Thursday, December 14, 2017
Sports

Simon Pagenaud, Grand Prix of St. Petersburg runnerup and BBQ master

Expect Simon Pagenaud to be one of the top contenders when the IndyCar Series kicks off with Sunday's Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

The 32-year-old Frenchman is coming off his first series championship. He drives for Team Penske, which has won eight of the series' 12 races here, including three in a row. And the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street course fits Pagenaud, who finished second in the event last year.

The Tampa Bay Times caught up with Pagenaud last week for a Q&A edited for length and clarity.

What was your favorite part of your championship celebration?

Honestly, it was going back to my hometown (Poitiers, France). They prepared a celebratory evening with the race car there, and the whole city was there. It was really cool to interact with people from my hometown when I was a kid, and going back there as a winner was what I imagined when I was a kid.

I read that your first job was at your family's supermarket. What did you do?

I was 14 years old. I was in charge of the video game shop. It was Nintendo back then, Sega. It was just really getting started. I was into video games. My dad had problems finding people like that. I started ordering, the video games. It grew and grew and grew to a point where he made it bigger. I would say when I was 20, I turned the page on the grocery business and went into racing.

How is racing different between Europe and the U.S.?

I think the relationship between the fans and the drivers are different. It feels like a show more in the U.S. — we're here to present a show for the fans. In Europe, I feel like it's more secluded, a little less open. It's just a different philosophy.

All of the Penske drivers live in North Carolina. What's that like for a guy from France?

It's definitely different than what I'm used to in France. I'm not going to lie. Obviously it's NASCAR land here. It's a different culture, but I'm very open minded. I love my life. I love living here. I love the area. I love the weather, and people are very friendly. To me, it's perfect.

Have you become a BBQ fan?

I'm a BBQ master. I like cooking a lot. I don't know if it's because I'm French, or if it's just my nature. I love sitting at a table, cooking food with a glass of wine. I make ribs. I make steaks, as well, on the barbecue.

What's it like having the whole Penske operation together?

It's great. The NASCAR boys — we're all within one race shop. It's quite cool to see and to talk about experiences, because we do similar sports, but there are so many differences in the way to approach it and prepare for it because the cars are so different. Obviously they live on the road 38 weeks of the year. We don't. But our physical preparation is a lot stronger than theirs, because we have to.

Contact Matt Baker at [email protected] Follow @MBakerTBTimes.

Comments
USF football journal: Add an audible to the Quinton Flowers legend

USF football journal: Add an audible to the Quinton Flowers legend

Bulls fans who believe QB Quinton Flowers wasn't afforded enough latitude in the 2017 offense got some figurative fuel for their argument Thursday.Or more specifically, kerosene in the form of a conversion. That game-tying two-point play in the wanin...
Updated: 3 hours ago
USF football journal: Add an audible to the Quinton Flowers legend

USF football journal: Add an audible to the Quinton Flowers legend

Bulls fans who believe QB Quinton Flowers wasn't afforded enough latitude in the 2017 offense got some figurative fuel for their argument Thursday.Or more specifically, kerosene in the form of a conversion. That game-tying two-point play in the wanin...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Lightning routs Coyotes for sixth straight win

Lightning routs Coyotes for sixth straight win

GLENDALE, Ariz. — As much as the Lightning has been rolling, it remembered how it lost twice last season to the Coyotes. Some couldn’t help but wonder if that might have been the difference in missing the playoffs by a point. But Tampa Bay continued ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lightning’s Mikhail Sergachev earns more minutes, praise

Lightning’s Mikhail Sergachev earns more minutes, praise

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Coyotes center Clayton Keller is very familiar with fellow rookie Mikhail Sergachev, the dynamic Lightning defenseman. They both were top 10 picks in 2016, Keller at No. 7 and Sergachev No. 9 to Montreal. They faced each other in th...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Cavs ride LeBron’s triple double vs. Lakers

Cavs ride LeBron’s triple double vs. Lakers

CLEVELAND — LeBron James recorded his 59th career triple double in front of Lonzo Ball and his brothers, Kevin Love scored 28 and the Cavaliers won for the 16th time in 17 games, 121-112 over the Lakers on Thursday. James finished with 25 points, 12 ...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Friday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYBoxingSuper lightweights: Vargas vs. Herrera10 p.m.FS1College basketballWomen: Southern at USF7 p.m.1040-AMMaryland-Eastern Shore at Creighton8 p.m.FS1College footballDivision III, final: Mount Union (Ohio) vs. Mary Hardin-Baylor (Texas)7 p.m.ES...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Caps continue to dominate Bruins

BOSTON — Alex Chiasson scored two third-period goals, the second on a shorthanded breakaway with 8:29 left, and the Capitals beat the Bruins 5-3 on Thursday night. Patrice Bergeron scored twice for Boston, moving past Bobby Orr on the team’s all-time...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Stephan Jiggetts’ 20 points lead USF basketball over Bethune-Cookman

Stephan Jiggetts’ 20 points lead USF basketball over Bethune-Cookman

TAMPA — USF used a 21-3 run midway through the second half en route to an 83-63 win over Bethune-Cookman on Thursday night before an announced 2,091 at the Sun Dome.The victory halted a four-game losing streak for the Bulls (5-6), who scored the last...
Updated: 2 hours ago

High school scoreboard for Dec. 14

Thursday’s scoreboardGirls soccerLargo 4, Boca Ciega 1
Updated: 2 hours ago

Sports in Brief

autosJudge rules driver’s family can sue StewartUTICA, N.Y. — A federal judge ruled the family of race car Kevin Ward Jr., who was fatally injured when struck by Tony Stewart’s sprint car, can pursue its claims against the former NASCAR star. In a 28...
Updated: 3 hours ago