Pagenaud wins Race 2 in Houston
Houston, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports claimed its first ever 1-2 finish in the IndyCar Series in Sunday's Race 2 of the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston weekend doubleheader.
Simon Pagenaud captured his second win of the season, while his rookie teammate, Mikhail Aleshin, finished a career-best second.
In this 90-lap race, run in hot and humid conditions at Houston's NRG Park, Helio Castroneves from Team Penske started on the pole and led 47 of the first 48 laps, but Pagenaud overtook Castroneves for the top spot on lap 49. Pagenaud had led one circuit earlier during a round of green-flag pit stops.
Later on that same lap, Castroneves tried to catch Pagenaud but bumped into Sebastien Bourdais and then made contact with the wall near turn 6, ending his race.
Pagenaud went on to lead the final 42 laps and crossed the finish line 7.2622 seconds ahead of Aleshin. The Frenchman scored his first win of the season in the May 10 inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis, held on Indianapolis Motor Speedway's road course.
In Saturday's rain-soaked Race 1 in Houston, Pagenaud started on the pole but ended up finishing six laps behind in 16th after he struggled with brake issues in the early going and then was involved in a multi-car crash during the mid-stages.
"Awesome race," said Pagenaud, who won for the fourth time in his IndyCar career. "The car was just beautiful. Awesome braking. Awesome traction. Awesome grip. What else could you expect as a driver. That's why I was so disappointed yesterday."
Aleshin's race on Saturday ended on lap 33 when he made contact with Takuma Sato and crashed into the turn 6 barrier. The Russian finished last in the 23- car field.
"I can't really explain my feeling. I just have so much emotion," Aleshin said after his runner-up finish in Race 2. "I had a flat tire on my car in the last few laps. I was really lucky to finish, actually. I'm very happy. The team did am amazing job. I don't have enough English words to thank the team for that."
Rookie Jack Hawksworth earned his first career podium finish in IndyCar with a third-place run, while Charlie Kimball took the fourth spot. Bourdais suffered a broken front wing during his incident with Castroneves but rebounded for a fifth-place result.
Castroneves wound up finishing 21st, as he lost an opportunity to narrow the points gap between him and leader Will Power, his teammate.
"When I lost the lead with Pagenaud, I was trying to pass him, but I had no idea [Bourdais] was there," Castroneves said. "When I'm attacking, I can't have eyes in the back of my head. It's absolutely ridiculous when the guy has to put the car over there. But anyway it's the rules of traffic...I'm upset because we had a great car. There were  laps to go, and I wasn't panicking. It is what it is, and I'll move on and see what happens."
Power started 18th for the second day in a row but had moved up to third before he sustained a broken rear suspension in the closing laps. He limped across the line in 11th. Power's point advantage over Castroneves is now 39, the same margin between the two entering the Houston doubleheader.
"We were in position for a good day, considering where we had qualified," Power said. "We were going to maximize our points, but we had a parts malfunction with two laps to go. We fought really hard all day with nothing to show for it."
Ryan Hunter-Reay, Juan Pablo Montoya, Ryan Briscoe, Marco Andretti and Tony Kanaan finished sixth through 10th, respectively.
One day after scoring his first career victory in IndyCar, rookie Carlos Huertas completed just two laps before he experienced an electrical issue, as he stalled on the track. Huertas finished last.
06/29 20:57:23 ET