The final word, though, has to go to the victorious Will Power, who seemed genuinely surprised to have overcome the ten-place grid penalty for the Chevy engine switch-out, saved fuel obsessively and still had enough left to claim the chequered flag over Pagenaud's spirited drive-of-the-day.
"After last week, you can never say never," he said. "We really didn't think it was possible to win from 12th place here ... It's a great day for the Verizon Team Penske Chevy."
Together with the victory in Alabama, the Long Beach triumph boosts Power into a strong lead of the IZOD IndyCar Series championship, 24pts ahead of his Penske team mate Helio Castroneves who is running neck and neck with Pagenaud and just ahead of Dixon and Hinchcliffe.
The reigning champion? Don't ask. Back in 14th place on less than half the points Power has amassed in the three races so far, 2012 is looking increasingly like it's going to be an annus horribilis
for Dario Franchitti to forget as soon as possible.
And it's starting to look equally grim for Honda at this point. Having been handed an open goal by the mid-week Chevrolet engine swap-out, the Honda stable manifestly failed to perform: Pagenaud's was the only Honda in the top six, and the next highest was Sato in eighth and Wilson in tenth.
After three Penske-Chevrolet victories in three races, at the very least you can predict with a reasonable level of certainty that the 2012 champion is going to be one of those drivers in a car sporting a Chevy 'bow-tie' insignia. But realistically you can narrow that down to a field of one and say that your incoming champion will be sporting an Aussie accent, a highly improbable name, but an indisputable, incomparable driving talent.
Full race results available
Official starting grid
Qualifying times and session details