Pagenaud Completes Weekend Of Upsets
“It was fun; lots of fun actually,” Conway said. “It didn’t fall our way with the yellows but on each restart we tried to gap the field. We had a tire start to go down and we lost positions but as soon as I got the Firestone Blacks on I pushed as hard as I could. I passed like six guys in one lap. The car was so hooked up. I pushed all the way to the end and didn’t have enough for James at the end. It was a great job by all the guys and it was a mega-results. I can’t thank Dale Coyne enough for this weekend. To get first and third is something for this weekend.
“Hopefully there are some more races for me at Toronto. Dale said Toronto is definitely on the card. Another double-header and I can’t wait for that especially with the standing starts.”
As for Honda, the engine manufacturer was confident one of its drivers would win the 97th Indianapolis 500 last week but its teams struggled with one issue or another. Chevrolet swept the top four positions at the Indy 500 last week with Justin’s Wilson’s fifth-place finish the highest of any Honda driver.
But with Honda taking three of the top-five positions on Saturday and a sweep of the top five on Sunday in Chevrolet sponsored races in the shadows of the General Motors World Headquarters, Honda exacted a heavy dose of revenge.
“Two wins, two poles and a podium sweep in today’s race – after yesterday’s win by Mike [Conway] – to think we could do it again today in such emphatic style is unbelievable,” said Roger Griffiths, Technical Director, Honda Performance Development. “I’m so pleased to be here and see Simon [Pagenaud] get his first win, and the fantastic results for [second place] James [Jakes] and [third place] Mike as well. It’s a fitting tribute to all the hard work everyone at HPD has put forth since Indy.”
Pagenaud has been a loyal Honda driver since he joined Schmidt Peterson Hamilton HP Racing last year and was happy to deliver with a big win in Chevrolet’s hometown.
“Honda is famous for making great race engines and that is what they did at the Indy 500 and came back strong with Justin Wilson fifth and I was eighth so they understood how the engine was better at Indy and it worked in Detroit,” Pagenaud said. “It’s very nice to win here in General Motors City but it was great that Chevrolet promoted this race. But I’m very happy for Honda to be able to come here and win the race.”
While Saturday’s race was a Conway runaway, the Sunday portion of IndyCar’s first true doubleheader was a crash fest. A.J. Allmendinger crashed without completing a lap for the second day in a row. His Team Penske crew worked until 11 p.m. Saturday night to repair the damage the Dallara/Chevrolet incurred in the first crash and were back to work by 6:45 a.m. Sunday to make sure the car was ready for the 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time start. But Allmendinger pounded the wall coming around for the start and he failed to complete a single lap in either race of the weekend.
“I wrecked,” Allmendinger said. “Of course it’s a downer it was my own screw up. It’s all my fault. Yesterday I was trying to play defense and not pressure Helio Castroneves because he is in the championship. I got put three-wide in the middle and made a mistake. Today, I decided to be on the offensive and hit the push to pass and it jumped out of under me in Turn 2 and it wrecked.
Simona de Silvestro crashed on Lap 8 and Takuma Sato on lap 23 before a major pileup on a restart in turn one involving Sebastien Bourdais, Will Power, Justin Wilson, Ed Carpenter, Helio Castroneves, Ryan Briscoe, E.J. Viso, Graham Rahal, James Hinchcliffe and Alex Tagliani. The incident sent Power’s temper flaring. He was visibly upset with Bourdais, waited for the Frenchman to come back around, shook his fist at the driver and then tossed his gloves at him.
“He went from a champ to a chump,” Power said of Bourdais. “I got taken out – I think that was pretty obvious. Bourdais got in the back of me and I got pounded by a bunch of other cars. Disappointing. We had the speed and getting mega-restarts. I’m just really disappointed. The safety workers were getting aggressive with me and I wanted to show the Frenchman I was disappointed with him. So I leisurely threw my gloves at him. Double-file restarts you have nowhere to go and Bourdais KOed me.
“I think they need to rethink these double-file restarts. They are tough on these open-wheel cars.”