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NTT INDYCAR Series

Pagenaud Picks up Points Lead at Phoenix

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On the heels of back-to-back runner-up finishes, Simon Pagenaud finds himself in uncharted territory: leading the IndyCar Series standings.

The Team Penske driver had a less than stellar 2015 season, but has come into his own after getting his best result on a short oval at Phoenix.

“This wasn’t my strong suit in the past. That’s my best result on a short oval. It’s not where I’ve been the most comfortable in the past, so now things are changing…It’s a long championship, and I’m trying to be consistent,” Pagenaud said.

After learning he had taken over the lead in the championship points standings, Pagenaud was definitely upbeat.

“It’s according to plan. Everything that didn’t go well last year is going well now, so again, today is definitely [a positive]. I had a lot of help from my guys, but I also had a great race car thanks to the team, so we’ve just got to keep doing exactly that,” Pagenaud added.

Pagenaud and Will Power were the only two Penske drivers to have issue-free runs at Phoenix. Power finished third after missing the season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Juan Pablo Montoya and polesitter Helio Castroneves both suffered right front tire failures early in the 250-lap race but were able to fight back to finish ninth and 11th, respectively.

Pagenaud was aware of his teammates’ tire problems, but ultimately had to keep going as he had been in order to maintain his position.

“I got the information, but there’s not much you can do as a driver, just keep pushing and see what happens. So at the end of the day, you’ve just got to keep doing your job. You have it in the back of your mind when you start getting a vibration and stuff like that, but that’s part of the job,” Pagenaud explained.

The Verizon IndyCar Series returns April 17 for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

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Christopher DeHarde is a native of Luling, Louisiana and has contributed to Motorsport.com, Motorsports Tribune, The New Orleans Advocate and Race22.com. He’s a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in Mass Communication and has been writing about motorsports since 2014. Primarily covering the Verizon IndyCar Series and the Mazda Road to Indy, DeHarde has also covered the FIA World Endurance Championship, Pirelli World Challenge and NASCAR.

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