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IndyCar drivers ready for 2017 season

2016 IndyCar champion Simon Pagenaud chats with Indy Sports Central's Chris Hagan during media day at the series' headquarters.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Can Simon Pagenaud do it again and what does Alexander Rossi have in store after shocking the world and winning the 100th running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing?

IndyCar drivers and teams assembled at company headquarters across from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the unofficial start to the new season, knowing they’ll be back behind the wheel in less than two months.

“Winning the season championship means the pressure is off,” said Pagenaud, who was the man to beat all season in his Team Penske machine.  “I can relax more now and focus on the one I haven’t won yet, the 500.”

Team Penske bolstered its driver stable signing up-and-comer Josef Newgarden away from Ed Carpenter Racing.  He’ll join Pagenaud, three-time 500 winner Helio Castroneves, and 2014 IndyCar champion Will Power as the team to beat once more.

“I’ll have the best equipment with the strongest team now, so there’s no excuse not to be successful,” said Newgarden.  “I’m really excited about the new season and what might unfold.”

As for the current 500 champion, Rossi, back with Andretti Autosport thinks he’s a different person after a life-changing victory last May.

“A lot of races when you win you kind of tick the box and move onto races that maybe you haven’t won yet,” said the 25-year-old California native.  “But with the 500, you want to do it, because you don’t want to hear anyone else talking about it. It’s a very selfish kind of desire afterwards, but the motivation to win it again is there and stronger there for any race than I’ve won before and for pretty obvious reasons.”

The 2017 IndyCar season opens March 12th on the Streets of St. Petersburg.