When you get the chance to drive something with name 'Penske' on it, there's a reason to have high expectations.
For Verizon IndyCar Series stalwart Simon Pagenaud, he will kick-off the 2015 racing season behind the wheel of a factory Corvette C7.R during the grueling Rolex24 at Daytona and joining with teammates Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner in search of another victory for the iconic American manufacturer.
Racing a Corvette at Daytona
“The Corvette team welcomed me well and racing a GT car is something new for me,” he said, indicating he has been having a good time behind the wheel of the sleek Corvette. “I was very excited to get this assignment with Corvette and the C7.R is an icon of American racing. It is very special for me to have such an opportunity.”
Team Penske is a big name in America; it is like Ferrari in Europe.
As soon as the checkered flag falls at Daytona, Pagenaud will turn his attention to his long-sought dream assignment with Team Penske on the Verizon IndyCar circuit. “It is super exciting to realize my childhood dream to drive with Team Penske and Roger Penske. I am very excited to be in this position,” Pagenaud said during the recent Roar before the 24 session at Daytona.
An offer you can't refuse
Pagenaud joins an all-star Team Penske line-up that includes reigning series champion Will Power and Indianapolis 500 champions Helio Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya. In 2014, the four drivers won 7 races, making them favorites to win wherever they race be it road and street courses or high-speed the ovals. With the addition of Pagenaud, the Terrific Trio in 2014 may well be dubbed the Fearsome Foursome going forward. “Team Penske is a big name in America; it is like Ferrari in Europe. For me, I am proud to wear the logo and to be part of the team,” Pagenaud added.
According to Pagenaud, he has been talking with Team Penske for many years. “We started talking back in 2008, so we have had this desire to work together for a long time,” he commented. “In racing, it is all about timing and this time the timing was perfect. When I got the final call from Roger, it was a very exciting moment for me. It is special when your hero calls you, saying he wants you to drive for him. It is like finally being with the girl-friend you have always wanted to be with.”
Pagenaud didn’t hesitate to accept the invite. “With Team Penske when they want something done, it gets done quickly.”
Ben Bretzman a key factor in Pagenaud's move
One of the key factors for Pagenaud to make the move was having engineer Ben Bretzman move with him. Bretzman has overseen Pagenaud’s cars for some 10 years, and as the results show, the duo click very well. “His presence will make the transition very easy,” Pagenaud noted.
Team Penske wants fans to identify with its cars regardless of the series, so Pagenaud’s Chevrolet-powered entry will carry No. 22, the same number used by Joey Logano in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series. No sponsor identity is known at this time.
Forming a relationship with teammates
Pagenaud has spent time with his new teammates over the winter months, and they have gotten along well. “We have been together a lot doing sponsor events and did a go-kart charity race with Montoya in Columbia, so I have had time to get to know them,” the articulate driver commented. “Now, we have to get to work together on the race track. The important thing for us is to win as Team Penske and the best one will win on the track.”
Pagenaud can’t wait for the Verizon IndyCar Series to start and that happens in Brazil on March. For the new season, the likable driver said, “I plan to do my best and my goal is to perform at 100 per cent. And I know the team will be doing exactly the same behind me. It is just about executing. As long as we are at 100 per cent, we should be in good shape.”
For his dream season to be successful, Pagenaud wants to be in top three and fighting for the championship. “My job is to be doing the job I have always been doing and perform at 100 per cent and do the best I can.”
If Pagenaud’s determination and Team Penske’s preparation jell as expected, the Frenchman should continue with his winning ways in 2015.