Defending series champion Simon Pagenaud has taken his first Verizon IndyCar Series win of 2017, handing him the points lead. This is Pagenaud’s first IndyCar win on an oval.
The Team Penske driver won Saturday night’s Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix at Phoenix Raceway in Phoenix after starting fifth.
Pagenaud’s teammate Helio Castroneves led the field away for the first of 250 laps Saturday afternoon having taken his second pole of the season.
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However, the first yellow of the race flew before the field had even completed Lap 1 as Mikhail Aleshin spun in Turn 1, triggering a five-car wreck.
It wasn’t until Lap 22 that the track had been cleared of debris and Castroneves could lead the field back to green.
Castroneves led a Team Penske 1-2-3-4 until the first round of green-flag stops around Lap 70. Once they were over, Castroneves found himself behind teammate Will Power for the lead.
The second round of stops started shortly after Lap 130 but the Team Penske drivers of Pagenaud, Power and Castroneves were the only three who were left on the lead lap when the second caution of the race flew after Takuma Sato hit the Turn 4 wall.
Pagenaud had to pit under caution and five cars were on the lead lap when they went back to green: The four Team Penske cars and JR Hildebrand.
However, Josef Newgarden was unable to make it to the end of the race after making contact with Ryan Hunter-Reay with 28 laps left to go.
Unchallenged thanks to lapped traffic between himself and Power, Pagenaud cruised to take home his first win of the season. Hildebrand – racing with a broken hand – pressured Power for second in the closing laps but could not find a way by.