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First IndyCar oval win at Phoenix best of Pagenaud's career

IndyCar champion Simon Pagenaud says earning his first oval win, at Phoenix last Saturday, is his greatest victory in the series

The 32-year-old has now won 10 IndyCar races since his debut in 2011, having spent the first part of his post-junior single-seater career as an American Le Mans Series frontrunner and champion.

Pagenaud stayed out a lap later than his rivals while running third at Phoenix and benefitted from a full-course yellow to gain a crucial advantage he held to the end.

"Those were the longest 50 laps of my life," the Penske driver said.

"I have a button on the steering wheel to check the lap count, and every lap I was pressing the button.

"It was the most stressful end of the race I've ever lived, but the car was just phenomenal.

"This is just incredible. For me, this is my best win because it's so strategic to win on an oval.

"You have to really study what the others are doing, how your car is responding, adjust it during the race to be good at the end and today was just exactly a perfect day.

"I couldn't be any happier."

The Frenchman's breakthrough oval victory was the first of his title defence and moved him to the top of the points after four races.

It comes five years after his oval debut, which came in his first full-year of IndyCar competition in 2012 with Schmidt-Hamilton Motorsports.

"This win for me has been a long time coming," he said.

"I had to relearn everything. Ovals for me were completely unknown.

"So, when you are 25 years old and you have to relearn everything it's not that easy.

"I think now it's coming."

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