John OreoviczAutos, Open-Wheel
SEARS POINT, Calif. -- For the first time since 2005, the Verizon IndyCar Series championship was decided by a landslide.
On the strength of seven poles and five race wins, Simon Pagenaud
overwhelmed the open-wheel competition in 2016 on the way to his first
IndyCar Series title.
The 32-year-old Frenchman delivered on all the potential he has demonstrated throughout his varied racing career to take a commanding victory Sunday in
the GoPro Grand Prix at Sonoma Raceway. He led 76 of 85 laps to best his longtime rival Graham Rahal by 3.25 seconds to put an exclamation point on
his championship season.
Although they didn't factor in Sunday's race, Will Power and Helio
Castroneves completed a 1-2-3 sweep of the IndyCar Series season standings
by Team Penske on the occasion of team owner Roger Penske's 50th season in motorsports.
With a 44-point cushion over Power to start the race, it was going to take something going drastically wrong for Pagenaud to miss out on his first
IndyCar title. Instead, the misfortune befell his teammate, who finished
20th after an electronics glitch caused a clutch failure in the finale.