After a 105 year dry spell, a French driver has won the Indianapolis 500. And it’s none other than Simon Pagenaud – the driver of the #22 Team Penske Chevrolet.
Yesterday, Pagenaud completed 200 laps around the 2.5-mile track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, giving the racing dynasty their second consecutive victory at the Greatest Spectacle in motorsport. What makes this win extra special is that it occurred on the 50th anniversary of Penske’s first appearance in the Indy 500.
Don’t call it a comeback
A year ago, the world of racing had written Simon Pagenaud off following a winless 2018 campaign. Rumor coming into this season was that Penske was planning to replace the French driver with Alexander Rossi, the man who would be his fiercest competitor at the Brickyard.
Pagenaud started the 103rd Indy 500 from pole position after qualifying with a speed of 229.992 mph. He then led the race for 116 laps while keeping an aggressive Rossi in a Honda for Andretti Autosport at bay. A red flag following a crash stopped the race for about 20 minutes, after which Rossi finally took the lead.
Their battle to first was an exciting one for fans, as the two drivers fought and passed each other five times before Pagenaud charged ahead in a final sprint, winning by a mere 0.2086 seconds.
“I never expected to be in this position, and I certainly am grateful,” an ecstatic Pagenaud stated after the milk-chugging tradition. He became the first pole-sitter to win the Indy 500 since 2009, and the first Frenchman since Rene Thomas did so in 1914.
It seemed as if Pagenaud could do no wrong this month., who also took first at the IndyCar Grand Prix.