HOUSTON (AP) Michael Andretti said Friday he is interested in adding Simon Pagenaud to his race team. The team owner did not reveal if he would put the Frenchman in a fifth car at Andretti Autosport.
”We’d love to have him, but we’re a long ways away from something,” Andretti told The Associated Press. ”He’s one of the top guys out here, and he’s a really good guy, too. He’d fit in great with our team.”
Andretti currently fields four full-time IndyCar teams for Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe and Carlos Munoz. The team expanded to five cars with Kurt Busch for the Indianapolis 500.
Pagenaud is in a contract year with Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports, the team he joined when he made the full-time move to IndyCar in 2012. He heads into this weekend’s doubleheader in Houston ranked fourth in the championship race with one victory this year.
Pagenaud said he is flattered by the Andretti interest.
”It’s great to hear and I feel very honored, it gives me confidence that I am doing a good job,” Pagenaud told AP between practice sessions. ”You have job security when you are in that position because you know there’s interest in you, people have noticed the job you are doing.”
Although he said he would like to make a decision on his future sooner rather than later, he doesn’t want to lose focus on the championship race.
Andretti this year moved from Chevrolet back to Honda, and Pagenaud has a long relationship with the Japanese manufacturer. But, Pagenaud was coy on if it was a two-team race between Andretti and Schmidt to keep him in a Honda next year.
”We’ll see what happens next,” he smiled.
Chip Ganassi Racing and Team Penske, considered the two top organizations in IndyCar, are both Chevy teams.