Frenchman raced in three IndyCar events last season
After pulling substitute duty for Dreyer and Reinbold Racing and HVM Racing during last year’s campaign, French driver Simon Pagenaud has earned his first full-time ride in open-wheel racing since the final days of Champ Car. Pagenaud was officially confirmed as the new driver for Sam Schmidt Motorsports’ IZOD IndyCar Series operation today.
In 2007, Pagenaud had a solid rookie season with Team Australia, garnering an 8th place finish in the Champ Car World Series standings. But when the CCWS went away following open-wheel unification the next year, Pagenaud headed for sports cars and claimed the 2010 LMP/LMP2 class championship in the American Le Mans Series with teammate David Brabham.
But in 2011, Pagenaud migrated back to open-wheel, suiting up for DRR at Barber Motorsports Park to replace an injured Ana Beatriz and again at Mid-Ohio after Justin Wilson suffered his season-ending back injury during practice there. He also stepped in to help HVM at Infineon Raceway when Simona de Silvestro ran into issues with U.S. Customs while trying to return from her native country of Switzerland.
In all, Pagenaud finished 8th at Barber, 13th at Mid-Ohio and 15th at Sonoma — advancing an average of nine spots from his starting position over those events.