INDIANAPOLIS — A year ago, Simon Pagenaud and Alexander Rossi had an intense battle for the win in the 103th Running of the Indianapolis 500. They traded the lead in dramatic fashion in the closing laps with Pagenaud finishing just .2086-seconds ahead of Rossi.
Both have said that they don’t want to ever let anyone else win this race. Pagenaud, didn’t want to give up his ” reigning Indy 500 champion” title. Rossi, said that “finishing second here sucks.”
But, they had rough days on Sunday.
Pagenaud, went off sequence early due to James Davison bringing out an early race caution on Lap 4. He and several others would pit on that caution. So, when Marcus Ericsson crashed out on Turn 2, the leaders made their first stops of the day. That led to Pagenaud cycling up to second under the caution.
On the ensuing restart, he passed rookie Oliver Askew for the lead on Lap 31 and would lead the next 15 laps before pitting for his second time. Unfortunately, he’d never get his track position back and on Lap 131, the defending race winner made contact in Turn 2 with 2014 Indy 500 champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, causing damage to his No. 22 Chevrolet. He’d have to pit for repairs and ended any shot of a repeat win. We’ve had just two repeat winners in the last 66 years here. Pagenaud, finished 22nd on Sunday.
Rossi, had a bullet. He was fast and went up to the top three quickly. He’d have a top three car but a pit penalty for exiting his pit stall and hitting Takuma Sato ruined his day.
Rossi, was penalized for an unsafe release under that caution and would go from third to 21st. He was pushing hard to come back up through the field but he says his car was never set up to be that far back and while pushing to hard, he crashed on Lap 144 and finished 27th.