Simon Pagenaud did everything he could to make it back-to-back titles on Sunday at Sonoma Raceway as he took his second consecutive victory at the circuit, but Josef Newgarden’s second place ensured the American took the championship and not the Frenchman.
Taking an aggressive four-stop strategy and making it work took Pagenaud to the front of the field, but with Newgarden shadowing him in the closing stages, there was nothing he could do, and ultimately across the season he ended up thirteen points shy, but he was still happy that a Team Penske driver could clinch the title.
All four Team Penske drivers came into Sonoma with a chance of the championship, but only Pagenaud made the choice to take four steps, leaving the other three in his wake as well as Scott Dixon, who he jumped ahead of in the championship thanks to his victory.
“I want to thank everybody on the DXC Technology Chevrolet team today,” said Pagenaud. “It was a phenomenal performance, I think, all weekend.
“I want to congratulate Josef (Newgarden), of course, and Team Penske. I think our team this weekend and the whole season showed how strong everybody is at Team Penske. Back-to-back champions. It’s phenomenal. Great testament to a great team spirit and I’m very happy for him. He deserves it.
“We did what we had to do. We tried. We won the race; it wasn’t enough. It’s a whole championship. You’ve got to be strong on every race and I guess Josef was a little stronger this year so we’ll come back. Thirteen points (behind).
“Next year we’ll come back and give him a hell of a competition again.”