DETROIT – Simon Pagenaud took advantage of a series of restarts, making moves each time to thrive in a crash-filled Detroit Grand Prix on Sunday for his first IndyCar victory.
The Frenchman finished 5.6 seconds in front of James Jakes in the second of two races on Belle Isle.
Luckily enough, my reflexes are pretty sharp, Pagenaud said.
The reigning IndyCar Rookie of the Year hadn’t finished better than second in 39 IndyCar and Champ Car races.
Those last two laps were very emotional in the car, but I kept saying, Keep pushing,’ he recalled. When I crossed the finish line, it was a sweet moment.
Jakes, meanwhile, was a little salty that the start-and-stop nature of the race hurt his chances of winning an IndyCar event for the first time.
Whenever we managed to get in a rhythm, the yellow flags kept coming out, Jakes said.
Mike Conway, who won Saturday’s race with just three cautions, finished third.
I couldn’t imagine that coming into this weekend, said Conway, who was tending his dad’s garden in England during last week’s Indianapolis 500. Hopefully, there’s some more races for me.
Conway’s next scheduled race for Dale Coyne Racing is in Toronto, where IndyCar will have its second of three doubleheader weekends this year.
Scott Dixon was fourth, followed by Dario Franchitti and Marco Andretti, who pulled into a tie with Helio Castroneves for the IndyCar points lead.
It’s good to get back up there in the points and we’ll keep marching forward at Texas next weekend, Andretti said.
After racing on a tight, 2.36-mile street course, IndyCar’s next race is on an oval at Texas Motor Speedway.
Pagenaud’s victory for Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports was another one for the lesser-known IndyCar teams.
Six drivers, including three first-time winners, have won seven races this year and none of them are driving for traditionally successful Team Penske or Chip Ganassi Racing.
We never know who is going to be on top of any weekend, said Pagenaud, who was 12th on Saturday and is now fifth in points. It’s great to see what IndyCar has been able to provide, a product that allows every team to be competitive.