Simon Pagenaud has needed the breaks this season in the NTT IndyCar Series. After a grueling Month of May that saw him sweep both races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the media tour and sponsorship engagements naturally went up. After his Indy 500 win, Pagenaud was up at the crack of dawn on Memorial Day for the winner’s photo shoot. Then, it was a winner’s press conference – again. Then, it was to a jet to go across the country on a media tour. Then, it was to Belle Isle for not one, but two races in as many days. But, the catch during that weekend in Detroit was, it was a race put on by Penske. He’s a Penske driver who just won the Indy 500. He had to do a ton of sponsor appearances.
After Belle Isle was more media tours, then a race down at the Texas Motor Speedway in 90+ degree heat. A long and grueling stretch. Pagenaud, was worn down. He needed a break. One was soon coming. He’d get a week off before Road America then two weeks off after that. The two weeks is what he needed to refocus and recharge.
Simon Pagenaud celebrates after winning the Honda Indy Toronto in July
After the break, Pagenaud stormed to a perfect weekend in Toronto. He was quickest in practice on Friday, quickest in practice on Saturday, won the pole for the race and led 80 of 85 laps en route to his first win since Indy. He later admitted to being worn out and that the break was just what he needed for a championship charge.
That started a three week stretch though. Pagenaud, would finish fourth at Iowa and sixth in Mid-Ohio. His car got tougher and tougher to handle as the weeks went on. Now, he got another two week break before this weekend’s race at Pocono.
We’ve seen what he can do after breaks.
A break between Long Beach and Indy and he won. A week of practice/qualifying for the ‘500 then the ‘500 itself a week later – he’d win. Two weeks between Road America and Toronto and he yet again won. Two weeks between Mid-Ohio and Pocono…another win?
This could be exactly what he needed to get back into the championship hunt again. Pagenaud, has a top eight finish in five of his six career starts at Pocono. He won on a superspeedway already this season. He heads to the Tricky Triangle with five straight top 10’s on the season in his No. 22 Chevrolet including 10 of the last 11 overall.
Then, it’s to Gateway next week, a place where he’s excelled too. He finished third in 2017 and fourth last year.
After that, it’s to Portland where he was sixth last year. Then it’s another two week break before the season finale.
“During the break, INDYCAR and BorgWarner organized an amazing media tour in France,” Pagenaud said ahead of this weekend’s race. “I had the honor of taking the Borg-Warner Trophy home to France to share my experience winning the Indy 500. In Paris, the interest from the media was just tremendous. We started the week with a visit to the French office of our partner DXC Technology, and it was wonderful to meet so many great people there. From there, we went to Poitiers and then Montmorillon, my hometown, where the city organized an incredible celebration full of people starring the Borg-Warner Trophy. I must say I was really impressed to see the excitement and interest around INDYCAR in France, and it’s great to be in this era of the sport. Now, we’re off to race at Pocono. I’m very excited to be back competing. I love this time of the year because ‘it’s crunch time’ so it’s time to go for it with four races remaining.”