SECOND TODAY AND POLE TOMORROW FOR TEAM AUSTRALIA Team Australia Champ Car Atlantic driver Simon Pagenaud has narrowly missed achieving his first race win for the season, but has taken another step in his Atlantic career by grabbing his first...
SECOND TODAY AND POLE TOMORROW FOR TEAM AUSTRALIA
Team Australia Champ Car Atlantic driver Simon Pagenaud has narrowly missed achieving his first race win for the season, but has taken another step in his Atlantic career by grabbing his first pole position for tomorrow's race in Cleveland, Ohio on Saturday.
Pagenaud finished second in the fifth round of the championship on Saturday. The Frenchman led the field away from second on the grid to lead the first 23 laps of the race in his Team Australia Swift.
Lapped traffic, however, was not kind to Pagenaud in the closing stages of the race. A slower car baulked the Team Australia driver, allowing Graham Rahal to pass with nine laps remaining to take the win. Pagenaud finished the race in second, under two seconds behind Rahal.
Pagenaud has now finished second in three of the five rounds held this year and is second in the championship as well as the best-placed rookie.
Young Australian James Davison continued to show that he is quickly improving in the competitive championship by finishing a strong 13th.
After qualifying second fastest four times this season, Pagenaud finally scored a pole position when earlier on Saturday he qualified fastest for Sunday's sixth round of the championship. Davison will start the race from 14th, putting in another solid effort in his Aussie Vineyards-backed Swift.
WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY --
SIMON PAGENAUD -- #15 TEAM AUSTRALIA SWIFT
"Today I had a very good start and the car was good," said Pagenaud.
"I was in control for most of the race. I drove very strongly on the first lap to make a gap on (Andreas) Wirth. The car was really good for the whole race and we could have won this race for sure.
"I came across a slower (lapped) car who didn't respect the blue flag as I came into a fast corner. He blocked me, which slowed me down and let (Graham) Rahal past. It is really disappointing because I had a really good car.
"I want to thank the whole team for all of their hard work and for giving me a great car. Hopefully tomorrow we will come away with a win. I'm very happy right now with position one for Sunday's race. This is our first pole position this year, which is great for us."
JAMES DAVISON -- #5 TEAM AUSTRALIA SWIFT
"I started from my best qualifying position in 13th, but I didn't get the best of starts," said Davison.
"Cleveland's first corner is infamous for its chaos and I really couldn't afford to be involved in any tangles, so I went straight to the outside and ran a wide line to be cautious. It wasn't too bad until a car went sideways in front of me and I had to back off the throttle. I lost momentum and was swamped by cars and ended the first lap in about 22nd place.
"But the Aussie Vineyards car was good today and throughout the race I regained the positions I lost, so I started 13th and finished 13th. I think tomorrow I will get a better start and not be so cautious at the start of the race."
DERRICK WALKER -- CO-OWNER TEAM AUSTRALIA
"Unfortunately I thought we had the win today, but traffic got in the way and that slowed Simon," said Walker.
"I think Rahal still has a really good set-up that continues, when he gets it all right, to be very effective. We have another chance tomorrow to do another couple of tweaks to see what we can do for the race. The team did an excellent job.
"James drove a really good, sensible race today. He drove well, passed a few cars, and considering it was his first standing start in an Atlantic car, he did a really good job."
CRAIG GORE -- CO-OWNER TEAM AUSTRALIA
"Simon continues to go from strength to strength and it is great to see him get his first pole position," said Gore.
"James is improving all the time and to qualify 13th was terrific. Although he had a bad start, he showed a lot of character to fight back and get back up there. It would be great to see him in the top 10 on Sunday."