Simon Pagenaud

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There was a point in last weekend’s Iowa 300 where it appeared Team Penske driver Simon Pagenaud would be challenging teammate Josef Newgarden for the victory at Iowa Speedway. Once racing began near midnight, Pagenaud led the first two laps from the pole.

Pagenaud continued to fight it out for much of the race, running second and third. That was before he had to hit the skids in Turn 2 to avoid hitting Marco Andretti midway through the race.

By dramatically slowing down, Pagenaud got shuffled back in the pack. This year’s Indianapolis 500 winner remained determined and was able to race his way back into the top three before the final caution period when Ed Carpenter crashed in Turn 2.

“Marco was six laps down and he took my air off -- just because,” Pagenaud told NTT INDYCAR Mobile. “All of a sudden, he was running low, then he decided to go high to take my air off.”

He paused.

“Whatever,” he said. “I didn’t crash. That’s the way it is.”

As Pagenaud walked down pit road, he had a few words for Sebastien Bourdais in French. Bourdais started 21st and finished ninth.

For the majority of the race the three Penske cars were running 1-2-3. It could have been a sweep at the finish as Newgarden won the race, but Pagenaud finished fourth and Will Power was penalized for improper pit entry on Lap 263 and that put him one lap down. Power finished 15th.

“I’m really happy for Team Penske; we had the best cars,” Pagenaud said. “I’m glad that we won the race as a team. Josef was in a class of his own. I’m glad we salvaged points for the championship and didn’t lose too much to him. He was clearly like me last week in Toronto.

“Those days, you salvage and make the best of your day. Fourth with whatever happened at the end with the drivers taking on new tires at the end, that is the best we could do.”

Scott Dixon was one of the drivers that pitted during the final caution to get fresh tires. That allowed him to race his way past the drivers on the older tires and finish second.

“That was a big play,” Pagenaud said. “Overall, I can’t be disappointed with the day. I’m there in the points.

“Josef is going to have his bad days. We gained on Alexander Rossi. There are a lot of points available and I’m right there with him. Remember, there are 100 points available in the final race.

“It’s going to be a four-horse race for the championship.”

Newgarden heads to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for this weekend’s Honda Indy 200 with a 29-point lead over Alexander Rossi, who finished sixth at Iowa. Pagenaud is third, 58 points behind Newgarden. Dixon is fourth, 98 points out of the lead.

The Honda Indy 200 can be seen Sunday at 4 p.m. on NBC. The radio call will be on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network and SiriusXM Channel 209.