By golfing’s definition, Simon Pagenaud is a grinder.
On the PGA Tour, a grinder is a golfer who never gives up on a hole. If a tee shot misses the fairway or lands in a bunker, a grinder is going to find a way to make par, or even better, a birdie. You’ll often hear a golfer say after a round, “I really had to grind my way around the course today.”
The defining characteristic of a grinder is determination. Grinders never give up!
In racing, Simon Pagenaud is a grinder. He never gives up. Despite whatever happens in a race, the Frenchman is always there at the finish and usually in the hunt.
In his 30 major open wheel starts spread out through Champ Car and the IZOD IndyCar Series, Pagenaud has been running at the finish 28 times and usually on the lead lap. He would have had a perfect finishing record this year entering Baltimore had Charlie Kimball not spun him in the last corner on the last lap in Edmonton.
In 2012 alone, he has completed 1,640 of the 1,643 laps of competition in the IndyCar series. That’s grinding it out lap after lap, race after race.
When a good golfer keeps grinding, he regularly puts himself in position to win.
Pagenaud’s grinding has paid off. He clinched the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series Sunoco Racing Fuels Rookie of the Year award at Sonoma last week and has moved back up to fifth in the championship. Along the way, he has amassed eight top-10 finishes including three appearances on the podium.
There is no other type of circuit on the IZOD IndyCar Series’ schedule that awards grinding more than street courses. It’s cage fighting and roller derby combined. On a street course, a driver is going to get knocked down or punched, figuratively. But the grinder will get back up, and keep racing.
It should be no surprise that Pagenaud loves street course racing. His best finish this year in the No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports car came on the streets of Long Beach, Calif.
His podium finishes have only made him more determined to win his first IndyCar race. He is ready to do whatever it takes to see the checkered flags first, and if he has to grind his way around the streets of Baltimore, he will.
Grinders never give up.
Driver: Simon Pagenaud (5th)
Hometown: Montmorillon, France
Car: No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Dallara/Honda/Firestone
Event: Grand Prix of Baltimore
Date: Sunday, Sept. 2, 2012
Series: Round 14 of 15 in the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series
SIMON PAGENAUD (Montmorillon, France)
Baltimore was a big success last year and had the paddock abuzz all weekend. What are your thoughts as you head to Baltimore for the first time? “First, I love street circuits so I’m really excited about the opportunity to race in Baltimore. I saw the videos from last year, and it was a very exciting race track. It will be hardcore racing and should be fun. It seems to be a Long Beach No. 2 with its big crowds and atmosphere. It’s always great for us (drivers) because it makes us feel like gladiators when we race in front of so many people on a street circuit. I’m really excited about the event. It’s also the last street course of the year, so I hope to get on the top step of the podium there.”
It’s a short week between Sonoma and Baltimore. You’ll only be home two days before you fly out. What will you do in a short week like this? “I’ll definitely analyze what happened in Sonoma with my guys. I’ll replay the race in my head and try to understand how to produce a better result the next time in the car. Basically, I’ll refocus. I’ve actually stepped up my training late in the season, so I’ll also do some cycling and other training. And, I’ll do a lot of sleeping.”
SSM Baltimore Notes
*The Grand Prix of Baltimore will be Simon Pagenaud’s 31st start in a major open-wheel race. He has 16 IZOD IndyCar starts and 14 Champ Car races under his belt.
*In his 30 major open-wheel races, Pagenaud has finished all but two races and usually finishes on the lead lap.
*Pagenaud has been running at the finish in 12 of the 13 races in 2012.
*So far in 2012, there have been 1,643 laps of competition. Pagenaud, along with Penske Racing’s Helio Castroneves, has completed all but three laps. The pair has completed 1,640 laps to date, which is the most of all IZOD Indy Car Series drivers this year.
*A second-place spot on the podium in Long Beach is Pagenaud’s best finish of the season. He also finished on the podium in Detroit (3rd) and Mid-Ohio (3rd).
*Pagenaud clinched the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series Sunoco Racing Fuels Rookie of the Year title in Sonoma.
*Entering Baltimore, Pagenaud has eight Top-10 finishes, including five Top-5 finishes.
*With the 23 laps he led in Toronto, Pagenaud has led in two races for a total of 49 laps in 2012.
*Pagenaud enters the Grand Prix of Baltimore fifth in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship and is still mathematically in the race for the championship. The Top 5 in points are Will Power (422), Ryan Hunter-Reay (386), Helio Castroneves (381), Scott Dixon (368), and Pagenaud (337).
*The Grand Prix of Baltimore will be the 73rd time a Sam Schmidt-owned car has lined up on an IZOD IndyCar Series grid. Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports co-owner Davey Hamilton was in the cockpit of the No. 99 car when SSM made its first race in March 2001 at Phoenix International Raceway.
The Grand Prix of Baltimore, a 75-lap race around the 12-turn, 2.31-mile Baltimore street circuit, will air live on NBC Sports Network, Sunday, Sept. 2 at 12:30 p.m. ET. The race will also be live on the IMS Radio Network and on XM 94/Sirius 212. Qualifications will be televised on Saturday, Sept. 1, at 6 p.m. ET, on the NBC Sports Network.
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