NEWTON, Iowa, Saturday, June 23, 2012 – “I’ve never started last before!”
In racing, that’s usually not a statement made by an IZOD IndyCar Series driver wearing a big grin. But a wide smile is exactly what Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports driver Simon Pagenaud was wearing when he climbed from his car after finishing fifth in Saturday’s Iowa Corn Indy 250 at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa.
Driving the No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Dallara/Honda/Firestone car, Pagenaud drove a brilliant race after starting 25th and in the last row. He was conservative when needed and aggressive when required.
“When I saw everyone in front of me at the start, I couldn’t believe I was back there,” said Pagenaud. “My thought process starting the race was ‘just move forward.’ It was really difficult at the beginning. We were already a lap down before I got confident with the car. Something just clicked, everything unlocked and we started moving forward.”
After the race, Pagenaud gave a great deal of credit to his team for fixing a car he described as “evil” on Friday. The Frenchman said he also had another motivation that came to him before the start of the race.
“I was sitting in the car before the race and thinking about my girlfriend’s father who passed away this week,” Pagenaud said. “We were very close. He watched every race of mine, and I felt like he was watching me still tonight. I actually thought about him through the race.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay, of Andretti Autosport, won the Iowa Corn Indy 250 Saturday night. It was his second consecutive IZOD IndyCar Series win as he won in Milwaukee last week.
The win is Hunter-Reay’s seventh in his IndyCar career and his first win at Iowa Speedway. It was also Andretti Autosport’s fourth win at Iowa.
Hunter-Reay’s teammate, Marco Andretti, finished in second-place, which is his best finish in 2012. KV Racing’s Tony Kanaan and Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon finished third and fourth, while Pagenaud rounded out the top five.
The race was slowed by six caution flags for a total of 64 yellow-flag laps.
With his back-to-back wins, Hunter-Reay has slashed Power’s lead in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship. Power leads with 286, while Hunter-Reay is three back with 283. Dixon is third with 271, while Castroneves is fourth with 261.
Andretti Autosport’s James Hinchcliffe is fifth with 256, and Pagenaud follows in sixth with 246.
So far in 2012, there have been 1,313 laps of racing in the IZOD IndyCar Series. Pagenaud has completed the most laps of all drivers this year. He and the HP team have completed 1,311 of the 1,313 possible laps of competition to date.
The next IZOD IndyCar Series event is the Honda Indy Toronto on Sunday, July 5-8.
DATE: June 23, 2012
EVENT: Iowa Corn Indy 250
SERIES: IZOD IndyCar Series
LOCATION: Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa (7/8-mile oval)
START/FINISH: 25th/5th (Running, Completed 250 of 250 laps)
WINNER: Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport