Mar 19, 2013, 3:00 PM EDT
#77 Simon Pagenaud
- Team: Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports
- Engine: Honda
- Sponsors: HP
- 2012: 5th Place, Four Podiums, Six Top Fives
2012 WRAP: Despite not winning a race, Pagenaud’s full-time return to open-wheel racing was still a smash. The Champ Car and sports car veteran quickly became one of the IZOD IndyCar Series’ top drivers, netting podium finishes at Long Beach, Belle Isle, Mid-Ohio and Baltimore. His run at the Beach may have been his most memorable of 2012, as he closed in on Will Power at an stellar rate of speed in the final laps before the Australian managed to hang on by eight-tenths of a second; he had been up by 5.9 seconds with five laps to go. Pagenaud also had some nice moments on the ovals, finishing sixth at Texas and fifth at Iowa.
2013 OUTLOOK: Pagenaud and SHM did a fantastic job as a single-car operation last season, and now the team has grown with rookie Tristan Vautier serving as his teammate. We’ll see how Pagenaud adapts to being a mentor, but he should be able to contend again this season with the strong team that he has behind him. However, he’ll have to start winning races over the Big Three teams (Andretti Autosport, Team Penske and Target Chip Ganassi Racing) in order to mount a legitimate title run against them. Continuing to hone his oval skills will also be a priority for him.