Simon Pagenaud knows all eyes will be on him as he takes the track once again this he weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The same goes for Will Power.
The Team Penske pair are the only drivers to have won the GMR Grand Prix, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES’ stop on the road course at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway (noon ET, Saturday on NBC). Pagenaud knows that Team Penske enters the weekend as the group to beat on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile course, especially after winning the last four races at Indianapolis, including the last two Indianapolis 500s. Penske drivers also have won the GMR Grand Prix for the last five consecutive years.
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Pagenaud, who won the inaugural race in 2014, enters this weekend’s race as its defending champion. His win in the 2019 GMR Grand Prix set the stage for a life-changing Month of May. And even though the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the race to July, it still brings him sweet memories.
“I am thrilled to go back to Indianapolis,” Pagenaud said. “My whole life changed last May when my Menards Chevrolet team had that incredible month by winning both the Indianapolis 500 and the INDYCAR GP. Memories I will never forget. Now we finally have the opportunity to return and attempt to win again.”
“We have had some amazing success there as a team since Simon (Pagenaud) and I are still the only winners,” said Power, who has won the race and the pole three times in six seasons. “This is such a fun road course and always is a place where the series really can put on a show. Any time we race at Indianapolis is always just something else. There’s so much history at that track, and it means so much to our series. With Roger (Penske) owning the track now, it’s even more special knowing how much the series, the track and our team mean to him.”
The rescheduling of the race to July 4 means that the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and NASCAR Cup Series will share a venue on the same weekend for the first time. It’s also the first road course race of the season and the start of a hectic portion of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule, with eight races combined in July and August.
Though social distancing measures will keep drivers from both series from mingling in the paddock and fans away from the track, it’s still an exciting aspect to the weekend.
“I’ve been excited as soon as the NASCAR-INDYCAR doubleheader was announced,” five-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Scott Dixon said. “It’s fantastic. I was a bit saddened only because I think that would be something great for the fans to see. I hope it’s something that will progress to more in the future.”