Simon Pagenaud will make his IndyCar series debut this weekend at Barber Motorsports Park, filling in for the injured Ana Beatriz.
At the first restart at the crash-studded season opener at St Petersburg two weeks ago, Beatriz was injured during the first of the controversial double-file restarts when she collided front and back with first Graham Rahal and then Danica Patrick.
As a result Beatriz was subsequently diagnosed with a fractured scaphoid bone (wrist) because of the violent motion of the steering wheel resulting from the impact. "I could feel that my hand was sore and as the race went on it started to bother me more," Beatriz said afterwards. "I was just focused and determined on finishing the race ... I was able to finish the race and I got some good experience under my belt.
"It wasn't until after the race that I realized that something was actually broken. I was pretty upset, but the team and the league have been great. I'm putting a lot of effort in being ready for Long Beach."
"We wanted to put [Beatriz] in the car for this race, but it's more important that she heals properly and has a quick recovery," said team co-owner Dennis Reinbold. "While she recovers we are happy that Simon can fill in for her this weekend."
After it was confirmed that she would not be fit enough to take the start at this week's Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing decided to offer the seat in the #24 to reigning American Le Mans Series champion and former Champ Car driver Simon Pagenaud.
"I'm fortunate to have the opportunity to drive [Beatriz'] #24 IndyCar this weekend," Pagenaud said. "It's an awkward situation and not the best for a driver to race in circumstances like this, but I wish her the best and hope she has a very quick recovery."
The 26-year-old Frenchman competed in Champ Car in 2007 alongside Will Power in Derrick Walker's Team Australia team, before switching to ALMS in 2008 with de Ferran Motorsports for two years. He then switched to the Patrón Highcroft team to win the LMP1 title in 2010 with co-driver David Brabham: Pagenaud, Brabham and Marino Franchitti finished second in the 12 Hours of Sebring three weeks ago in Highcroft's Honda Performance Development ARX-01e entry.