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SPEED.com reports that a few IndyCar team owners have been seriously considering the 26-year-old ex-Champ Car driver Simon Pagenaud for at least a part-time drive in 2011 and a full-time ride in 2012.
“It’s a bit early to talk about the details—I’m actually not permitted to discuss the details, but if it happens, it could be a pretty big deal,” Pagenaud told SPEED.com while speaking from his home in France. “If it does happen, it would be a partial season for this year, with a full season the following year. It’s where I want to be, and where I’ve wanted to be since Champ Car ended. If I can do some races this year to get acclimated to the car and to some of the tracks, I think this would be the best scenario for me to be fully up to speed with the new car and the team for 2012.”
Highcroft Racing announced their IndyCar aspirations, so the first thought is he would drive for them since he won the ALMS title for them last year.
“No, it’s not with my friends at Highcroft. I’ve been talking with several teams, not only one. It looks like I represent some kind of interest for those teams, which makes me really proud. It would be a few races this year. I was actually quite surprised to be contacted by one of the premier teams, but I have also received calls with some newer teams and even a start-up team, so all of this is quite nice for me. To have the range of interest by teams at every level is very fortunate. I think they see I have an asset to bring that would help them.”
“I wish the discussions could go faster because I’d have loved to do the complete championship this year, but I am being patient because that’s what you must do when something important like this is being evaluated. Driving for the right team is more important to me than driving for any team, honestly.”
Pagenaud made some additional statements in the same article that leads us to believe that the engine manufacturers that have announced plans to supply engines in IndyCar in 2012 are already starting to lineup the best drivers to increase their chance of winning. And it sounds to us like the highly rated Pagenaud will end up with one of the eventual Honda teams.
“My relationship with Honda has been really good over the past few years, with helping to develop a few new engines, and also chassis development with the different prototype cars HPD produces. And it appears they appreciate my work, too! When IndyCar teams call me, it seems they have spoken with Honda and HPD first and they have been very complimentary about my driving and my testing and development abilities.
“I think that is why the teams that have called have wanted me to help somewhat this year, but mostly planning ahead for 2012 with a new car, engines, aero and everything else that’s coming. [Honda and HPD] have been incredible advocates for me, and I am very grateful. I hope people realize how much I love the technical side of racing, and what I can offer there.
"Winning races is also very important, obviously, but you have to get the car and program to that place first. You can’t have one before you have the other.”
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