Photo Credit: citynews.ca
Team Penske Racing’s Simon Pagenaud won 3 races in a row back towards the beginning of this season, winning at Long Beach, Barber, and Indianapolis. This was the 4th time that this has happened among 3 different drivers since Scott Dixon won at Watkins Glen, Nashville, and Mid-Ohio back in 2007. All 4 times that it has happened since then have been since the beginning of the 2012 season in the new generation DW-12 Dallara Indycar chassis.
The last driver to win 3 races in a row prior to this was Will Power, who won at Houston (race 2) in 2013, Fontana in 2013, and then at St. Petersburg to open up the 2014 season. Not only did Power win 3 races in a row on his late-2013 early-2014 run, but he also won 4 out of 6 races on that run as well, winning in Sonoma in 2013 before placing 18th at Baltimore and 12th at Houston (race 1) before going on his dominant 3-race win streak.
Ryan Hunter-Reay also went on a 3-race win streak back in 2012, when he won at Milwaukee, Iowa, and Toronto en route to his 1st ever Indycar championship. The 2 race results before the 3-race win streak for Hunter-Reay were 7th at Belle Isle and 21st at Texas, and the 2 race results after the 3-race win streak for Hunter-Reay were 7th at Edmonton and 24th at Mid-Ohio.
Will Power had another 3-race win streak at Birmingham, Long Beach, and Sao Paulo at the beginning of the 2012 season after placing 7th at St. Petersburg to open up the season and 19th at Kentucky to end the 2011 campaign. After winning 3 races in a row, Power went on to finish in 28th at Indianapolis to end the streak. A finish of 4th place at Belle Isle followed the 28th place finish.
None of the races surrounding any of these streaks described above come close to what Simon Pagenaud did. Not only did he win 3 consecutive Verizon Indycar Series races, but he finished in 2nd place at both races before he started on this streak, giving him 5 consecutive top 2 finished to open up the 2016 Verizon Indycar Series season.
Now, a new streak does come close to what Pagenaud did. In fact, it pretty much matches it. Will Power did not notch another 3-race victory streak to match what Pagenaud did early on this season. However, in the same season as Pagenaud’s dominant top 2 streak, Power actually did the same thing. He won 3 races out of 5 (Detroit, Road America, and Toronto) and placed 2nd at the 2 others in that 5-race span (Iowa and Mid-Ohio).
With such dominant 2016 seasons, Pagenaud and Power have shaped the championship up to be a 2 person race as it looks right now. Pagenaud has led the championship standings since the end of the 2nd race of the season at Phoenix International Raceway back on April 2nd, and Power has closed to within just 58 points of Pagenaud in 2nd place in the championship, even after missing the season opener at St. Petersburg back on March 13th with concussion-like symptoms after a hard wreck in practice.
Can Pagenaud win his 1st Verizon IndyCar Series championship in just his 5th year in the series, or can Power do the unthinkable and rally to win his 2nd title in 3 seasons, delivering Team Penske owner Roger Penske just his 2nd championship since 2006?