3 June 2013
IndyCar triumph at last for Pagenaud in Detroit
Schmidt-Hamilton's Simon Pagenaud finally made it to victory lane in the IZOD IndyCar Series with a hard-fought and impressive run in the second Detroit double-header.
Ever since he made his IZOD IndyCar Series debut at short notice subbing for an injured Ana Beatriz in Alabama at Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, it was clear that sportscar star Simon Pagenaud was simply too good at this not to make it into victory lane sooner or later - the only question was when. Now we have the answer: after three podium finishes in 2012, the Frenchman went one better and claimed the top step for himself in Detroit in the second race of the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans.
Polesitter and race 1 winner Mike Conway had led the field to the green flag four round 2 at Detroit, but this time he was the victim rather than the beneficiary of an immediate pass for the lead as Will Power immediately took point. And then, just like the first race 24 hours earlier, the yellows were out - and the cause was once again for AJ Allmendinger crashing out, the 2.34-mile, 13-turn Belle Isle street circuit not being at all kind to the NASCAR transferee this weekend.
"It was just a huge mistake by me again," said a clearly disappointed Allmendinger. "Start of the race, trying to be aggressive, not kind of get sucked into everything and just made a mistake again. I don't know what to say, I apologize to Roger.
"It's embarrassing, honestly. It's embarrassing for me. Roger deserves better than that," he went on. "I don't know where I go from here. I'm heartbroken, I don't even know what to say anymore."
Conway immediately reclaimed the lead from Power at the restart on lap 5, with Simon Pagenaud and Ryan Hunter-Reay in pursuit and James Jakes in fifth recovering from a problematic initial start on the front row alongside Conway. There was only time for four green flag laps before Simona de Silvestro ended up sliding into the unprotected concrete wall at turn 8 with a suspected brake issue on the #78 KV Racing car resulting in heavy damage to the front right of the car, but fortunately not to the driver.
"I'm alright," she said. "It was definitely hard because there were no tyres there, not really sure what happened. I went to turn a corner and it just wouldn't turn, and we hit into the wall straight ahead. The tyre just locked up into the turn and it wouldn't turn, and we just kind of went into the wall.
"It was frustrating because I think we were moving forward, we had an okay car," she said. "It's really frustrating because we're not quite sure what happened. It was the beginning of the race, so it's really annoying when you're out so early."
A number of cars ditched their planned race strategy to pit, among them Dario Franchitti, Tony Kanaan, Tristan Vautier, Takuma Sato, Marco Andretti, Graham Rahal, Josef Newgarden and Sebastien Bourdais who duly restarted at the back of the pack when the track went green again on lap 13 and which saw Alex Tagliani end up in the tricky run-off at turn 3 in another replay of the previous day's events, causing a rapid return to yellow. This time, however, he got a helping punt from Ed Carpenter in the process who needed a new nosecone.
It was a short caution with the green out again on lap 15: EJ Viso suffered front wing damage in the restart melee, but it was a more serious matter for his Andretti Autosport team mate Ryan Hunter-Reay who clipped the wall at turn 8 at the same spot that had done for de Silvestro, and he had to limp the damaged #1 home to pit lane - fortunately without requiring a full course caution in the process.
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