Notes: Pagenaud, Team Penske honored with 2017 Autoweek Awards

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Simon Pagenaud, the reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion, and the powerful Team Penske organization for which he drives were named winners Monday of the prestigious 2017 Autoweek Awards.

The popular magazine that covers everything related to car culture named Pagenaud, who won five races and seven Verizon P1 Award pole positions on the way to his first series championship, was bestowed the Autoweek Driver Award. Others considered for the award were Will Power, Pagenaud’s teammate who finished second in the championship despite missing a race, NASCAR Cup champion Jimmie Johnson and Formula One titlist Nico Rosberg.

Team Penske earned the Autoweek Team Award for its strength across both INDYCAR and NASCAR. Pagenaud, Power and Helio Castroneves finished 1-2-3 in the Verizon IndyCar Series standings while both Penske NASCAR drivers, Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski, qualified for the Chase playoff, with Logano finishing second to Johnson.

In addition, Chip Ganassi Racing won the 2017 Autoweek Moment Award for its Ford GT that triumphantly returned to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, winning the LMGTE class in June, 50 years after a Ford GT captured the overall win in the world-renowned endurance race. Among those driving the class-winning car this year was Verizon IndyCar Series regular Sebastien Bourdais.

Juan Pablo Montoya was named winner of the Autoweek Moment Award a year ago for his stirring 2015 Indianapolis 500 victory with Team Penske.

Montoya excels at his own charity karting event

Gustavo Yacaman, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Gabby ChavesJuan Pablo Montoya played competitive host at his charity karting event in his native Colombia, the Carrera de Estrellas (Race of Stars) at Autodromo de Tocancipa near Bogota. The event featured five drivers with INDYCAR ties and raised money for Montoya’s Formula Smiles Foundation.

Montoya won the first heat of the day and finished second to fellow INDYCAR driver and Colombian Gabby Chaves in the second race. Other participating drivers with INDYCAR ties included Carlos Munoz, who will drive for AJ Foyt Racing in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series, as well as Sebastian Saavedra and Gustavo Yacaman.

Schmidt, Power, Servia among iRacing Race of Champions field

Verizon IndyCar Series team co-owner Sam Schmidt will once again compete in the iRacing Pro Race of Champions on Wednesday, as well as current drivers Will Power and Oriol Servia and retired INDYCAR and Formula One ace Rubens Barrichello.

The sixth annual online event will be Schmidt’s second year of participation and will take place on the 1-mile Phoenix International Raceway oval, pitting himself against some of motorsports’ greatest talents in this virtual showdown.
 
The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team co-owner will be the only driver in the field of 24 competing to utilize driving aids provided by Arrow Electronics. The simulator, located at CXC Simulations in Los Angeles, Calif., will be equipped with advanced technology, similar to that seen in the Arrow Chevrolet Corvette semi-autonomous car that Schmidt has driven to speeds exceeding 150 mph at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Schmidt and this particular simulator will be outfitted with reflective infrared sensors and cameras to control the steering, as well as a pressure sensor located inside the driver’s mouth that detects acceleration and braking with the use of his breath.

The 2015 iRacing Pro Race of Champions, which took place on the 3.4-mile, 11-turn Watkins Glen International road course, saw Schmidt, a quadriplegic following a testing crash in 2000, qualify 25th and finish 17th.

"I'm very much looking forward to this event,” Schmidt said. “Last year I had no idea what to expect given I have very little simulator experience, but I was pleased to not qualify dead last and ran the entire event in spite of getting punted on the first lap.

“Now we are going to one of my all-time favorite circuits in PIR and racing on the oval, which should level the playing ground somewhat. I still wish they would do an event with everyone utilizing the Arrow head controls, but maybe down the road. I'm just ecstatic to be in the same event with this list of incredible talent."

The 50-lap event begins at 9 p.m. ET Wednesday. Fans can watch live at iRacing.com.

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