 12th race of the season, Bourdais had seven finishes overall of 13th or worse.
From that point on though, he had figured it out. Over the final five races to the 2018 season, Bourdais had four top six efforts in his No. 18 Honda. He was on top of his game again.
This year, Bourdais wants to be a “closer” not “entertainer” like he was in those crazy passes he made on track in 2018.
Same goes for Pagenaud.
It took him nine races for Pagenaud to get his first top five result. By comparison, he had eight top five finishes in the first 10 races to start 2017 off with.
But, once Pagenaud got the hang of the setups, he shined. From Texas on, he finished no worse than eighth. He closed the year out with three straight top six results in his No. 22 Chevrolet.
Overall, Pagenaud had 10 straight top 10 efforts to close out the year and 13 in the final 14 races.
These results should translate well over to 2019. The only thing needed now is lady luck to be on their sides.