It was a tough day for 2019 Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud and the No. 22 Menards Dallara/Chevrolet team, as an off-sequence pit strategy and front wing damage during the second half of the race led to a 22nd-place finish in the 2020 Indianapolis 500.
Starting in the 25th position, Pagenaud was able to work his way toward the front after a well-timed pit stop, which put him on a different strategy as the leaders, allowed him to take the lead on lap 33. He would end up leading a total of 14 laps on the day.
Pagenaud continued to find himself near the front and near mid-pack as he ran a different pit strategy. It looked as it might pay off, until getting caught a lap down just past halfway. In the second half of the race, contact with Ryan Hunter-Reay forced Pagenaud's strategist Kyle Moyer to call the Frenchman to the pits on lap 135 for a wing change due to damage that occurred from the incident.
Unfortunately the wing change did not improve his Chevrolet's handling as Pagenaud said the car was loose. He pitted again for fuel, tires and a front wing adjustment on lap 144 and would go two laps down.
As more pit stops followed, Pagenaud's Chevrolet improved and became stronger toward the end, but he could never take advantage of any cautions to make up the lost laps. He would go on to finish 22nd.
“It was a real shame to start as far back as I did. I really do think that Chevy brought an incredible race engine. It had so much power. It was so good. So, I think if we started further up, we would not have lost as much time in traffic. I feel like we had one of the best cars. Congratulations to (Takuma) Sato. He’s an incredible driver around this place. It’s fantastic. I think he’s the most successful Japanese driver ever, so congratulations to him and the Rahal team. We were just on the outside of Ryan Hunter-Reay and he just hit us in the front wing like we weren’t there. So, we had to pit for a new front wing, and it went downhill from there. At the end of the race, we were running, I think, is the fastest laps of the race. The car was really, really good and it would have been good for the last shootout, but it wasn’t our year. We’ll come back next year, and we’ll be strong. We have a good baseline to attack for next year, and we’ll come back to try and get No. 2.”