Pagenaud, who has won three times on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, surged from 20th to second in the course of a two hour race that went from wet to dry to semi-wet to fully wet across its two hour duration.
“Oh my God, that was nuts!” said the 2016 IndyCar champion and 2019 Indy 500 winner. “The weather… we should have a button just to spray some water on the track, I think, because the racing was phenomenal.
“Strategy was also the name of the game today. Choosing the right tires at the right time. Waiting for the rain. Not sure it was coming. It was coming. Then just amazing. Amazing succession of events.
“Just really proud of my team. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to show results, but the potential has been there the whole time, so I’m really proud that today we were able to show all the hard work that has been done in the background by Mike Shank and everybody at Meyer Shank Racing.
“I’m just very proud of my guys, my whole team. The pit stops were great. We keep pushing. We’re going to keep pushing. Yeah, just super awesome.…”
Although he said, “I couldn’t see anything. I couldn’t drive. I was just surviving at the end,” Pagenaud added, “I’m very thankful that IndyCar let us race. That is something to me in these conditions. It shows a different set of skills, and it’s treacherous, but that’s our job to go out there and give the best we can. And I’m thankful that they let us race in these conditions. Yeah, to me it was awesome racing today.”
Asked if he could have taken the fight to eventual winner Colton Herta after the final restart, Pagenaud said: “I couldn’t see. I didn’t even know where he was, quite frankly. I picked a few points on the fence to know where I had to brake, but it was very difficult to see without a wiper.
“If we had a wiper, it would probably help, but that was the first real wet race with the aeroscreen, so you got to give credit to IndyCar. The safety is amazing, but in these conditions you would need a wiper like they do in the sports cars. It’s very similar to the wind screen you have on a sportscar. There’s a wiper. It’s possible, and it would probably help in these conditions.”
However, he insisted that he was “not being negative at all” about the aeroscreen and pointed out that it saved Callum Ilott in Texas when a wishbone flew at him.
“We want to go forward from here. So we’ll find solutions and improve it and make sure that when we have rain races, hopefully we have more, then we don’t have these issues.”
Even though he has now had two storming drives from the rear of the field in his opening five races for Meyer Shank, Pagenaud admitted that he “had frustration up until now because we had so much performance, and it never really showed. Finally we are getting some results, which is very nice. A nice reward with all the hard work we’ve been putting in. It’s been a lot of work to today.
“Obviously, we have the big one coming up soon, and as you know, Helio [Castroneves, teammate] and myself are really excited about that one. Obviously, it’s a big goal for Helio. A big goal for myself as well. We just have to keep pushing.
“It’s funny. Sometimes second feels like a win. I would have loved to have won today, but I’m taking this home. Everybody was so excited. It’s nice to feel such support from your race team and feel like, yeah, tonight we’re probably going to celebrate like it was a win.”