Pagenaud saves face for Penske
Behind Palou, Frenchman Simon Pagenaud saved Team Penske’s blushes after a difficult month of May for IndyCar racing’s most famous and successful team. Of the team’s four drivers, Australian V8 Supercar king Scott McLaughlin had made the best fist of qualifying, lining up 17th on the 33-car grid. But come the race, experience counted as 2019 Indy 500 victor Pagenaud rose from 26th to finish third, passing Arrow McLaren SP’s impressive young Mexican Pato O’Ward in the closing stages to chase Castroneves and Palou home. “I was coming for you!” said Pagenaud with a huge grin as he congratulated the winner in the 500’s aftermath. Indeed the Penske entry looked the quickest car on track in those final laps – but it was too little, too late for The Captain’s crew after a tough Indy 500.
Veteran and Indy specialist Ed Carpenter completed a strong month with a fifth place finish behind O’Ward, with Americans Santino Ferrucci and Sage Karam surprising with great runs to sixth and seventh respectively. Front row starter and early race leader Rinus VeeKay dropped away to finish eighth, ahead of two more returning veterans, two-time 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya and 2013 race winner Tony Kanaan.
As for pole position winner Scott Dixon, the six-time champion was out of luck early on when Briton Stefan Wilson crashed in the pitlane. It forced Dixon to stay out longer than he planned as the pitlane was closed to clear the accident, before the Chip Ganassi driver stopped anyway for emergency fuel. He ran dry on the way down pitlane and lost a lap as the team struggled to restart his Honda engine. Dixon fought hard and played a canny game to gain his lost lap back, but could only finish in 17th.