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VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES: THE SHELL AND PENNZOIL GRAND PRIX OF HOUSTON RACE 2


June 29, 2014


Simon Pagenaud


HOUSTON, TEXAS

THE MODERATOR:テつ We'll continue with Simon Pagenaud, the winner of the Shell Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston presented by the Greater Houston Honda Dealers, Race 2.テつ This is Simon's second win this season.テつ A previous win came for him at the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis in May.テつ It's his fourth IndyCar Series win ‑‑ he won twice in 2013 ‑‑ and his first IndyCar Series pole came yesterday in Race 1.テつ Simon, a monumental weekend for you.テつ How excited are you that the weekend ended so well?
SIMON PAGENAUD:テつ It's fantastic for the race team and the entire organization.テつ You know, having Mik come here second is incredible.テつ I think it's part of obviously his contribution to the team, his addition.テつ He's been a tremendous teammate and certainly was today.テつ Can't thank him enough for being such a good teammate.テつ It's working really well.テつ He's fast, and he brings great feedback, and like I said yesterday, his engineer and Ben our engineer are working together.テつ The whole team is elevated to top‑team level, and we were impressed with him today, and yesterday, as well, but today paid off, so it's a great feeling and it's awesome for the crew, obviously, just like you, they're going from race to race, and getting wins is the best motivation factor.
THE MODERATOR:テつ This is Schmidt Peterson Motorsports first time that they had a one‑two finish and the fourth career win for the team and the second this season.テつ Simon, talk about the addition of your teammate Mikhail Aleshin to the team.
SIMON PAGENAUD:テつ Mikhail, he's a funny guy actually because I'm Latin France as you know, and Mikhail is Russian, so my emotions are a bit like Helio, it goes up and down.テつ His emotion is more like a dead line basically.テつ I've got to tell you, I'm learning from that because he's able to‑‑ it was a compliment (laughing).テつ He's able to recover from, like, for example what happened to him yesterday was bad luck, and he recovers just quickly from events, and he's able to get back in a car and just be fast like he was this morning in qualifying.
There's no setbacks with him.テつ He just goes forward all the time, and I think as a rookie, the first time in the U.S., he's doing tremendous.

Q.テつ (No microphone.).
SIMON PAGENAUD:テつ No, he wasn't blocking me.テつ He protected the inside, but he had a bad run in Turn 3.テつ Actually at the beginning of the race he was really good on red tires, and I was fine, I was just checking what he was doing, how his tires were going to degrade, and I settled down behind him.テつ But at the end of a stint, he couldn't really pass, but when we went back out on the blacks, Mikhail was really good and I knew he was going to be really good, so as soon as I got behind him and I got that run, he went down the inside, but he went on a brake early, and I fixed to go to the outside and I crossed back to the inside, which surprised him.テつ But as always it was super clean.テつ We didn't touch, or it wasn't even a close call.テつ And it was a late pass, it was aggressive, but it was very clean.
Unfortunately I don't really know what happened with him and Bourdais, but I wish we could have fight this race to the end because it was going to be a great fight with Helio.

Q.テつ I know you don't consider your team an underdog team, but how do you explain the balance of power this weekend and all season really, Coyne's team wins yesterday, Schmidt's team wins today, Carpenter's team has won, four rookies on the podium this weekend.
SIMON PAGENAUD:テつ That's a great question.テつ I think there's a lot of great engineers down the paddock and a lot of great teams that want to win.テつ Ed Carpenter's team for example is a really good one.テつ Obviously the top teams, they're always up there, but Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has been elevated to the next level, which is awesome to see.テつ I think one of the reasons is that this is our third year together.テつ We've developed a package, and we keep improving, which is great.テつ I think all the problems we had in 2012 have now resolved, and it just takes time to get to this level.テつ It's so competitive, and it takes time to get there.テつ But a lot of teams and drivers are able to have glimpses of glory I would say, and it's difficult to be up there consistently.

Q.テつ Even though you had some pretty fierce racing and contact earlier in the race, at the end it seemed like all that was going on behind you.テつ Did you feel that you pretty much had the safest lead on the track at that moment?
SIMON PAGENAUD:テつ Yes, absolutely.テつ But you know, what was difficult is the safety car was going very slow, so it was very difficult to get temperature in the tires, and I was worried because I was the first one on track, so I was worried to slid off, brake too late and make a mistake, so I was the first to experience that, a little bit like rain condition.テつ But my car was good enough, I could really change braking zones, I was out of danger in Turn 1 and I just kept pushing to get the tires up to temp and just keep going.テつ The faster we'd go, the more aggressive I was, the better the car was.

Q.テつ You've had some run‑ins this year with Will.テつ Can you describe how the racing is around him when you are on the street circuit as tight as this as y'all were together early in the going?
SIMON PAGENAUD:テつ Well, I don't think it's any different to any other drivers.テつ You know, obviously Will and I are going to be fighting for the championship.テつ We're both very competitive drivers.テつ We've been fighting for wins and positions since I'm in the series in 2012.テつ It's normal that you're going to get into trouble at some point because we're both on the edge.
It's the same with Dixon.テつ Dixon is around all the time, super clean driver, but at some point something is going to happen like yesterday.テつ It wasn't his fault, it was a racing situation.テつ Same thing with Helio.テつ Will is a very talented driver, very aggressive, but so am I, and I think that's what happens, but that's racing, that's competition, and that's the nature of it, really.

