The 2019 winner after kicking off from first place, Simon Penske will be forced, like last year, to play the Hunters during the 105th edition of Indianapolis 500, which was forced to launch from the back of the grid on Sunday, hoping to make these times feast.
Due to a lack of speed during last weekend’s qualifiers, his single-seat Chevrolet powered single-seat sedan could not do better than No.26 sooner, away from New Zealander Scott Dickson (Chip Jagnassi), who will start at the top of the first row. To add a second coronation to his list after 2008.
Last August, in the closed session imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, Pagenaud finally finished 22nd in the race after starting at 25th, without being able to perform miracles in the face of the dominance of Honda engines.
Having around 135,000 spectators around the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s oval, definitely far from the usual 400,000 spectators, would it allow him to overtake himself and especially to overtake the 25 cars ahead in his planned 200 laps?
“Winning is clearly my first goal, and I’m not hiding it,” he said this week. “Second place and everyone who follows it bitter. We have the team to do that.”
– ‘Be smart and aggressive’ –
“We found this car that we had during the first tests, and we will have a new engine for the race that has already been planned,” he added. The first tests were indeed promising, but the extreme lack of speed prevented him from hoping to participate in “Fast 9,” the second qualifying session dedicated to the fastest of the nine cars.
If he does not hide his “big disappointment,” Poitevin, two years ago, became the fourth French driver in history to win the event, following Jules Goux in 1913, René Thomas in 1914 and Edouard Chevrolet in 1920, yet still confident.
“In the racing configuration, our car is definitely the fastest, he says. So you have to be smart and aggressive to go back little by little and feel like I can do it.”
On Sunday, it will start against the other French competitor, Sebastien Bordet, who has regained the wheel throughout the year in AJ Foyt and who finished seventh in 2014 as the best ranking in “Indy”.
To start at 27th, “It wasn’t exactly what we wanted”, he reacted, admitting, “After the tests, we lowered our hopes.”
That for Dickson, eight higher, is pretty high. The IndyCar Championship leader, in search of the seventh crown, made 500 miles his “first goal” and his predominance in the qualifiers had enough to reinforce that ambition.
The 40-year-old New Zealand driver will start ahead of American Colton Hertha (Andretti Autosport) and Dutchman Rinus Fikkai (Ed Carpenter Racing) in the first row.
They both embody the ambitious succession that competes with him this season, since the first, 21, he won the St. Petersburg in Florida and second, 20, he won the Indianapolis Grand Prix on the adjacent Grand Oval.
Like Pato Oward (Arrow McLaren), who completed 22 years old on May 6 but will start from 12th, they could erase Troy Rotman, the youngest winner of the event at 22 years and 80 days in 1952.
But seasoned pilots won’t be fooled, like two former Brazilian winners, Tony Canaan (2013) and Helio Castronivis (2001, 2002, 2009), the 46-year-old, who will start from fifth and eighth.
“It’s weird (thinking) that the guy in front of me was wearing diapers when I started my first Indy 500,” VeeKay’s 1st joke.
“Age is just a number, we can definitely manage it.” To impose ourselves, declared the second more sober, who can join AJ Foyt (1961, 1964, 1967, 1977), Al Unser (1970-71, 1978, 1987) and Rick Mears (1979). , 1984, 1988, 1991) are among the only quartet winners.