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DATE News (chronologically)
03/23/12
irl
IndyCar rookies for 2012 named
New IndyCar race director Beaux Barfield has put the rookie tag on three drivers, but one of those -- former American Le Mans Series champion Simon Pagenaud -- doesn't feel like one.

The Schmidt Hamilton Racing driver competed in 14 Champ Car races -- the complete 2007 season -- and three IndyCar races last year. He has lived in Indianapolis for six years, attending the 500 every year but one.

Having been Gil de Ferran's sports car teammate, Pagenaud knows most everyone in the IndyCar paddock. But he understands a lack of oval-track experience is what makes him a rookie.

"I always wanted to do (ovals), but the year I got into Atlantics (champion in 2006), they stopped them," he said. "I got into Champ Car the next year, and they stopped the ovals. It was unfortunate."

Legge ran 28 races in two Champ Car seasons, but Milwaukee was the only oval. She finished sixth in that 2006 race, but the event switched to IndyCar the next season.

Josef Newgarden, 21, a native of Hendersonville, Tenn., is IndyCar's only true rookie, but last year's Firestone Indy Lights champion has won three of his six oval races. He drives for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing.

Rubens Barrichello, a 39-year-old Brazilian, is not considered a rookie because Barfield felt the new KV Racing Technology driver had enough high-speed experience after 19 seasons in Formula One.

Like Pagenaud, Barrichello never has raced on an oval. He'll join the rookie class in May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Indy Star

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