News & Multimedia

Pagenaud Prevails in Inaugural Race at Indy

Spectators streaming into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway mid-morning to secure prime vantage spots were quickly joined by tens of thousands of other ticket-holders on a glorious spring day to witness the first-ever Verizon IndyCar Series race on the new road course.

"Wow! What a great day of racing," Jim O'Neill of Louisville, Ky., enthused in the sun-drenched Pagoda Plaza late during the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis. "You had it all."

Strategy, drama, overtaking, bumps and bruises, and -- in what was a devastatingly surprising and frustrating development for first-time Verizon P1 Award winner Sebastian Saavedra -- a standing start that knocked his and two other cars out of the 82-lap battle before cars reached the first of 14 turns on the 2.439-mile circuit.

Finally, fans saw history as Simon Pagenaud picked up the hard-earned win but couldn't celebrate with a burnout because there was nary a drop of E85 left in the 18.5-gallon fuel tank.



View Grand Prix of Indianapolis Race Results

"He doesn't like to save fuel, but he did everything we asked him to do today," race strategist Rob Edwards said.

Pagenaud, who started fourth in the No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports car, held off Ryan Hunter-Reay by .8906 of a second for his third Verizon IndyCar Series victory and the charging Helio Castroneves, celebrating his 39th birthday, by 1.8244 seconds. Like Pagenaud's, Hunter-Reay's No. 28 DHL car was starved for fuel after completing 28 laps. Castroneves, who started 10th in the No. 3 Verizon Team Penske car, had plenty of fuel and was closing in the final laps but couldn't get around Hunter-Reay.

“Did you hear the number they were asking for? This car’s making fuel, I think, thanks to Honda," said Pagenaud, who will mark his 30th birthday May 18. "The fuel we’re saving is amazing. With the pace it was nerve-racking. I was worried about Helio coming back and I didn’t know what Hunter Reay was doing either, so I just kept working. My lap time was saving fuel, being off throttle. I don’t like racing off throttle. But it worked out."

Sebastien Bourdais finished a season-high fourth, while Charlie Kimball jumped 18 positions relative to his starting spot to finish fifth. Teammate Ryan Briscoe gained eight positions from the start and overcame a drive-through penalty for a pit safety infraction to finish sixth. Series rookie Jack Hawksworth, who earned his first front-row start, led a field-high 31 laps and finished seventh.

There were 12 lead changes, and Pagenaud inherited the point for the duration on Lap 78 when Oriol Servia had to make a fuel stop. He led Hunter-Reay across the line by 2.8 seconds on Lap 80 and coaxed the Honda-powered car to navigate the final laps without incident or stalling.

Both Hunter-Reay and Pagenaud gained on championship points leader Will Power, who started fifth in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car and placed a season-low eighth. Power (149) leads Hunter-Reay by one point and Pagenaud by six heading into the points-laden Indianapolis 500 on May 25.

"Everybody was doing different strategies, but it was a lot of fun," said Hunter-Reay, who has a victory and pair of runner-up finishes this season. "I would rather not have saved fuel at the end. But the team put us on the right strategy, so thanks to them. I thought maybe we had a shot that time but hopefully we’re saving that last step of the podium for the big race at the end of the month (the Indianapolis 500)."

Pagenaud is the fourth different winner in as many races this season, which also has seen four different pole sitters. Saavedra, of Colombia, was the latest, and he was expecting to challenge for the victory after a strong performance in the three rounds of qualifications.

But as the starting lights extinguished and drivers were launching from their starting spots on the frontstretch, the No. 17 AFS KV AFS Racing car didn't move. Drivers immediately behind dodged Saavedra, but the Nos. 34 (Carlos Munoz) and 7 (Mikhail Aleshin) cars slammed into the helpless Saavedra. The drivers weren't injured, but City of Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, who was waving the ceremonial green flag, suffered a soft tissue injury on his arm from flying debris and was treated at the IU Health Infield Medical Center and released.

“We just followed protocol of the start. As soon as I released the clutch you went from 11,000 RPMs to 0," Saavedra said. "Very sad because we did an amazing job. The team had very high expectations. When you have the opportunity to be in the front of the pack in this amazing place you want to bring it home. To not even get a chance because of an electrical thing or something (is disappointing)."

About 18 hours after the checkered flag, most of the drivers will take to the 2.5-mile oval for the opening of practice for the Indianapolis 500. Qualifications are May 17-18.

Show More Show Less
Now Viewing
Pagenaud Prevails in Inaugural Race at Indy
 
Pagenaud Prevails in Inaugural Race at Indy
Spectators streaming into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway mid-morning to secure prime vantage spots were quickly joined by tens of thousands of other ticket-holders on a glorious spring day to witness the first-ever Verizon IndyCar Series race on the new road course.
Read More
Related Media
2015 Rolex 24 Victory Podium
 
INDYCAR Drivers Continue 24-Hour Race Wins Streak
Victory in the 53rd Rolex 24 at Daytona will be quite the preseason confidence boost to Kanaan and teammate Scott Dixon, who co-drove the No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates car with Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray.
Read More
Indy Lights Open Test
 
Indy Lights Drivers Impressed After Initial Test With New Car
Eight drivers representing five teams took part in the two-day test at the 2.034-mile Palm Beach International Raceway in Jupiter, Fla., and all were ecstatic about the pace, consistency and reliability of the car, which will make its race debut on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., on March 28-29.
Read More
Sarah Fisher
 
Sarah Fisher To Compete in 2015 Chili Bowl
Sarah Fisher will return to the driver's seat next weekend to compete in the 29th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire in Tulsa, Okla. The woman voted most popular driver four times in two different series will campaign the No. 67RW for RW Motorsports, owned by Steve Weirich and Mario Rotondo. Hartman Oil will be the presenting sponsor on the midget.
Read More
IndyCar New Year's Eve Drop
 
Ed Carpenter Helps Count Down New Year’s Eve Indy Car Drop
In true Indy fashion, an actual Indy car presented by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Verizon IndyCar Series was suspended high above the Georgia Street stage and descended for the final seconds of 2014
Read More
Ryan Hunter-Reay
 
Hunter-Reay Prepares For The Race of Champions
Hunter-Reay and Busch, Andretti Autosport teammates for the Indy 500 in May, will represent the U.S. in the Nations Cup competition.
Read More
Items 1 - 5 of 202
Reserve one of our hospitality suites for your next event!
To start planning your event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway please fill out our Information Request Form or contact Phil Sparks at (317) 492-6463 or email at psparks@brickyard.com.
Latest Tweets
Member of the IMS Safety Patrol, Judy Steffey, tells us about her time spent with Tom Carnegie on The Blog: http://t.co/dZoNhE2ngX
about 2 hours ago