By Josh Farmer, IndyCar Reporter
Simon Pagenaud claimed his third straight win of the season in today’s Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis.
From the start of the race, Pagenaud was the man to beat as he pulled away from Charlie Kimball at the drop of the green flag and pulled away by as high as four and a half seconds over the course of the first stint. Pagenaud made his first pitstop on lap 12 which handed the lead over to Kimball, who pitted on lap 23. Kimball briefly held the lead but Pagenaud had tires that were up to temperature and passed Kimball in 7 on lap 26 after Kimball to move into second place while Graham Rahal waited to make his pitstop.
Pagenaud pulled away during the second stint while Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves. Just before green flag pitstops were about to take place, Sebastien Bourdais stalled on lap 38 which brought out the yellow flag. The caution forced the leaders to pit under yellow while Helio Castroneves and Conor Daly stayed out having just made their pitstops just before the yellow flag.
Daly used a push to pass to pass Castroneves and take the lead going into turn one. Within a few laps, Daly distanced himself from the field and set laps that were consistently quicker than his Penske rivals and stretched his lead out to over three seconds. As the laps wore on, Daly began to give up a bit of time and finally made his pitstop on lap 60. The Dale Coyne Racing crew performed a perfect pit stop while Daly solidly resumed his position in the middle of the pack.
Pagenaud, on the other hand, managed to stay out a few extra laps which allowed the #22 Team Penske pit crew to perform an even quicker pitstop which allowed Pagenaud to stay in front of the field. It became a race for second place as Castroneves moved into second place, but was too far back to challenge Pagenaud for the lead.
When we were in the lead, we were cruising, doing what we could to save the tires, but the car was just fantastic to drive,” Pagenaud said. “Charlie (Kimball) had a really good pit stop on the first one. I managed to get him on the outside on Turn 7. It was very difficult on cold tires, so you could really make some ground on the pit sequence.
“After the first one, I realized it was something to do with it. I let (Race Strategist) Kyle (Moyer) know. He already knew, but that’s what we did the next two pit stops. We did the opposite and it worked. Thanks to my guys. Obviously, we had great last pit stops, too. Drove (it) like a rally car into pit lane and that was it.”
Pagenaud became the first driver since Scott Dixon in 2013 to win three races in a row and now has a massive 76 points lead over Dixon heading into Indianapolis 500 qualifying.
Castroneves claimed his third podium of the season while James Hinchcliffe solidly ran inside the top five for much of the day to claim his first podium since returning to IndyCar after his ferocious crash at IMS a year ago.
Graham Rahal once again drove through the field after starting 24th to finish in fourth place while Charlie Kimball rounded out the top five. Daly lost a few spots on the final stint and ended up finishing in sixth place.
Image: Matthew Bishop/Tribute Racing