Simon Pagenaud wins the Honda Indy Toronto 2019
Simon Pagenaud overran his competitors last weekend at the Honda Indy Toronto. Graced with a near-perfect car by Team Penske, he led every qualifying session and followed suit during the race by leading every lap, except the one when he pitted. And at the end of the day, he took the checkered flag, winning his 14th career NTT IndyCar Series race. This was his third win of the season, following his success seven weeks prior at the Indianapolis 500.
The 35-year-old Pagenaud has consequently tightened up the IndyCar point championship standings. He now trails leader Josef Newgarden (Team Penske) by a mere 39 points and second place Alexander Rossi (Andretti Autosport) by 35, with six races to go.
“Never count me out. That’s all I can say,” said Pagenaud. “We won the biggest race in the world [Indy 500]. We just won an awesome race. It’s a long championship. You’ve got to build it. It’s going to be a great fight in the end.”
Even if it seemed as easy sailing for the No. 22 Chevrolet driver, Pagenaud felt he had to save fuel in the end laps in order to ward off Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing), the IndyCar series reigning champion. Fortunately, his Penske teammate (and three-time Toronto winner) Will Power brought out the yellow flag on the final lap, so the race had to end under caution. The French driver was able to cross the finish line in the first place.
“I was confident all weekend, I never had a doubt,” said Pagenaud.
The Toronto road course is notorious for the bumpy conditions of its track. This is a temporary circuit, weaved onto city streets, with a 2.89-km, 11-turn configuration. It is known to wreak havoc during its 110 laps lacing through Exhibition Place and on Lakeshore Boulevard.
“What’s really cool about IndyCar is the different tracks,” he added. “Indy, the Speedway, is so different to Indy Toronto, it’s pretty much big opposites. In Toronto, you’re going through streets, you’re braking really hard, you’re sliding. In Indy, you’ve got to be really smooth, going at 240 miles per hour. Here we have the slowest corner on the calendar with the hairpin in Turn 3. That’s the beauty of IndyCar. That’s what I love.”
Pagenaud’s win coincided with Bastille Day, France’s Fête Nationale (National Celebration Day).
“Being able to win for France, after winning Indianapolis, it’s been a special year,” he said. “I’m very proud to fly the French flag here in a cousin country. I might be in Canada but we brought the Bastille Day celebration with us anyway!”
This was Team Penske’s 209th Indy car win. It has won three of the last four races held in Toronto.
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