Simon Pagenaud has won for the second time in 2014.
Anyone that tells you street racing is boring in the Verizon IndyCar Series clearly did not have their television turned to today’s race.
In a race that saw more action on a temporary circuit that I’ve seen in a long time, Simon Pagenaud got the hammer down and ran the only lap of the race under one minute as he won the second race in the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston.
Constant passing and re-passing in the midfield with contact, chicane skipping and crazy driving rewarded the brave and penalized the overambitious.
Helio Castroneves found that out the hard way.
Pagenaud was thankful that he had his teammate Mikhail Aleshin behind him at the finish.
“I've got to say thanks to Mikhail, I think he really helped me for this race. He was a tremendous teammate today. He didn't really try to challenge me on the restarts. I got really good restarts on my own, but he wasn't playing the aggressor Mikhail can be, so I want to thank him because he thought about the team interests, my interest in the championship, and that's very unusual for a teammate to do that,” Pagenaud said.
Aleshin needed to rebound majorly from the first race of the weekend and came through despite losing part of his front wing early in the race after Graham Rahal exited the pits in front of him.
“I had a flat tire on my car in the last few laps. I was really lucky to finish, actually. I’m very happy, the team did am amazing job. […] I don’t have enough English words to thank the team for that,” Aleshin said.
Aleshin didn’t put himself under too much stress to improve on the weekend but he had to get a better result, and ultimately he redeemed himself.
Third place was fellow rookie Jack Hawksworth, completing a weekend where all four full time IndyCar rookies made the podium between the two races. Hawksworth had a bunch of hungry drivers eating at him during the last ten laps of the race, including a mega battle with Charlie Kimball and Juan Pablo Montoya.
“Today we were quick at the right time, the guys did a great strategy to be fast when we were fast and I think that’s what enabled us to get to the front and get us the opportunity to finish on the podium,” Hawksworth said about his race.
After his less than stellar weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, Hawksworth was glad to recover with a good set of races at Houston, the time off helping him out.
“I think the thing between Texas and Houston it was the only gap we’ve had in the season so it gave us a little bit of time to prep the car, spend a little bit of money on it and get the team and all of us to go back to base and get kind of reset,” Hawksworth said.
Hawksworth was set to finish fourth until a part failed in the rear of Will Power’s car with a couple of laps to go.
“We had a parts malfunction with two laps to go, it’s the same part that malfunctioned on two other cars at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis,” Power said.
What that part is has yet to be disclosed.
The rest of the top ten were Kimball and Sebastien Bourdais rounding off the top five, Bourdais after a mega stint in the last ten laps to pick up four spots to go from ninth to fifth, and sixth through tenth were Ryan Hunter-Reay, Montoya, Ryan Briscoe, Marco Andretti and Tony Kanaan.
Will Power leaves Houston with a 39 point advantage over teammate Helio Castroneves. Ryan Hunter-Reay remains 3rd, 41pts back.