Dreyer & Reinbold Racing announced Wednesday that American Le Mans Series champion and former Champ Car driver Simon Pagenaud will drive its No. 24 Dallara-Honda in this weekend's Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park, in place of regular driver Ana Beatriz. Surgery to repair the scaphoid bone in her wrist, injured by wheel-to-wheel contact during the season-opening race in St. Petersburg, has forced the Brazilian to stand down this weekend.
Frenchman Pagenaud was a teammate of Will Power in the 2007 Champ Car World Series season with Walker Racing, finishing eighth in points that year. Left without a drive by the Champ Car/IndyCar merger, he switched to the ALMS for the 2008 season with de Ferran Motorsports and subsequently moved on to the Patrón Highcroft team as a co-driver with David Brabham. The Barber race will mark his IZOD IndyCar Series debut.
"I've been looking to get into IndyCar for several years and now is my chance, so I just have to say thank you to everyone for giving me the opportunity," said Pagenaud, 26. "It's an awkward situation and not the best for a driver to race in circumstances like this, but I wish her the best and hope she has a very quick recovery and I will work hard for a good finish for DRR, Bia and Ipiranga/Blazemaster."
Beatriz, 24, suffered the injury on lap five in St. Petersburg when her car made contact with the No. 38 car driven by Graham Rahal. She soldiered on, advancing six positions to finish 14th.
"I could feel that my hand was sore and, as the race went on, it started to bother me more and I was in a lot of pain," she said. "I was just focused and determined on finishing the race. I really wanted it knowing that I wasn't 100 percent. Fortunately, I was able to finish the race and I got some good experience under my belt.
"It wasn't until after the race that I realized that something was actually broken. I was pretty upset, but the team and the league have been great. I'm putting a lot of effort in being ready for Long Beach (April 17)."
Team co-owner Dennis Reinbold added that he was confident the week off would be sufficient for Beatriz to recover from her wrist surgery.
"We wanted to put Bia in the car for this race, but it's more important that she heals properly and has a quick recovery," he said. "She's working hard and headed down the right track so that she can be ready for Long Beach. While she recovers we are happy that Simon can fill in for her this weekend."