Simon Pagenaud doesn't think he would have been able to hold off Charlie Kimball in the closing laps of the Honda 200, even if he were able to better navigate lap traffic, specifically E.J. Viso who fought him fiercely to stay on the lead lap.
Pagenaud and Kimball pitted a handful of laps apart and Pagenaud was able to get in front of Kimball immediately after completing his final stop. But the Schmidt-Hamilton Motorsports driver found himself trapped behind Viso and the traffic combined with colder tires allowed Kimball to make quick work of the Frenchman.
"I knew it was going to be close, but our ‘friend' Viso, again, was in the middle of the racetrack and racing the leader, so that didn't help," Pagenaud said during the postrace press conference. "It is what it is. It's racing. But it's frustrating when there's no need for it really.
"If it wasn't for Viso, I think I could have kept my lead for at least [a little] longer. But Charlie was really strong, anyways. I don't know if I could have kept him behind."
Pagenaud was ultimately able to get around Viso and held on to second-place, his second podium finish of the season and first since winning the second Duel in Detroit in June at Belle Isle.
Like Kimball, Pagenaud employed a three-stop strategy and picked-up a net game of six spots after starting from eighth. He began the race on the black primary tires and would run the second and third stints on the alternate red tires. Pagenaud says his car felt better on the reds and allowed him to compete for the win.
"We knew we had a very consistent car, but the goal was to come back to the leaders at the end of the first stint, and then put on the new set of [reds] - we knew the car would be good on those tires," Pagenaud explained.
"And then my race was basically to go really, really fast on the second stint to try to jump the guys in front, because it's really difficult to pass on the racetrack. The goal was to try to pass as many cars as possible doing that strategy, and we did."
Pagenaud led twice in the race for a total of 14 laps and leaves Mid-Ohio fifth in the championship standings.