Unlike many drivers from the open-wheel ranks, 2016 IndyCar champion Simon Pagenaud says he would like to give NASCAR a try on an oval track rather than a road course.
The Team Penske driver scored five IndyCar victories this season, but has yet to score his first oval win, but admitted he would love to try a left-turn-only course in a stock car.
During an appearance on Sunday at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, he said: “I’m obviously pretty open-minded as a driver. I’ve raced sports cars, I’ve raced in IndyCar obviously, I’ve raced rally cars in Europe and I’m open to any kind of racing. I’ve raced different-size cars, different engines, different tires and that makes it interesting for a driver to taste all these different things.
“Everybody asks me if I would like to drive on a road course, but I actually would enjoy it more to try it on an oval.”
Pagenaud said he would go into such an opportunity “very humble” and accepting he’d have to modify his technique.
“You would have to relearn a lot of things,” he said. “The drafting is very different. The way you position your car, as well as the way you deal with your tires, seems to be quite different.
“It’s a different sport but I would really much enjoy it.”
However, the 32-year-old native of France said he didn’t know when an opportunity to run a NASCAR race with Team Penske might occur as his priority right now is in IndyCar.
“At this point I’m very focused on IndyCar because that’s where I’m at. I want to try to get more championships and especially the Indy 500 now, that’s my main goal,” he said.
“NASCAR, though, is a huge sport and the cars are very interesting. I always like to say it’s like playing hockey or playing football. It’s a very different job, for sure.”
Sunday was Pagenaud’s first visit to Martinsville, NASCAR’s shortest track and the only one that has been on the Cup series schedule since its inception in 1948.
Pagenaud said his first thoughts on the track were that it was “an incredible bullring.”
He commented: “Our bullring is Iowa [Speedway], but this is even smaller and it’s incredible. I’ve watched races here on TV and I’ve raced online on iRacing with other NASCAR drivers.
“This one and Bristol are always interesting for me to watch. There is such traffic in the race. For me, what’s really interesting to watch is which lane to pick and how to race other people.
“I’ve always found some drivers are very smart that way – finding their way through traffic. It makes you think about it while you watch the race. It’s definitely about muscle here in order to make your way around.”