CHEVROLET RACING IN NTT INDYCAR SERIES
FIRESTONE GRAND PRIX OF ST. PETERSBURG
STREETS OF ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA
POST RACE RECAP
APRIL 25, 2021
JOSEF NEWGARDEN AND SIMON PAGENAUD PUT CHEVY ON PODIUM ON THE STREETS OF ST. PETERSBURG
CHEVROLET DRIVERS CAPTURE SEVEN OF TOP-12 FINISHERS
ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA (April 25, 2021) – Chevrolet drivers captured two steps on the podium in Race 2 of the NTT INDYCAR Series season, and scored seven of the top-12 finishers on the challenging street course in St; Petersburg, Florida.
Josef Newgarden was looking for a three peat on the Streets of St. Petersburg, but had to settle for runner-up. The two-time NTT INDYCAR Series champion and two-time winner at St. Petersburg needed a strong race to start his run for another title. With a first-lap accident at Barber, a solid podium finish was just what he needed to get his season back in championship form.
Simon Pagenaud, driving the No. 22 Menards/Australia Gold Team Penske Chevrolet, had a very steady race that netted him a third place finish and another solid points day.
Will Power, No. 12 Verizon 5G Team Penske Chevrolet, recovered from a disappointing qualifying effort that put him 20th on the grid. The former Series’ champion and Indianapolis 500 winner marched his way to eighth in the finishing order.
Rinus VeeKay, No. 21 Sonax Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, continues to take lessons learned from his rookie year and apply them to his second full-time season. He battled all day in the top-half of the field and brought home a solid ninth place in the final finishing order/
It looked like a promising hometown race for four-time Series’ champion Sebastien Bourdais, but first lap contact as well as other issues relegated him to 10th in the final order.
Rookie-of-the-Year contender Scott McLaughlin, No. 3 DEX Imaging Team Penske Chevrolet, had another strong showing for his first INDYCAR street race. He ran competitively in the top-15 for virtually the entire 100-lap race and brought home an 11th place finish.
Felix Rosenqvist, No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet, had a strong showing in only his second race with the team. His 12th place finish gives him a solid foundation to build on as the season progresses.
Colton Herta was the race winner.
Next on the schedule is the doubleheader on April 30-May 1 at Texas Motor Speedway.
TEAM CHEVY FINISHERS:
- Josef Newgarden, No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske
- Simon Pagenaud, No. 22 Menards/Australian Gold Team Penske
- Will Power, No. 12 Verizon 5G Team Penske
- Rinus VeeKay, No. 21 Sonax/Autogeek Ed Carpenter Racing
- Sebastien Bourdais, No. 14 ROKiT AJ Foyt Racing
- Scott McLaughlin, No. 3 Dex Imaging Team Penske
- Felix Rosenqvist, No. 7 Vuse Arrow McLaren SP
- Conor Daly, No. 20 U.S. Air Force Ed Carpenter Racing
- Pato O’Ward, No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP
- Dalton Kellett, No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA AJ Foyt Racing
- Max Chilton, No. 59 Gallagher Carlin
JOSEF NEWGARDEN, NO. 2 HITACHI TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET – Finished 2nd
IT GOT A BIT CLOSE AT THE END. TALK US THROUGH THE IDEA THAT YOU KNEW YOU WERE GOING TO HAVE TO PUT ON THE REDS AT THE END. WHAT WAS YOUR THINKING GOING INTO THAT FINAL STINT?
“Well, we lost a little too much ground in that second stint, really; to capitalize with the reds. And then we had the caution, which almost gifted us another chance. And I just didn’t want to over-extend myself today. I felt like I was close to an opportunity, but Colton (Herta, race winner) was really good. He was doing a great job on the restarts. It was tough to get tire temps. So, I pushed really hard right there in those two initial restarts. I didn’t have quite the runs I needed, so I didn’t want to risk anything. But a good day. I’m really happy with Chevy’s performance and thankful for all their work; and to have Hitachi on and get a podium is really nice here to start our year off. So, congrats to Colton. It was a great rebound for both of us. I feel bad about what happened last week, so I’m really happy that he got back on it today and had a very deserved victory. I wish we could have fought him a little bit more. I think we were just lacking a little bit.”
GREAT REBOUND FROM LAST WEEK. WAS THAT PART OF THE IDEA ABOUT NOT OVER-EXTENDING AND WHAT YOU WERE THINKING?
“Yeah, if I have an opportunity I’m going to go for the win. I was very close to having just enough of that opportunity. I think I was just a little shy of it. So, I didn’t want to force something that wasn’t there today. It’s not the day to do that. But I’m happy with the podium. We obviously want to win but we’re on the board now.
