Simon Pagenaud got a monkey off his back with his first IZOD IndyCar Series victory at the Indy Dual in Detroit last weekend, but he and his teammate Tristan Vautier are heading into the Wild Asphalt Circus “under the big top” at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend where they are sure to encounter racing that is not for the squeamish or faint of heart under the bright lights of the superspeedway.
Less than a week after his victory, Pagenaud and the Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports team have shifted their focus from celebration to determination.
“You’ve got to come back to reality after a win quickly in the IZOD IndyCar Series because the schedule moves quickly and we’re focusing on Texas now,” Pagenaud said. “It’s nice to be a winner but we’re looking forward and want to get back to victory circle again.”
Pagenaud attributes rising to the top of the three-ring circus of world-class drivers in the IZOD IndyCar Series to his stellar relationship with his engineers. Just as with any ringmaster and performer, the SHM engineers and Pagenaud work extremely closely to extract the best out of their Honda-powered chariot.
“I know my engineers are going to give me a good car, and they know I’m going to do a good job on the track,” Pagenaud said. “Getting our first win together is a big step forward for us, and now we believe it can happen again.”
As Pagenaud prepares to try his hand at the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway, he is looking forward to negotiating the delicate balance needed to keep a fast car on the tightrope for the 550-mile race.
“Our team is good at thinking forward and anticipating what I’ll need to have a good car at the end of a race,” Pagenaud said. “I love the aspect of racing where you have to go into great detail and be smart about any change you make to your car in the race.”
Pagenaud’s teammate, IZOD IndyCar Series rookie Tristan Vautier, will have the added challenge of being relatively new to night racing. The 23-year-old will navigate the No. 55 coastal.com/Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Dallara/Honda/Firestone car through the Wild Asphalt Circus hoping to avoid trouble like a skilled lion tamer.
“I think the hardest thing is being able to see the track well enough when the sun goes down because it blinds you,” Vautier said. “After that, one of the biggest adjustments is driving a car with changed balance because cars don’t react the same way in the daylight as they do at night.”
Pagenaud and Vautier qualify for the Firestone 550 at Texas Motor Speedway’s Wild Asphalt Circus on Friday, June 6 at 3:30 p.m. CT. The green flag drops on the Firestone 550 on Saturday, June 8 at 7:45 p.m. CT and will be broadcast live on ABC. For the latest team updates, follow @SPMIndyCar on Twitter.