NEWTON, Iowa – Simon Pagenaud has enlisted the help of his “son” in a last-minute push to win an ESPY Award.
Pagenaud’s “son,” of course, is Norman, a year-old Jack Russell Terrier who often accompanies Pagenaud and fiancée Hailey McDermott to Verizon IndyCar Series events. Norman is with his family this weekend at Iowa Speedway for the Iowa Corn 300.
Norman is the self-appointed campaign manager and surrogate for Pagenaud’s bid to win the Best Driver Award at this year’s ESPYS, which will be telecast live on ABC at 8 p.m. ET Wednesday. Norman stumped for Pagenaud, the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series champion, at Saturday’s driver autograph session. He posed for photos with Pagenaud and other drivers and helped distribute signed “I voted today” stickers to fans who voted for Pagenaud while there.
“He's getting very, very busy these days,” Pagenaud said of Norman’s role in the campaign. “He doesn't mind it as long as he gets a treat.”
Norman even secured the endorsement of four-legged friend Butler Blue III, the official bulldog mascot of Butler University and a social media star in his own right.
Others nominated in the Best Driver category are Lewis Hamilton from Formula One, NHRA drag racer Ron Capps and NASCAR’s Jimmie Johnson and Martin Truex Jr. Voting remains open at http://www.espn.com/espys/story/_/page/voting22/best-driver.
Jones driving with broken bone in foot
Ed Jones has been a pleasant surprise as a Verizon IndyCar Series rookie, sitting 10th in the season standings heading into today’s Iowa Corn 300. The Dale Coyne Racing driver, however, will be racing with a broken bone in his left foot – the third metatarsal.
Jones believes the break came from a combination of when he was involved in a crash June 10 at the Rainguard Water Sealers 600 at Texas Motor Speedway, followed by hard braking June 25 in the KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America. He’s not concerned about the foot being an issue in today’s race.
"It won't be too bad here because I don't need to brake very much,” Jones said. “It might just hurt a bit during pit stops."
Not quite time to make the donuts
Santi Urrutia was so pleased with his charge to the front in today’s Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires race at Iowa Speedway that he did some celebratory donuts after the checkered flag. Only one problem: Urrutia didn’t win the race.
Driving the No. 5 Belardi Auto Racing with SPM Mazda/Dallara IL-15, Urrutia advanced from the 11th starting position to finish second in the 100-lap race on the 0.894-mile oval. Unfortunately for the 2016 Indy Lights runner-up, Urrutia finished nearly three seconds behind race winner Matheus Leist.
But he didn’t know it.
"I thought when I passed Dalton (Kellett), it was for the lead," Urrutia said. "Then when I pulled in to the pit lane, my crew guys were happy, but not really happy. Then I wasn't parked in front of the podium. I asked why, and they said, ‘Santi, you were second.’”
Urrutia said he never knew Leist, who moved from 10th on the starting grid to win for the third time in the last four Indy Lights races, was in the lead.
“I hope I get to do donuts again,” Urrutia said, “but maybe after a win.”