UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. -- In 2012, Simon Pagenaud garnered the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award and placed fifth in the IZOD IndyCar Series standings.
This season, the French driver of the No. 77 Schmidt Peterson HP car earned two victories and third place in the standings.
Next year "hopefully we can gain two more spots," he said.
"We had great consistency and two great wins in Baltimore and Detroit," Pagenaud said. "The championship really rewards wins, so when you have a team that can win races and run consistent that really helps with the championship. I think that's what we did and we went to a new level.
"Now we're contenders."
Pagenaud received a bonus of $175,000 for his third-place points total during the INDYCAR Championship Celebration at the Globe Theatre at Universal Studios Hollywood less than 24 hours after the season-ending race at Auto Club Speedway.
Will Power, who came on strong in the second half of the season in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car, was the recipient of a $125,000 bonus for finishing fourth in the standings. Power won the final two races -- at Houston's street circuit and at the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway oval.
“I really wanted to focus on finishing the ovals and try to get as many laps of experience as I could," said Power, who was the series championship runner-up in 2010, '11 and '12. "We did that and our results have continued to improve. To win a 500-mile race like this, I think it really shows how far we’ve come and what we are capable of.”
Marco Andretti of Andretti Autosport received a $75,000 bonus for finishing fifth in the standings. Justin Wilson, who was involved in a crash during the MAVTV 500, was 12 points behind (472). Andretti Autosport teammates Ryan Hunter-Reay (469) and James Hinchcliffe (449) were in the hunt for bonus money until the finale.
"I'm more determined than ever to win a championship," said Andretti of the 18-race 2014 season.