Simon Pagenaud and the No. 22 Menards Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet team began the 248-lap Verizon IndyCar Series event at Gateway Motorsports Park from the sixth position after qualifying was canceled due to rain shows, starting the field by the INDYCAR rulebook using the driver point standings.
The Frenchman was able to show the strength of his Chevrolet during the second half of a stint, where he was routinely the fastest car on the track. Pagenaud would eventually climb as high a third in the running order.
After fighting an understeer condition, Pagenaud’s race strategist, Kyle Moyer, made a front-wing adjustment on the second pit stop of the day at lap 118, after which the Menards machine began to show even more speed.
While racing with his teammate and eventual race winner, Will Power, Pagenaud bobbled in Turn 1 and lost several positions on the rhythm racetrack. He would drop down to the last car in the running order, but and his pit crew continued to battle all night for a top finish.
Fuel mileage came into the equation after a caution flag at lap 173 that made many crews up and down pit road think about making it from this point on one pit stop. After the race resumed it became evident to most teams that they could not make it that far on fuel and began making their final pit stops as the race neared the end.
Pagenaud looked to be in position to grab a podium finish, but the No. 27 of Alexander Rossi was one car that was able to make it to the end on fuel. This strategy dropped Pagenaud to fourth on the night, but a strong day still for the No. 22 team.
“Hats off to the Menards Chevy crew for phenomenal pit stops all day. Ben (Bretzman), my engineer, last night just went through everything, seven years back. We figured out what I needed from the car. I think I had the best car tonight. Just made a mistake when Will (Power) went by me and I went high in Turn 1 and lost probably six positions. If it wasn’t for that, I think we would have been on the top spot. It was a good race, I really had a lot of fun. Great racing and the strategy at the end made it a lot of fun for everybody.”