Q.テつ You have four wins now, three on street courses, one on a road course.テつ As we've seen to win the title you need to be able to win everywhere, short ovals, speedways.テつ Where do you think you're at being able to convert one of the next two races?
SIMON PAGENAUD:テつ On the ovals?

Q.テつ Yeah.
SIMON PAGENAUD:テつ It's better.テつ It's a learning curve.テつ I like to compare myself to Helio, for example, because he's the benchmark now on an oval.テつ I was looking at Dario before and Helio who's the benchmark now.テつ Ryan is becoming one of them, too.テつ You're always looking at those guys, how you're going to get to that level.テつ And certainly we didn't race much ovals before, now it's better because there are a bit more, so I'm learning more, and I feel a lot more confident in how to set my car up for me to be comfortable, and I realize it's more about being comfortable than having a fast car, for example.テつ So that's what I'm going to do from now on.
To be honest with you, I thought Texas was really good.テつ I felt super comfortable.テつ No reason not to be competitive at Iowa and Milwaukee.

Q.テつ Simon, you're actually 59 points now behind Will.テつ Do you think you can possibly get to second or third by the next race or two races after?
SIMON PAGENAUD:テつ I don't know.テつ I haven't had much time to look at the points yet.テつ You know, it's important to capitalize on a day like today.テつ We didn't do that yesterday.テつ We had a fast car, and I needed to do what Dixon did last year, win the two races.テつ But unfortunately the conditions didn't work out for me in Race 1.テつ Race 2 it did, so job done.テつ Now we can get to the next race and try to do the same thing.テつ So we're going to work, sit down with the engineer, try to understand what we need to do, and try to approach it the same way I explained on Friday, trying to win the race.

Q.テつ Only your third year in the series, but do you feel like a sense of urgency to win as many races as fast as you can with all these young rookies nipping at your heels?
SIMON PAGENAUD:テつ That's funny.テつ I've never been asked that.テつ No, I don't feel that way, actually.テつ I feel like I'm doing a good job.テつ I feel like I'm very focused on the job here with my team.テつ I feel like we're getting to the level I want to be at, and it's paying off today.テつ Days like today is where I want to be at.テつ This is what I want to do week in and week out.テつ Now it's about repeating.テつ If we repeat, like Marshall said, we should be contenders, no problem.

Q.テつ The championships are typically won by Penske and Ganassi and Andretti.テつ How do you and Schmidt go forward and win the championship, becoming a smaller team that can do this?
SIMON PAGENAUD:テつ I think the advantage of this team is the communication.テつ Everybody is very open minded, very close and it's easy to go from one layer to another to address the problem, and I think that's the advantage of this team.テつ It's very much a race team that gets down to business when it needs to.テつ Obviously compared to a bigger organization, the issue is financial support.テつ But the series the way it is at the moment helps us, helps this team, helps smaller teams to make it to be competitive.テつ Surely today I don't feel like I had a slow car, I actually feel like I had the fastest car.
I think from now on it's understanding what did we do well at the Indy Grand Prix, what did we do well here, and try to improve our whole car and be competitive there, as well.テつ I think that's what we need.

Q.テつ Do you feel like you prefer the environment, a smaller environment of a two‑car team as opposed to say a larger conglomerate environment, say, for example, a four‑car team?
SIMON PAGENAUD:テつ No, I wouldn't say so.テつ I think as a one‑car team it was very focused on me, which worked well, but this year I'm able to extract some more information from Aleshin, from Mikhail, and that really helps, too, so if I had two, three‑‑ I don't know, one or two teammates, it would help.テつ But the difficulty of being on a bigger team isn't to get lost and for the big teams to target which drivers they need to listen to the most.テつ I would think that would be the difficulty.
When I was driving for Peugeot Sport in Europe at the largest we had 10 drivers, and that was the difficulty.テつ But we'll see, see what happens.

Q.テつ I know that you and Mikhail were racing for the win, obviously.テつ Is there a certain comfort level that comes with knowing that you've got a teammate behind you should things start to get more intense, Will in the background?
SIMON PAGENAUD:テつ Well, I've got to say thanks to Mikhail, I think he really helped me for this race.テつ He was a tremendous teammate today.テつ He didn't really try to challenge me on the restarts.テつ I got really good restarts on my own, but he wasn't playing the aggressor Mikhail can be, so I want to thank him because he thought about the team interests, my interest in the championship, and that's very unusual for a teammate to do that.テつ Hats off to him, and for a great run, as well.
You know, it's important to score those points when you can.

Q.テつ Getting back to Mikhail a little bit, for anybody that's spent a little time with him you can't help but like the guy.テつ Is that the way you two initially hit it off?テつ He seems to be such a likable guy, and in a lot of ways he's kind of gotten an undeserved rap for crashing a lot this year from other drivers.
SIMON PAGENAUD:テつ Yeah, it's funny, the first time I met him, we were racing in Europe in Formula Renault back in 2003 and 4.テつ He stayed there, I came over here and we meet again.テつ He's grown a lot.テつ He's a much better driver than he was back then.テつ He's a cool guy.
The first time he came to the U.S., we picked him up with my girlfriend Hailey, and I've got to tell you she warmed him up straightaway, and it worked out really well.テつ We hit it off, and we're good friends, as well, outside the racetrack.テつ He's a very professional guy.テつ He's interesting in many ways.
THE MODERATOR:テつ Simon, congratulations.テつ We'll see you in Pocono.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports



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