After clearly claiming that the team was not interested in running a fourth car in the Verizon IndyCar Series, Team Penske announced this morning that former Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver Simon Pagenaud has singed a multi-year contract with the team beginning with the 2015 season. So much for the rumors of Pagenaud going to Andretti, or that one of the other Penske drivers is on the way out.
“Simon Pagenaud is a very talented, focused and determined driver. We know how tough he has been to compete with over the last few seasons and we are very happy to welcome him to Team Penske starting in 2015. With Simon coming on board to join Will, Helio (Castroneves) and Juan (Montoya), we feel we have four drivers very capable of winning on any given weekend and four guys who are legitimate championship contenders.” — Roger Penske
And with that, the rest of the IndyCar field just crapped their fire suits. Pagenaud was a strong talent even in his rookie year in the Champ Car World Series. Moving from open-wheel cars to prototype sports cars, Simon would win the American Le Mans Series LMP1 Championship in 2010. In 2011, he returned to Indy car racing part-time with Dryer & Reinbold Racing and HVM Racing. He joined the Schmidt Peterson Motorsport operation in 2012 and things really started to take off. In the past two seasons, Simon has four wins including nine top-five finishes in 2014. It’s not really a surprise that The Captain has had an eye on Mr. Pagenaud.
“Getting a chance to race for Team Penske is almost like a dream to me. I have always admired the team and everything that Roger Penske has accomplished in racing. I am so excited to become a part of Team Penske and I can’t wait for the 2015 season to start.” — Simon Pagenaud
Now the big question that I know is on everyone’s mind, how many fights will Juan and Helio have to break up between Simon and Will? Things got pretty ugly this past season between the two, but now that they’re teammates, hopefully they can come to terms with each other. Although I still think Will would put him in the tire barriers if it meant keeping a podium position.