Newgarden, Pagenaud find confidence in areas beyond outright pace

Team Penske drivers Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud say they’re expecting operational strength of Penske to overcome any Chevrolet deficit that may transpire on raceday at the Indy 500.

Newgarden, Pagenaud find confidence in areas beyond outright pace
Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske Chevrolet
Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske Chevrolet
Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet
Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske Chevrolet
Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske Chevrolet
Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet
Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet
Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet
Tim Cindric, Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet
Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske Chevrolet
Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske Chevrolet

The squad’s newest driving recruit Newgarden and reigning IndyCar Series champion Pagenaud have qualified only 22nd and 23rd for Sunday’s race, but are expecting to make swift forward progress.

“Qualifying and the race are so different,” said Newgarden, “so where it looked like we were in qualifying doesn’t tell you the full story and doesn’t really tell you how we’re going to be in the race.

“I definitely think we’ll be much stronger on race day, I think we’ll be better at outlasting everyone and as far as strategy, toughness, relentlessness is concerned, I think we’ll be better than most. Penske, through the years, has been strong at making it to the finish in the fastest “For me, it’s the usual case of knowing when to be patient, when we need to be aggressive. I’m excited. It’ll be fun to get going.

Newgarden, who qualified second and finished third last year, said he was pleased having data exchange with four teammates for the first time in his six attempts at Indy.

“It’s great having a lot of good teammates, I’ve been able to ask them a lot of questions,” he said. “When I’m good I help them; when they’re good, they help me. That’s what we do at Team Penske, and there’s been no shortage of information to share.

“That’s been nice. Picking the brain of Helio [Castroneves], Juan [Montoya], and Will [Power] and Simon is always a good thing.”

Although some Chevrolet drivers have expressed concerns over their ability to match Honda-powered rivals, Newgarden was keen to stress the Bowtie units other strengths.

“I think Chevy has a lot of good qualities,” he remarked. “We have good reliability, good consistency from our performance; we’re very confident in what they bring us. We have a great working environment with them and that hasn’t changed. The relationship I’ve had with Chevrolet from Day 1 [at CFH Racing in 2015] has been very stout. So we have a lot of positives.

“That doesn’t mean Honda’s not going to be tough. They will be; their performance level is good. But it’s a long race, you’ve got to be there at the end, and you’ve got to get good fuel economy. So we should be able to execute on a couple of different levels.”

Pagenaud stresses teamwork

Pagenaud, also in his sixth Indy 500 but his third with Team Penske, said that he believed the strengths of Roger Penske’s operation would help overcome Chevrolet’s perceived deficit to its rival manufacturer.

“We don’t have the outright speed of the Hondas,” said Pagenaud, “but we have a really good racecar, a really good crew which is good because pitstops are so important, a strategist [Kyle Moyer] who has been awesome all year long, and my race engineer [Ben Bretzman] has been really good at making adjustments. So I think I have everything else to win the race.

“Like I say, we don’t have the outright pace, but that’s the nature of competition. I think we can get into the Top 10 really quickly, and we saw that on Monday practice. It felt like we had a really good car, we went through the pack quickly and I felt comfortable, so that was a good sign. So I feel like we can at least be fighting for a top five.”

Pagenaud, who has appeared to have the fastest of the Penske fleet for the past two seasons, said that he and Bretzman had had less work to do on the handling of their car this year – especially given the freezing of aerokit regulations for 2017 – and were instead investigating aerodynamic configurations for much of practice.

“I certainly had less to do this year,” he grinned. “The car’s pretty much the same as the last two years. We’ve actually tried a few things and they only made it feel worse, so we got back on track pretty quickly.

“So we’ve just worked on aerodynamics mostly. Every year we learn more about aero and trying to find less drag while keeping the downforce on the car. But the mechanical setup hasn’t changed at all. So I feel comfortable that I know exactly how my racecar stands, so that gives me confidence.”

shares
comments
Defending Indy 500 winner Rossi feeling no pressure to repeat
Previous article

Defending Indy 500 winner Rossi feeling no pressure to repeat

Next article

Hinchcliffe can't explain where SPM's pace has gone: "It's a mystery"

Hinchcliffe can't explain where SPM's pace has gone: "It's a mystery"
Load comments
Ranking the top 10 IndyCar drivers of 2021 Prime

Ranking the top 10 IndyCar drivers of 2021

In an enthralling 2021 IndyCar campaign, the series bounced back from its COVID-19 truncated year prior and series sophomore Alex Palou defeated both the established order and his fellow young guns to clinch a maiden title. It capped a remarkable season with plenty of standout performers

IndyCar
Nov 22, 2021
How Marcus Ericsson finally unlocked his potential in IndyCar Prime

How Marcus Ericsson finally unlocked his potential in IndyCar

Marcus Ericsson enjoyed a breakout year in the IndyCar Series in 2021, winning twice and finishing sixth in points with Chip Ganassi Racing. How did he finally unlock the potential that was masked by five years of toil in Formula 1 with Caterham and Sauber/Alfa Romeo?

IndyCar
Nov 16, 2021
Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing win Prime

Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing win

Saturday, Oct. 16th, marks the 10th anniversary Dan Wheldon’s death. David Malsher-Lopez pays tribute, then asks Wheldon’s race engineer from 2011, Todd Malloy, to recall that magical second victory at the Indianapolis 500.

IndyCar
Oct 16, 2021
Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up? Prime

Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up?

Jack Harvey’s move to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing sparked plenty of debate, but their combined strength could prove golden, says David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Oct 15, 2021
Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting Prime

Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting

Kyle Kirkwood, the record-setting junior formula driver, sealed the Indy Lights championship last weekend. But despite an absurdly strong résumé and scholarship money, his next move is far from clear. By David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Oct 6, 2021
2021 IndyCar title is just the start for Ganassi's newest star Prime

2021 IndyCar title is just the start for Ganassi's newest star

Alex Palou has captured Chip Ganassi Racing's 14th IndyCar drivers' championship, and in truly stellar manner. David Malsher-Lopez explains what made the Palou-Ganassi combo so potent so soon.

IndyCar
Sep 28, 2021
Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar Prime

Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar

One of motorsport’s worst-kept secrets now out in the open, and Romain Grosjean has been confirmed as an Andretti Autosport IndyCar driver in 2022. It marks a remarkable turnaround after the abrupt end to his Formula 1 career, and is a firm indication of his commitment to challenge for the IndyCar Series title  

IndyCar
Sep 24, 2021
IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still at fever pitch Prime

IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still at fever pitch

The 2021 IndyCar silly season is one of the silliest of all, but it’s satisfying to see so many talented drivers in play – including Callum Ilott. David Malsher-Lopez reports.

IndyCar
Sep 11, 2021