Simon Pagenaud won the Desert Diamond Phoenix Grand Prix Saturday night at Phoenix International Raceway. The 1 mile desert oval was the site of the 3rd race on the 2017 IndyCar schedule.
For the second straight year, Helio Castroneves would start from P1. He set a new track record of 194.9 mph and captured the King of Speed crown award Friday evening.
The Brazilian finished 4th after leading a total of 73 laps in the No. 3 REV Group Team Penske Chevy.
Pagenaud took advantage of a mid-race caution on lap 138 as Takuma Sato smacked the wall exiting turn 4. His teammate, Will Power, who was leading at the time, was caught in the pits and at that point the Frenchman was able to snag the lead, and seemingly cruise to the victory.
However, in a post-race comment, Pagenaud would proclaim, “Those were the longest 50 laps of my life.” He continued, “I have a button on my wheel that tells me how many laps were left. I kept pressing it. It was stressful. The car was phenomenal.”
With his 10th victory, and the first oval track win of his career, Pagenaud, who also took the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship title, would leave Phoenix with the series points lead.
For team owner Roger Penske, the victory marked the 450th of his career spanning all of his motorsports affiliations.
Sebastien Bourdais, the series points leader coming into the weekend, was involved in a first lap wreck that also collected Mikhail Aleshin’s No. 7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda. Max Chilton, Graham Rahal, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Marco Andretti were also involved.
In addition to fans’ excitement surrounding renovations and remodeling taking place at PIR, drivers and team officials echoed those sentiments all weekend and were already anticipating next year’s race weekend.
Gallery: all photos by Kevin C Cox/ Core360 Sports