Detroit, MI (Sports Network) - Simon Pagenaud became a first-time winner in the IndyCar Series by taking Sunday's second race in a weekend doubleheader at Detroit's Belle Isle Park.
Pagenaud, who earned rookie of the year honors in the series last year, survived a crash-filled 70-lap event that featured six cautions in the first half, including a big pileup involving 10 drivers. The Frenchman grabbed the lead on lap 49 and took command from there. He crossed the finish line 5.6 seconds ahead of James Jakes.
Pagenaud's first victory came in his 38th start. He joined James Hinchcliffe and Takuma Sato as those first-time winners in the series this season.
"It's unbelievable," a jubilant Pagenaud said in victory lane. "I don't know how we did it. The car was mega fast, and the team did a fantastic job. I certainly had more horsepower than anyone else out there right now. Man, it's a great feeling. One I hope of more to come."
His previous best finish in the series was second, which came in April 2012 on the streets of Long Beach, Calif. This is his second season with Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports. He finished fifth in the point standings last year.
"(Pagenaud) was driving on a mission," team co-owner Sam Schmidt said. "He wanted this really bad."
This was the first IndyCar victory for Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports
IndyCar held its first of three doubleheader weekends this season in Detroit. Toronto is scheduled for July 13-14, and Houston's Reliant Park, which is a new venue on the series' schedule, is slated for Oct. 5-6.
Mike Conway won Saturday's first race on this 2.36-mile, 13-turn street circuit. Earlier that day, Conway also claimed the pole position for race 2.
Pagenaud finished 12th in race 1. Starting sixth in Sunday's event, Pagenaud took the lead for good with 12 laps to go when Jakes pitted from the top spot. But Jakes moved back into contention during the final laps before Pagenaud managed to pull away.
"It was quite emotional in the car the last two laps," Pagenaud said. "It was difficult to stay focused. I kept saying, 'Keep pushing, keep pushing, don't lift.' It worked out. When I crossed the finish line, it was a sweet moment."
Jakes' second-place run marked his career-best finish in the series. He held off Conway for the runner-up position by just 0.4 seconds.
"It was entertaining, that's for sure," Jakes said. "We had Mike breathing down our neck, but we were able to save a couple 'push to passes,' and that's what kept us in second position."
Conway continued his stellar weekend in Detroit by leading the most laps in race 2 with 31. He had an opportunity to collect a $50,000 bonus had he won both events here this weekend.
"Thanks to (Dale Coyne Racing) for giving me the opportunity this weekend," Conway said. "First and third, I couldn't imagine that really coming into this weekend. Hopefully, there's some more races for me. I think maybe Toronto. (Team owner) Dale (Coyne) is looking at doing that. That should be a lot of fun, another doubleheader. I can't wait for that now."
Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti finished fourth and fifth, respectively. Marco Andretti took the sixth spot, followed by Charlie Kimball and Helio Castroneves. Graham Rahal and Sebastian Saavedra completed the top-10.
Will Power finished 20th after he was one of the drivers involved in the 10- car crash on lap 28. The pileup occurred after Sebastien Bourdais hit Power and spun him around.
The first caution came on the opening lap when A.J. Allmendinger, who is Power and Castroneves' teammates at Team Penske, made contact with the wall in turn 2. Allmendinger also failed to complete a lap in race 1 when he wrecked as well. He finished last in the 25-car field for both events.
"It was just a huge mistake by me again," Allmendinger admitted. "I don't know what to say. I apologize to (team owner) Roger (Penske) and everybody at Team Penske. It's embarrassing to me."
Andretti moved into a points tie with Castroneves. Ryan Hunter-Reay, the defending series champion, fell 15 points out of the lead following his 18th- place finish. Castroneves held a three-point lead after his fifth-place run in Saturday's race.
06/02 21:21:25 ET