WEST ALLIS, Wis. – Simon Pagenaud says he has achieved his season goal of winning races, but he isn’t ready to be counted out as a contender for the Verizon IndyCar Series championship.
“I think it’s been a good season,” the Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports driver said. “If everything goes accordingly to plan, you should be in the hunt. We won two races, which was part of our plan. The team has been competitive and on top of their game. I’m happy with where we are, and I like to chase. I think we’re in a really good position.”
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Pagenaud, who finished fifth in points en route to winning Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors in 2012 and was third in 2013, enters the ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 at Milwaukee IndyFest fourth in the championship standings.
Though he trails Will Power by 64 points, he said the deficit isn’t too much to overcome, especially with a maximum of 212 points on the table for the remaining three races.
“If this weekend (at Milwaukee) goes well, and Sonoma doesn’t go well, or even if this weekend doesn’t go well, as long you are within 70 points for the last race, you have a shot,” Pagenaud said. “I still feel like I have a really good chance.”
The 30-year-old Frenchman said ending the season with the short oval at Milwaukee, the natural terrain road course at Sonoma Raceway and the superspeedway at Auto Club Speedway is the perfect way to decide the Verizon IndyCar Series title.
But he knows to control his own destiny, he has to finish ahead of the competition, even if his results on ovals haven’t been the strongest part of his season.
“It’s going to take wins to win,” he said. “It’s down to the four of us at the top of the charts (Power, Helio Castroneves, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Pagenaud). The one (of the top four) that’s going to win one of the last three races is going to have the best chance.
“We know Ryan (Hunter-Reay) is really strong here and the Penske cars are strong at Sonoma. I think we have a really strong race car at Fontana. It’s going to be who makes the least mistakes and scores the most points. At this point, you need to be aggressive and go for it. I love this time of the year, when you’re in the hunt and it’s time to make it count.”