INDIANAPOLIS — Simon Pagenaud is rejuvenated again. Not that he wasn’t with Team Penske but sometimes you just need a fresh start. Pagenaud didn’t forget how to drive. Someone of his caliber doesn’t. The speed and talent was there the same way it was in 2021 as it was when he came to Penske in 2015.
Now, Meyer Shank Racing gets to witness it. So far, it’s playing out really well. Pagenaud has 3 top 11 finishes in his last 4 races run including a runner-up in last Saturday’s GMR Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
It’s a race he said then felt like a win and all about believing in the process.
“It’s all about process, and I believe in that,” Pagenaud said then. “I’m not someone that jumps in and manage to get you to the front in the first race. It’s not who I am, and I think Mike Shank and Jim Meyer knew that. It’s a process we have through.
“I had frustration up until now because we had so much performance, and it never really showed. Finally we are getting some results, which is very nice. A nice reward with all the hard work we’ve been putting in. It’s been a lot of work to today.
“Obviously, we have the big one coming up soon, and as you know, Helio and myself are really excited about that one. Obviously, it’s a big goal for Helio. A big goal for myself as well. We just have to keep pushing. Certainly a nice reward to take.”
The rejuvenation is because he says that because his job is a bit different now and that there’s a lot of exciting stuff that he can do.
“It’s one of my qualities that I can exploit,” he told me.
Now comes his first Indy 500 since 2014 that he’s not with Penske. It’s a vastly different opportunity as he says that the cars are so much different between the two teams.
“It’s almost not comparable,” he says. “There’s a feel that I have that I know that I want to go win the race from the race car that I know works so I’m working on that with my engineer Garrett. They have so much knowledge of the Speedway and have such good cars that we’re working on the process on how the car feels and the tires come up.
“At Penske I designed the car how I wanted fully. The biggest thing is my involvement with the team at Meyer Shank Racing is completely different. Penske is an organization and they’ve been around for 54 years, right. They know how to do this. At Meyer Shank Racing it’s a bit different. This is a younger team. They brought in experience with Helio (Castroneves) and myself so we’re bringing that value and saying we maybe need to look at this or look at that. It’s hard to beat 54 years of experience. It takes time.”
That time frame is speeding up. They’re starting to click over there in the No. 60 Dallara-Honda pit and one that could make him a dangerous factor for the other 32 drivers in Gasoline Alley.
“When I look back at Texas, I look back at Barber I look back at this one, the Grand Prix and the execution is going up, up and up,” Pagenaud notes. “The details are there’s less and less to work on so we’re closing the gap. We’re exploiting the best out of everything that we can do. Slowly we’re getting to be where we need to be. Obviously I think we have a really good dynamic. Really good momentum. Everybody working on the team is having a blast. I’m having a blast.”
His wife and kid gets to town at the end of this week to see his shiny new hardware that he won last weekend. He hopes to bring them more in two weeks.