Despite having to start deep in the field for Sunday's IndyCar Series season opener on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Simon Pagenaud and the No. 22 Menards Dallara/Chevrolet team fought hard all day and improved from 13th to seventh as the checkered flag waved on the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Pagenaud ran into problems during qualifying on Saturday afternoon as his session was plagued by red flags and the French driver was never able to turn a lap at full speed, which relegated him to a 13th-place starting position. As the race began, Pagenaud was able to improve to the 11th position before the first round of pit stops.
Great work on pit lane by the Menards crew and solid calls by race strategist Kyle Moyer allowed Pagenaud to continue to push his way through the field as he improved to the eighth position by the midpoint of the race. While the field ran under green flag conditions through most of the the second half of the race, Pagenaud continued to push and picked up an additional position to finish the event in seventh place.
"I had a fantastic time out there – the Menards Chevy was phenomenal today. It was really unfortunate we didn't have an opportunity to put a lap down in qualifying yesterday, which put us way back on the starting grid. Being able to come up through the field with this high level of competition was pretty amazing. The No. 22 crew was on it today making great calls and executing fast pit stops. We're off to a great start for 2019."