The 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season marked the sixth consecutive season for Simon Pagenaud competing for Team Penske. While the season certainly had its twists and turns for Pagenaud and the No. 22 Menards Chevrolet team as it adapted to the new aeroscreen on the car design, it marked a year of growth and perseverance.
While preparing for the first scheduled race of 2020 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. in March, Pagenaud and the rest of the INDYCAR field learned that the opening race, and eventually the start of the season, would be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After several months of “down time” and competing against other series drivers through the virtual world of iRacing, Pagenaud was definitely ready to return to his normal seat in the No. 22 Dallara/Chevrolet once the racing season resumed in June. Starting third in the first race of the year at Texas Motor Speedway, Pagenaud and the No. 22 team battled hard throughout the 200-lap event to finish second.
A few weeks later, the series visited the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course for the GMR Grand Prix of Indianapolis during the Fourth of July weekend. Great work in the pits by the No. 22 crew and some deft driving by Pagenaud saw the Menards Chevy bring home a third-place finish.
Following a great start with back-to-back podium finishes to open the season, Pagenaud and the team were not able to build on the momentum during the doubleheader weekend at Road America, securing posting results of 12th and 13th on consecutive days of racing at Elkhart Lake, Wis.
Determined to get the season back on track, Pagenaud focused his attention on the Iowa Speedway shot oval in mid July. The Frenchman turned in a remarkable performance in the opening race of the weekend driving the No. 22 Chevrolet from last to first. Pagenaud passed every car on track to capture his 11th win for Team Penske and his 15th career NTT INDYCAR SERIES victory.
As schedule changes continued over the course of the 2020 season due to the pandemic, the 104th running of the Indianapolis 500 shifted from its traditional. Memorial Day weekend date to August and the event was held without fans in attendance. Pagenaud, the defending Indy 500 champion, was not able to harness the speed from the previous season at Indy as the Menards Chevy qualified 25th and finished 22nd.
Over the balance of the 2020 season, Pagenaud secured three additional top-10 finishes but the No. 22 team was not able to fight for the series championship.
Appropriately ending the season were it was slated to begin - on the streets of St. Pete - Pagenaud qualified 12th the 100-lap Firestone Grand Prix in October and improved to sixth to close out the year on a positive note.
Following a solid season, Pagenaud finished eighth in the final NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship standings and the 2016 series champ is already energized about his opportunities to rebound with more wins and a title run in 2021 with Team Penske.
“I’m really proud of the No. 22 Menards Dallara/Chevrolet team," said Pagenaud looking back on 2020. "They worked so hard all year. Things didn’t always go our way but we learned a lot this season. It was the first season with the new aeroscreen and we found some success with a win and some podium finishes. These guys always give their all and I am just thankful to have such a great team behind me. We’re ready for 2021 already and can’t wait to get back on track.”