Photo credit: Ashley McCubbin / OnPitRoad.com
By Tyson Lautenschlager
July 17, 2016
Simon Pagenaud goes into the Honda Indy Toronto with a 73-point advantage over Josef Newgarden. However, with Scott Dixon on pole position for the race and fourth in points, it’s Dixon he’s concerned about.
“Dixon’s on pole position, we’re third, so at this point, it’s game on,” Pagenaud told OnPitRoad.com after Sunday morning warmup. “We should probably look at what he’s doing in the race strategy, and maybe mirror that. If he gets caught by a yellow, then we’ll get caught by a yellow, and we don’t lose too many points. In terms of performance and rivalry, we just have to get going and pick up points.”
Pagenaud wound up 14th in the morning warmup after nosing his car into the turn eight tire barriers halfway through the session. Pagenaud had minimal damage, and was able to continue in the session. Despite being on the second half of the speed charts in the warmup, the Frenchman will start inside the top-five of the grid.
“If I wasn’t trying, you guys would be asking me why I’m not trying,” he said. “So, when you go into warmup, you of course want to take some risks in some corners. We had a balance that we we’re trying the red tires, and there was a lot of degradation. We realized that we need to make some adjustments.
“I was just pushing it to see where the tires could take it, and I got my answer. It’s really good actually because we get to make a few changes now, and get back to the race with a chance of winning.”
One of the exciting things about racing in Toronto is the potential for different pit strategies as teams will be deciding between two-stop and three-stop strategies. Being the point leader, Pagenaud finds himself on the defensive side of the championship hunt. He plans to race the drivers in the championship hunt, rather than race others on differing pit strategies.
“You have to decide before the race what your strategy’s going to be because you have to run those red tires once,” he explained. “You can decide whether to run it at the beginning, or at the end – that’s the question. There’s different strategies that could play out. We’re probably going to be on the standard situation for the race because we’re in the title hunt, and we want to fight against our competitors, not someone who might be lucky with a yellow.”
Check out my other exclusive content from the Honda Indy race weekend including an additional interview with eventual 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series champion, Simon Pagenaud, below.