“I was close but I think he (Colton Herta) definitely had us covered. We had a good opportunity with those cautions bringing us back into the mix. I just didn’t want to over extend myself if the opportunity wasn’t perfect. And I didn’t feel like it wasn’t the perfect opportunity to make the pass. I looked for it, it just wasn’t there. Podium is pretty nice. Would have liked to have that third win, but we are back in the war and that’s what we needed after last week.”
SIMON PAGENAUD, NO. 22 MENARDS/AUSTRALIAN GOLD TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET – Finished 3rd
YOU’VE GOT A BEAUTIFUL NEW GOLD LIVERY AND ELVIS-STYLE GLASSES, AND YOU END UP ON THE PODIUM. THAT MUST HAVE BEEN THE IDEA, RIGHT?
“Yes, Australian Gold. I’m glad we had some sunglasses and sunscreen this weekend. It was a hot race. But we’re very happy with the end.”
JOSEF NEWGARDEN HAD TO USE THE REDS. YOU HAD A CHOICE AND PUT THEM ON. DO YOU THINK ULTIMATELY THAT WAS RIGHT IN THE END?
“Yeah, it was great strategy. We really had a shot on restarts, but it was too slippery on the inside to go for it. I noticed it when I tried to pass Jack (Harvey). But really when I lost the race was at the beginning of the first stint but overall, I think it was a great performance by the No. 22 Chevy Australian Gold team. That was a great performance. I think on street courses we could be very strong. I can’t wait for the oval, especially Indy and Texas.”
IT WASN’T THAT LONG AGO THAT YOU WERE ON THE PODIUM, BUT THIS IS THE FIRST TIME IN 2021
“Yeah, we finished really well here. I think we finished sixth last year. And then we made some more improvement over the winter. The whole team is giving us a lot of support to give us the best cars out there. So, thanks to them and thanks to Chevy for giving us all the horsepower we need. I’m excited about the podium. Very good street course run. Awesome. Very happy all weekend. I couldn’t ask for a better car. Great strategy. Fantastic looking car. It made social media for sure. Australian Gold is a new partner for Menards. I hope We get to see that gold car more often.”
WILL POWER, NO. 12 VERIZON 5G TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, FINISHED 8TH AFTER STARTING 20TH:
“Yeah, really solid day for us to get up there to P8. It was inside the top 10 and that was our goal in starting the race. Obviously qualifying was pretty disappointing, but yeah, solid pit stops today. We tried to catch a few yellows and finish in the top five but it just didn’t work out. We passed a lot of cars on track and the car did really well, so we were very happy to get the Verizon 5G Chevy in the top 10. Really good day.”
RINUS VEEKAY, NO. 21 SONAX/AUTOGEEK CHEVROLET – FINISHED 9TH
“So, a pretty tough day here in the office. But you know, a Top 10, P9. I had a hard lock-up on the red tires, which wasn’t ideal. But again, I learned so much. A good points day, but not an easy day at the office. Not much to complain about. It was very, very tough, obviously. But we survived, and I’m fully ready for Texas next weekend.”
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS, NO. 14 ROKIT AJ FOYT RACING CHEVROLET, FINISHED 10TH: “Not the best of day here in St. Pete for round two for the INDYCAR Series. Our No. 14 ROKIT Chevrolet suffered some damage when I misjudged the gap between myself and Simon (Pagenaud) and the race was a long drive from there. We had some not-so-great sequences with a few hiccups in the pits and then I made some mistakes. So unfortunately started fifth and finished 10th and it was not what we were looking for today, but we got some points and we brought it home.”
SCOTT MCLAUGHLIN, NO. 3 DEX IMAGING TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, FINISHED 11TH: “Yeah, overall a good day for us in the DEX Imaging Chevy. It was a full-on race, very hot, very humid and one of the most physical races I have ever done. Solid race from our end and I was probably a little bit too safe at the start. I was just trying to keep my front wing on. It was pretty forceful out there and a lot of the veterans around me were just using a bit more of their experience on colder tires. We got around in the first stint and we pitted at the right time and we were actually on a very alternative strategy there, that could have almost put us in the lead. Unfortunately there was a couple of spinners towards the middle of that race. And our team reacted and we pitted and we did the right thing on that strategy, just unfortunately there was no yellow. We didn’t use the speed we had in the clear air to really get going, but for me right now its continuously finishing races. Finishing P 11 is a great run for us and we will continue to build on that and hopefully come the end of the year we will be bigger, better and stronger. Just want to thank DEX Imaging for their support and am excited for the next few races.”
