Pagenaud: Sonoma victor will take title
9 August 2017 – Reigning IndyCar Champion Simon Pagenaud believes whoever triumphs at the Sonoma season finale will emerge with the crown, amid a tight battle in 2017.
Pagenaud holds fourth place in the standings, but sits just 17 points behind title leader and Penske team-mate Josef Newgarden, the pair sandwiching Hélio Castroneves and Scott Dixon.
Pagenaud clinched last year's IndyCar title with a pole-to-victory performance at the double-points event at Sonoma, and feels whoever can pull off the feat in 2017 will be champion.
"We're going to have to be really strong at Sonoma," he explained to the official IndyCar website.
"Getting the pole and winning the race, I think, will get you the championship.
"We've got to bring our A game the last four races to leapfrog them.
"These next four races are going to give you a good idea of who is really the leader, but the last race is going to decide it.
"At the end of the day, there are 100 points [for winning] at Sonoma, so as long as you're within 35 points of the leader [before] the last race, you've got a shot."
Pagenaud took five wins in his title campaign but has so far triumphed only once this year, but feels he can draw on his experience to remain firmly in the fight.
"Last year, we just hit our stride really well and everything went right," said the Penske driver.
"This year, we just haven't had a great season yet. Hopefully it will start. I haven't been bad, but it hasn't been as brilliant.
"You've got to be satisfied with being in the hunt for the championship with four races to go.
"I won last year, so why not? We'll certainly give it a good push at the end.
"I've found my stride again, but there's really strong competition. There are a lot of guys on top of their game right now."
1. Josef Newgarden - 453 points
2. Hélio Castroneves - 446 points
3. Scott Dixon - 445 points
4. Simon Pagenaud - 436 points
5. Will Power - 401 points
6. Graham Rahal - 395 points
August 20: Pocono (oval)
August 26: Gateway (oval)
September 3: Watkins Glen (road course)
September 17: Sonoma (road course)