Simon Pagenaud and the No. 22 Menards Chevrolet brought home a solid finish on Sunday to conclude a challenging 2020 INDYCAR SERIES season.
Pagenaud started Sunday’s race in 12th place, but he slipped back to 16th at the end on lap one. The hot and humid day caused a lack of grip on the track and it affected the handling of the No. 22. Despite the hot conditions, Pagenaud radioed to the team early on that he was happy with the performance of the car.
While several teams opted for a three-stop strategy on Sunday, Pagenaud and the Menards team were able to make up ground by executive a two-stop strategy. Race strategist Kyle Moyer called Pagenaud to pit lane for his final stop of the race on lap 66. Fortunately, the caution flag flew just a couple of laps later which allowed Pagenaud to gain track position while also benefitting from running on new Firestone alternate tires.
A number of caution flags, and attrition from several other competitors exiting the race, shuffled the field and positions multiple times in the second half of the Firestone Grand Prix. Running consistent laps, Pagenaud advanced to eighth place with less than 20 laps to go. The Frenchman ran hard to the finish and gained two more positions to finish his 2020 season in the sixth position.
“That was a good finish for the Menards Chevrolet. It was survival of the fittest out there today. At one point, I said on the radio that there could be many, many more cautions and there was. We just couldn’t get in a race rhythm. But we were able take advantage of all those other people’s mistakes and put ourselves in position to have a good finish. All weekend, the car was really good – I think it was better than even sixth where we finished. But I’m pretty excited to build upon this for next year. All-in-all, good weekend. It was also good to see the fans back at the track. We finished St. Pete, just a few months after the fact.”