FELIX ROSENQVIST, NO. 7 VUSE ARROW MCLAREN SP CHEVROLET – FINISHED 12TH
“I just finished a long race here at St. Pete. I thought it was okay. It wasn’t really anything fantastic. We’re going to have to do some bigger things on the car to compete at the front. We could follow the field but couldn’t really get forward. It’s so tight in the field; if you don’t have that little extra it’s kind of hard to move forward. But it feels good to finish the race and get some points and move on to Texas where I think we have a good chance to get some good points at those two races.”
NEWGARDEN AND PAGENAUD ZOOM CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
THE MODERATOR: Thanks for joining us today here for our Firestone Grand Prix of St. Pete post-race press conference. We’ve been joined by our second- and third-place finishers, Josef Newgarden, driver of the No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet, and Simon Pagenaud, driver of the No. 22 Menard’s Australian Gold Team Penske Chevrolet, as well.
Gentlemen, thanks for joining us. Josef, we’ll start with you. A chance to get three back-to-back to back wins, finished second, obviously that’s disappointing, but tell us about your day. You had a good chance to get that third win.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, just a little short today on finding that Victory Lane one more time. Kind of sad now that I think about it. It would have been nice to put three in a row together. That would have been pretty sweet. But it was important for us to get on the board. I said we needed to do that last weekend. We didn’t accomplish that. But a good bounceback by the entire crew and the team, and to get some good points is really what we needed today, so we accomplished that.
Now we can get our season off the ground, get going to Texas and feeling good about things. But pretty happy about what we put together.
I think team Chevy did a really nice job doing their homework, and I think us as a group we put in a lot of effort this off-season and found some good pace. We were in the mix today without a doubt. We were in the fight, just came up a little bit short. But I think a lot of the work from all the people at Team Penske is paying off, and it’s good to get a podium finish for team Chevy and Hitachi.
THE MODERATOR: Simon, disappointing weekend for you last week at Barber, but great finish for you on the podium with your very fancy Australian Gold Team Penske Chevrolet. Talk about your day.
SIMON PAGENAUD: Yeah, first of all, great weekend, a gold livery that made a lot of headlines. So thanks to Team Penske, Australian Gold for coming along, and giving it a bit of joy like that with livery is exactly what racing is about. It was a lot of fun. We had some special glasses, as well, just to note.
But overall great performance all weekend. Thanks to the whole team for working on the street course package as hard as it did with team Chevy, and overall great performance. I think very pleased with third place. It’s a really good hope for the championship knowing how good we’re going to be on oval.
Q. After last week’s crash you sounded not only disappointed for yourself but also that you got some of the other title contenders involved in it like Colton. In some ways did you kind of feel good that both you and him were able to fight it out today, because you both kind of needed a rebound from last week?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, definitely. I was really pleased for Colton, for him to have a solid day. I think him and his crew were certainly deserving of the victory. They were very strong. Just a touch better than us I would say on the day today. They worked hard, and it was nice to get them get a bounceback event, too. They got caught up in the mess last week through no fault of their own. I felt pretty bad. It was just one of those things. It’s tough to have a bad weekend, and when you affect others it makes it double tough.
Yeah, pleased for both of us, I guess, but we can get our season started now and feel pretty good about things, and was happy to have a nice little battle with Colton. I think we had a good little race there at the end. It’ll be fun to do that hopefully a couple more times this season.
Q. This is the middle weekend of four races in a 14-day period. Now we go to Texas for a double-header. How do you guys feel about — I guess there’s no rest for the wicked?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: No, definitely not. It’s going to be flat out. We’ve got to be on it here. We knew we were going to rattle through four races pretty quickly and then when you really count May into that, you’re getting through a third of the season pretty fast.
We’ll know where we’re at pretty solidly in this championship hopefully by the time we get to June, but we need to stay focused and get through this next period pretty quickly with the best results possible.
Q. Simon, your thoughts?
SIMON PAGENAUD: Yeah, it’s obviously a hard day. It’s been two physical races. The cars are faster than ever. Definitely feels like it’s very important to be at a high fitness level, and personally very happy with it. I think it’s the best I’ve ever had.
Very excited about the whole season. I’m glad — we got in a very good groove with the 22 team, so I look forward to the next few races coming up, which we know are going to be strong for us.
Q. A lot of drivers are saying this is a very physical weekend; they seem very exhausted after the race today. I’m wondering how both of you are feeling and why today might have been difficult.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I would say it was probably the heat today. For me, like I felt pretty good in the car physically, but I was really — I was pretty hot. Like this morning I was really, really warm.
Probably not acclimated as well to the heat right now, but yeah, that was the biggest thing for me. I thought it was really humid today. Temperature-wise it wasn’t that hot. I think about 80 degrees. That’s not really that tough. But when you add 90 percent humidity, it definitely changes the effect, so you’ve got to make sure you’re hydrated really well and you’re not overheating because physical exhaustion is one thing but then heat exhaustion is a different one. Yeah, that’s what’s made it tough.
