Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud took a dominant win in the Honda Grand Prix at Barber Motorsports Park Sunday, leading all but six laps around the 2.3-mile road course. The win is Pagenaud’s second in a row, coming after he drove to his first-ever victory for Team Penske at Long Beach last Sunday.
Pagenaud started from pole position Sunday and got away from the pack clean, immediately taking the lead and finding little challenge from the competitors behind. The Frenchman eventually came upon lapped traffic, however, slowing him down and allowing Honda’s Graham Rahal to close in.
By Lap 82, Rahal had closed the gap to Pagenaud enough where he could make a move for the lead. The Honda driver made his move on Turn 8, diving down the inside of the Penske Chevrolet and making slight contact with Pagenaud’s right rear tire. This pushed Pagenaud wide and allowed Rahal to take first, but his minor victory would be short lived.
On Lap 85, Rahal ran into the rear of Jack Hawksworth’s AJ Foyt Racing Honda while trying to pass the lapped car, damaging his front wing. This allowed Pagenaud to easily take back first, passing Rahal in Turn 17 of the Alabama road course. With the Honda’s aerodynamics badly damaged, Pagenaud drove away from Rahal to take his sixth IndyCar career victory.
Pagenaud applauded Rahal’s driving post-race, but acknowledged the strength his team has been showing in the opening rounds of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season.
“We are just on a roll,” he said. “The car is amazing and I am so comfortable driving that PPG car. We made it exciting at the end for the fans, which is great. I am happy there was some action.”
“In the end, Graham really caught up and he gave me a good piece of driving that was amazing from him,” Pagenaud added. “I put my hat off to him for that. He got me really excited. After I went off track I said, ‘Yeah, I’m going to get that one back no matter what.’ We had so much pace in the car that I could get back to him, and then it was about being aggressive.”
The Verizon IndyCar Series heads to Indianapolis Motor Speedway next for the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Click here for full results from Barber and here for a full schedule for the GP of Indy.