Simon Pagenaud secures maiden IndyCar title

Simon Pagenaud on his way to claiming the Verizon IndyCar Series crown at Sonoma

Simon Pagenaud on his way to claiming the Verizon IndyCar Series crown at Sonoma

Simon Pagenaud capped a career defining season by winning his maiden Verizon IndyCar Series title in an anti-climatic finale at Sonoma.

Pagenaud’s only threat to the crown, Will Power, was cursed with a clutch control unit issue, snuffing out his chances on lap 37 of 85.

The problem which prevented a gear being selected, extinguished Power’s hopes of victory and any chance he had of adding another crown to his 2014 series-winning effort.

Frenchman Pagenaud put in the perfect race to beat Graham Rahal (Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan Racing) with Team Penske’s Juan Montoya third, ensuring he clasped his hands on the Astor Cup in convincing style.

 “I think I will realise tomorrow (what he’s achieved). (there’s) So much emotion right now to be honest,” Pagenaud, who led 76 laps, said.

“My whole career has been about today and getting to this level. When you can perform at 100 percent under pressure like this, it is amazing.”

Power was eventually released back into the action after the crew fixed the electronic problem but he had lost eight laps in the process, eventually classified in 20th.

Pagenaud, who claimed his fifth win of the season and became the ninth IndyCar champion for Roger Penske in its 50th year, carried out a clinical performance that was not in any way diluted by Power’s ill fortune as he completed absolute domination at the Californian venue.

After going into the decider with a 43-point advantage, the 32-year-old ended 127 points clear of Power with Castroneves completing a trifecta for Penske drivers in the series.

Ryan Hunter-Reay, who has signed an extension with Andretti Autosport to 2020, finished fourth ahead of Alex Rossi (Andretti-Herta) who was crowned rookie-of-the-year, Josef Newgarden (Ed Carpenter Racing) and Helio Castroneves (Team Penske).

Pagenaud moved out in the early laps to a clear lead over Castroneves and Power, who lost ground in the first stint on the red tyres.

Power was the first to pit after 15 laps with Pagenaud covering off a lap later as the Frenchman rejoined in front while his pursuer leaped Castroneves for second.

Schmidt-Peterson driver James Hinchcliffe charged from 20th to 13th in the opening 10 laps before finishing 12th.

Outgoing four-times series champ Scott Dixon finished 17th in the final race which will see sponsor Target depart the Ganassi team after a 27-year partnership.

Dixon had to stop mid-race to replace his earplugs and was the last of the runners classified on the lead lap.

See below for full results

Pos

SP

Car

Driver

C/A/E/T

Lap

Laps Down

Time Down

Pit Stops

Elapsed Time

Avg Speed

Pts

Running/Reason Out

1

1

22

Simon Pagenaud

D/C/C/F

85

0

–.—-

3

02:00:12.9424

101.181

104

Running

2

5

15

Graham Rahal

D/H/H/F

85

0

3.2523

3

02:00:16.1947

101.135

81

Running

3

3

2

Juan Montoya

D/C/C/F

85

0

18.0157

3

02:00:30.9581

100.929

70

Running

4

6

28

Ryan Hunter-Reay

D/H/H/F

85

0

29.7224

3

02:00:42.6648

100.765

64

Running

5

8

98

Alex Rossi(r)

D/H/H/F

85

0

30.6649

3

02:00:43.6073

100.752

60

Running

6

10

21

Josef Newgarden

D/C/C/F

85

0

32.2754

3

02:00:45.2178

100.730

56

Running

7

2

3

Helio Castroneves

D/C/C/F

85

0

32.8490

4

02:00:45.7914

100.722

53

Running

8

14

27

Marco Andretti

D/H/H/F

85

0

34.3002

3

02:00:47.2426

100.702

48

Running

9

12

83

Charlie Kimball

D/C/C/F

85

0

34.9353

4

02:00:47.8777

100.693

44

Running

10

9

11

Sebastien Bourdais

D/C/C/F

85

0

43.8965

3

02:00:56.8389

100.569

40

Running

11

11

7

Mikhail Aleshin

D/H/H/F

85

0

49.3242

4

02:01:02.2666

100.493

38

Running

12

20

5

James Hinchcliffe

D/H/H/F

85

0

51.1304

3

02:01:04.0728

100.468

36

Running

13

13

10

Tony Kanaan

D/C/C/F

85

0

52.1792

4

02:01:05.1216

100.454

34

Running

14

15

14

Takuma Sato

D/H/H/F

85

0

52.6331

4

02:01:05.5755

100.448

32

Running

15

16

26

Carlos Munoz

D/H/H/F

85

0

56.6756

4

02:01:09.6180

100.392

30

Running

16

18

8

Max Chilton(r)

D/C/C/F

85

0

1:09.2581

5

02:01:22.2005

100.218

28

Running

17

7

9

Scott Dixon

D/C/C/F

85

0

1:21.1112

5

02:01:34.0536

100.055

26

Running

18

17

41

Jack Hawksworth

D/H/H/F

84

1

6

02:00:33.2952

99.709

24

Running

19

22

19

RC Enerson(r)

D/H/H/F

84

1

5

02:01:31.2600

98.916

22

Running

20

4

12

Will Power

D/C/C/F

77

8

3

02:01:11.5582

90.919

20

Running

21

21

18

Conor Daly(r)

D/H/H/F

36

49

3

00:56:33.9000

91.074

18

Mechanical

22

19

20

Spencer Pigot(r)

D/C/C/F

35

50

2

00:49:14.6307

101.708

16

Mechanical

Final points standings

1 Simon Pagenaud 659
2 Will Power 532
3 Helio Castroneves 504
4 Josef Newgarden 502
5 Graham Rahal 484
6 Scott Dixon 477
7 Tony Kanaan 461
8 Juan Pablo Montoya 433
9 Charlie Kimball 433
10 Carlos Munoz 432
11 Alexander Rossi 430
12 Ryan Hunter-Reay 428
13 James Hinchcliffe 416
14 Sebastien Bourdais 404
15 Mikhail Aleshin 347
16 Marco Andretti 339
17 Takuma Sato 320
18 Conor Daly 313
19 Max Chilton 267
20 Jack Hawksworth 229
21 Spencer Pigot 165
22 Gabby Chaves 121
23 J.R. Hildebrand 84
24 Oriol Servia 72
25 Ed Carpenter 67
26 Luca Filippi 61
27 R.C. Enerson 55
28 Townsend Bell 55
29 Pippa Mann 46
30 Matthew Brabham 37
31 Alex Tagliani 35
32 Sage Karam 22
33 Bryan Clauson 21
34 Stefan Wilson 14
35 Buddy Lazier 12

 

 

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