HVM Racing press release
Pagenaud Comes Through for HVM Racing During an Unusual Race Weekend
August 28, 2011 - Somona, CA - A weekend of chaos yielded a good race from HVM Racing and fill-in driver Simon Pagenaud at Infineon Raceway.
Only three days before the race, HVM Racing was informed that their primary driver, Simona De Silvestro, was denied access into the United States while traveling back from her home country of Switzerland. The team enlisted the help of Pagenaud, who had subbed for two other teams on road courses during the 2011 IZOD IndyCar season. The French driver was asked to pilot the No. 78 Nuclear Clean Air Energy car on a day-to-day basis until De Silvestro is able to return.
Throughout the weekend, the team worked to set up the car for Pagenaud, who had never driven the Infineon Raceway track. Each practice session brought improvements and although Pagenaud qualified the car in P22, he was optimistic about a solid race-day performance.
The former Champ Car driver delivered on that promise. At the start of the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma, the team made a strategic pit stop on lap eight and Pagenaud was able to advance to P15 by lap 27. A switch to sticker reds came during the team's next pit stop on lap 33, after which he said made the car feel really dialed in. By lap 40, HVM Racing had the fastest car on the track.
Unfortunately, a full-course caution came out on lap 66 and Pagenaud drew a penalty for passing the leader under yellow. He served the drive-through and finished the race in P16.
"Overall, it was a good race," said Pagenaud. "I'm very happy with how the car handled - it's a really good race car, especially on the reds. We were really hooked up, especially in the middle part of the race. I was glad to see that we could keep the pace with Will Power and I was impressed with the Nuclear Clean Air Energy team all weekend - they really worked hard. In the end, the decision from race control to give me the drive-through is a bit surprising. It's just a shame. What we need to remember is that it was a good race and we were on pace with the leaders. It was a good end to a very late-notice weekend."
He also added, "I want to thank the whole HVM team and their sponsors for having me in the car this weekend and trusting me for the job."
HVM Racing is pleased with the performance and looks forward to finishing the remainder of the season with continued success. The team is now focused on rectifying the travel issues for Simona De Silvestro, to have her back in the car for the next race.
The Swiss driver is ready to return as quickly as possible. "I'm very disappointed to be missing the race weekend in Sonoma," said De Silvestro. "Infineon Raceway is a fun track and we had a productive test there last week. Even thought I'm not able to be driving the Nuclear Clean Air Energy car this weekend, I'm glad that HVM was able to find another great driver to fill in for me. Thanks to Simon Pagenaud for helping the team out and I can't wait to be back in the cockpit very soon!"