This past season, Simon Pagenaud had the best season of his Verizon IndyCar Series career, en route to picking up his first career series championship.
Points Finish: 1st
Car No.: 22
Driver Name: Simon Pagenaud
Team Name: Team Penske
Total Races: 16
Victories: 5 – Long Beach, Barber, Indianapolis G.P., Mid-Ohio, Sonoma
Average Start: 3.9
Average Finish: 6.1
With a pair of runner-ups followed by three wins in a row in the first five races, it was clear Simon Pagenaud was the favourite from the beginning for the championship this season. It was just a question whether he could keep the momentum rolling through the rest of the year and maintain his advantage. Despite facing some adversity, including four finishes outside of the top-10, he weathered the storm which fell his way as he never once lost the points lead over the course of the season. Solid consistency each week, producing the best finish his team could garner, allowed the Frenchman to take home his first career championship.
Highlight of 2016 – Obviously winning the championship as a whole was a highlight for Pagenaud this year. However, capping off with a dominating performance at Sonoma Raceway which saw him lead 76 laps was the icing on the cake for the season.
Downfall of 2016 – There were concerns in May when he had a pair of finishes outside of the top-10 and his competition racked up strong finishes, but leading the points from the second race on provided few downfalls to consider.
Road/Street Course Analysis – Pagenaud showed this was his area of expertise with five wins in 11 events. The only time he faltered was a result of a mechanical issues on his car, which happened twice.
Oval Analysis – While he was unable to reach victory lane, he proved he was no slouch as he posted a runner-up at Phoenix International Raceway to go along with a fourth at Iowa Speedway.
Notes for 2017 – Pagenaud has proven he can get the job done against the best drivers on the circuit. However, they say no driver is the complete package till they’ve won an oval. That’s something the Frenchman will be looking to accomplish when the season starts. Besides that, as long as he repeats this past season, he’ll be tough to beat.
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