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Pagenaud Continues To Flex Penske Muscle in Busy Monday Practice

Simon Pagenaud just can’t stop leading the results sheet this month at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Pagenaud led a two-hour practice session Monday for the 103rd Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge at 228.441 mph in the No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet less than 24 hours after he won the pole for “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Pagenaud, from Montmorillon, France, opened the Month of May by winning the INDYCAR Grand Prix on Saturday, May 10 on the IMS road course.

“I think we've got a really good balance so far,” Pagenaud said. “I think we still need to find a little more front grip alone and in traffic, and I think we'll be in really good shape. Then the tricky part is going to be to find the right level of downforce for the race. With the temperature changing, that's a very relevant point that is very important to work on with the engineers.”

Team Penske took the top two spots Monday in practice, as 2017 NTT IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden was second at 228.273 in the No. 2 Shell V-Power Nitro Plus Team Penske Chevrolet. It was a solid rebound for Newgarden, who was disappointed to qualify eighth for the “500” on Sunday.

James Hinchcliffe managed an even more impressive climb Monday, ending up third on the speed chart at 227.994 in the No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda after qualifying 32nd for the race Sunday in the tense Last Row Shootout.

2008 Indianapolis 500 winner and five-time series champion Scott Dixon was fourth at 227.951 in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Dixon qualified a disappointing 18th Saturday, not earning a spot in the Fast Nine Shootout on Sunday that decided the pole and first three rows of the grid.

2016 Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi rounded out the top five at 227.660 in the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda.

Practice today featured large packs of cars dancing in and out of position, as teams worked on stable, fast setups in anticipation of Race Day this Sunday. All 33 drivers in the starting field combined to turn 2,469 laps. Rookie Santino Ferrucci was the busiest driver, turning 98 laps.

“It was an interesting morning,” Pagenaud said. “It was really good to be able to run with a lot of people on track. I thought at the end it was almost like a race. Everybody was on track. So that was entertaining. It was a good way to see how the car was reacting.”

Just one on-track session remains for the starting field before Race Day, Miller Lite Carb Day practice from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (ET) Friday.

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