EDMONTON, Alberta, Sunday, July 22, 2012 – Finishing races has become a trademark this season for Simon Pagenaud and the Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports team.
Running at the finish of all 10 of the IZOD IndyCar Series races entering Sunday’s Edmonton Indy, the HP team has been a model of consistency. With a car engineered and prepared by a veteran crew, Pagenaud had completed 1,396 laps out of a total of 1,398 laps prior to Sunday’s 75-lap race on the Edmonton City Centre Airport circuit.
That all changed in the final corner of the last lap in Edmonton.
Headed to a 12th-place finish, Pagenaud entered turn 13 on lap 75 expecting to see the checkered flag and his 11th-consecutive finish upon exiting the corner. Instead, as the checkered flags were waving for race-winner Helio Castroneves, Pagenaud radioed to his crew, “I stalled it.”
Unknown at the time by the crew was the fact Pagenaud was hit in the rear of his No. 77 Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports car by Ganassi Racing’s Charlie Kimball. The contact spun Pagenaud’s car and it stalled.
Though he re-fired the car with the help of the Homaltro Safety Team, it was after the checkered flags waved and he was only allowed to drive back to the HP pit stall. He was scored in 20th and with completing 74 of the 75 laps.
For his action, Kimball was assessed a 30-second penalty by INDYCAR officials and finished 19th.
“We we’re hanging in there and still could have scored a 13th place if (Charlie) Kimball wouldn’t have made a stupid move,” Pagenaud said. “He used me to make his corner. I’m very disappointed in that. It’s not very smart.”
Before the last-lap accident, Pagenaud was getting the most out of a car that couldn’t match other cars on the long Edmonton straightaways.
“We were missing a lot of straight-line speed,” said Pagenaud. “We probably had the best car in the infield portion, but it was frustrating because we were losing a lot of ground in the straights. With no yellow flags, we were kind of in a zone. I was having a good time with the car because it was awesome. The guys did a great job setting it up.”
Castroneves’ victory was his second in the 2012 season and his first on the Edmonton City Centre Airport after finishing second three previous times.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Takuma Sato chased Castroneves over the last 22 laps, but finished .8367 seconds behind the winner. It is Sato’s best finish in his IZOD IndyCar Series career.
Team Penske’s Will Power finished third and Ganassi Racing’s Graham Rahal and Bryan Herta Autosport’s Alex Tagliani rounded out the top five.
With no yellow-flag caution periods, the 166.8-mile race was completed in 1 hour, 38 minutes, 50.9294 seconds. There were five lead changes among four drivers, with Castroneves leading the final 22 laps.
With his seventh-place finish, Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay maintains the lead in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship. He leads Castroneves 362 to 339. Power is third, just three points behind Castroneves, with 336. Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon (301) and Andretti Autsport’s James Hinchcliffe (286) round out the top five.
Pagenaud is seventh in the championship with 276, just three behind sixth-place Tony Kanaan.
The next IZOD IndyCar Series event is the August 5th Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio in Lexington, Ohio.