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article imageINDYCAR: Disappointment turns to elation for Pagenaud in Houston

By John Duarte     Jun 30, 2014 in Sports
Houston - For the second-consecutive day, two rookies were on the podium at the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston, but it was Simon Pagenaud's nearly perfect drive that won the second race of the Verizon IndyCar Series Texas doubleheader.
Pagenaud was trying to fend off the disappointment he experienced in Race 1 of the Grand Prix of Houston on Saturday, when he had started on the pole but had a horrible race and finished way back in the field.
Pagenaud's fortunes turned around for Race 2. He was flawless in his 90 laps of the temporary street circuit in Houston to drive off with his second win of the IndyCar season.
“We had such a fast car this weekend,” said Pagenaud, who admitted to feeling “a little faint” in the oppressive heat and humidity on Sunday. “Awesome race. The car was just beautiful.”
The win felt extra special for Pagenaud, who felt he had the car to beat a day earlier. He was the best in qualifying, but battled braking issues and got caught in a crash halfway through the race that put him way off the pace. Pagenaud, although still running, ended up 16th in Race 1, six laps behind the winner.
“I was so disappointed Saturday because we had such a fast car,” said Pagenaud.
He more than made up for it on Sunday. This time starting third, Pagenaud led for 43 of the race's 90 laps, including the last 42. He clocked the fastest lap of the race, completing the 1.634-mile circuit in just under one minute at an average of 98.2 miles per hour. He was ahead of teammate Mikhail Aleshin by more than seven seconds at the finish line.
IndyCar rookie Aleshin finished second in the race, with another rookie Jack Hawksworth in third. Aleshin, the first Russian driver to compete in IndyCar praised his pit crew for keeping him on pace with the leaders. He said it was tense in the closing stages when he started losing tire pressure.
“I was really lucky to finish, actually,” said an elated Aleshin. “I don't have enough English words to thank the team. I can't really explain my feeling. I just have so much emotion.”
For Hawksworth, a miserable qualifying placed him last on the grid at the start but he worked his way through the field. Hawksworth admitted it's been a rough first year in IndyCar racing.
“We've been fast sometimes and just not quite made it happen,” he said. “We've not quite put it together and today we did.”
Will Power continues to lead the Verizon IndyCar Series standings. Helio Castroneves is second, 39 points behind the leader, with Ryan Hunter-Reay just two points further back, in third.
The Verizon IndyCar Series schedule returns to track racing on July 6, 2014, with the Pocono IndyCar 500 on the triangle-shaped Pocono Raceway, in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.
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