It’s funny, I got through warmup, and I’m like, man, this is going to be a really hard day. Then you get into the race and you’re like, you know what, it’s going to be fine, and you end up getting through it just fine, as always.
I don’t know about Simon, though. He looked pretty worn out, so I’m worried about him for a couple of events. I’m messing with him.
SIMON PAGENAUD: It’s actually quite interesting because I noticed Colton lying down and Josef was next to him pouring water on his face. I felt fantastic. I mean, obviously my fitness program, and I’m being serious, is much better than Josef’s, and I must say I have a lot of confidence right now because if you’re fresh then we can race again. Take that. Come on, come back.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Just look at the lap times at the end. That tells the story to me for fitness.
SIMON PAGENAUD: Well, yeah, look at the lap times at the end. Exactly.
Q. So both of you guys, it’s your peak physical condition that kept you in shape for today?
SIMON PAGENAUD: Absolutely. I feel fantastic.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, it’s amazing. You know, we all went through — all the drivers, we went through a performance analysis, and I couldn’t believe how well that I tested compared to the rest of the team. I mean, it’s just — my fitness level is so high right now, and the confidence is through the roof at the moment. While everyone is falling on the floor, I’m so ready for these exhausting races.
Q. Just double checking, Colton was or was not laying down on the ground having water poured —
SIMON PAGENAUD: You’ll have to ask him. You’ll have to ask him.
Q. Simon, can you give us a bit of an overview of Barber and what happened there and if today kind of feels like maybe a bounceback performance or things felt much better today or is your street course package so different to Barber that the two really aren’t relevant to each other?
SIMON PAGENAUD: Yeah, I think the street course package is very satisfying. I think we’ve made big improvements, especially since we were here last year. We had a good understanding what we needed from the car, and we found a really good package for my style. So very excited about street course racing.
On the road course, yeah, we need to keep digging, keep finding some performance. Not fully happy there, and I think this is probably our weakness compared to how good we’re going to be on oval, which I think is going to be our most strength — our biggest strength this year. So that’s where we’re at.
Q. For both of you, Colton has really kind of emerged quickly on the kind of INDYCAR scene and really he’s been kind of the stand-out guy at Andretti since he came in and he’s got more wins since Alexander Rossi since he came into INDYCAR. Do you see Colton as sort of the biggest contender from Andretti now?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I would say so. I don’t want to discount someone like Rossi, either. I think Alex is certainly capable of being in that mix every weekend, so I think it would be unwise to discount him, but I think Herta is without a doubt their — to me he seems like the top gun over there.
He’s so young; he started, whatever it was, I think three years ago, but he’s still so young right now, so he’s got a lot of runway, pretty level-headed, has a great crew around him. I know his engineer. He was my first engineer. He’s got a great team around him. Seems to work well with his dad. I was watching his dad this weekend and how proud he was of him when he was getting in the car, and they just seem like they have good chemistry.
Yeah, I think they’ll be in the mix without a doubt all year, but like I said, I wouldn’t discount some of the other boys over at Andretti. I think they have some other capable drivers, too, and not just Herta.
Q. Any thoughts on that, Simon?
SIMON PAGENAUD: Yeah, I think he’s fantastic. He’s a great driver. He’s really young, so he’s got a lot of room to improve still, which is impressive.
But I see a lot of young guys coming up and having just as much talent and potential in the future, being championship contenders, as well. The series is at its highest level right now. It’s just incredible to see the talents and the personalities, as well. Yeah, look forward to the future.
Q. Josef, you’ve been incredibly fast all weekend; on those restarts at the end, how much were you thinking championship versus win?
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Definitely both. You know, it was kind of serendipitous that it was me and Colton there at the end. I definitely appreciated that personally that we were kind of bouncing back together here after last weekend’s difficulty. But I was pushing him. I mean, look, if he gave me an opportunity to win the race, I was going to take it, as we all should. It just wasn’t quite there.
I really had gotten a second chance at it. If those cautions didn’t come out, I think Colton was going to kind of walk us. He was just better today. He had a little bit on us for sure. But with that fresh opportunity with the two cautions, I pushed as hard as I could directly after them. I mean, I was really looking for a clear, clear opening, and I was close. It was very close to being open there, but it just wasn’t quite enough.
Yeah, I was looking for the win, but certainly tempering things trying to make sure we had a solid day.
Q. Simon, with this third place are you going to run that gold livery all the time now?
SIMON PAGENAUD: Well, it certainly has a lot of attention this weekend for great reasons. I think it was awesome to see something new like that, something that hasn’t been seen in a while. It’s great to see Australian Gold join us, same with Menard’s. I hope we get them back. I hope they stay and I hope we have more races with that car.
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