Simon Pagenaud stormed from the last spot on the starting grid to victory on Friday in the first race of IndyCar’s weekend double-header at Iowa Speedway.
The 36-year-old French driver, Simon Pagenaud claimed the lead on the 178th lap and held off New Zealand’s Scott Dixon and rookie Oliver Askew in the closing stages to capture his first win of the season.
He had been relegated to the 23rd spot on the starting grid after failing to post a qualifying time because of a fuel pressure problem.
“What a night,” Simon Pagenaud said.
“What a day for us. Amazing group effort from the whole Team Penske. We unloaded really well. Qualifying was disheartening, but these guys never give up, and that’s what this team is all about.”
The Penske driver’s victory snapped the season-opening run of success for Chip Ganassi Racing. Ganassi’s Dixon had won the first three races of 2020 before teammate Felix Rosenqvist claimed the fourth.
Two yellow flags slowed the race and Simon Pagenaud used the opportunity to overtake Pato O’Ward and Askew to lead for the final 72 laps.
The first caution flag came out when Australian Will Power hit the wall in the 146th lap after his left front wheel came loose following a pit stop.
On the ensuing restart, Colton Herta and Rinus VeeKay collided in a crash that sent Herta airborne, but both escaped unhurt.
“It happened so fast that I wasn’t really sure what was going on,” said Herta, who drove over the top of VeeKay not realising the restart had been waved off because O’Ward was ruled to have jumped the green flag.
The win pushed Pagenaud into second place in the 2020 IndyCar series standings, his 163 points still well behind the 213 of leader Dixon.