ST. PETERSBURG, FL (27 February 2022) – Both Meyer Shank Racing (MSR) drivers spent time in the top five in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg before placing just outside the top 10.
Helio Castroneves finished 14th in the No. 06 AutoNation/ SiriusXM Honda on the tight 1.8-mile street circuit, one position ahead of MSR teammate Simon Pagenaud in the No. 60 AutoNation / SiriusXM Honda. The teammates were separated by 0.6162-seconds at their lead-lap finish.
Both drivers ran consistent races, placing fourth and fifth of competitors using a three pit stop strategy. Contrary to its usual form with numerous caution periods on the concrete-lined course, the race was slowed by only one full-course caution, coming out early in the event, while 24 of the 26 competitors were running at the finish.
Castroneves started 17th, and pitted under green 10 laps into the event. He returned to pit lane during the lone caution on lap 26, and was running 22nd at the restart. From there, the four-time Indianapolis 500 winner gradually improved his position.
As the strategies played out through the long green flag run, Castroneves came all the way up to third position before his final stop on lap 66. He returned to the fray in 20th and had improved to 14th three laps later, holding that position on the run to the checkered flag.
Making his first IndyCar start with MSR after launching the year with the Rolex 24 At Daytona win with the team, Pagenaud made it to the Firestone Fast Six in qualifying on Saturday, starting on the outside of the third row. He was shuffled back four positions to 10th on the opening lap. Pagenaud pitted on lap 11 to shed his Firestone alternate tires, and was up to fifth at the time of the caution.
Pagenaud improved to third when he pitted under green, dropping him to 21st. He worked back to seventh before his final stop on lap 68. He returned to the race in 15th – one position behind Castroneves – and held the position for the final 31 laps.
The next race for the IndyCar Series will be the Xpel 375 at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 20, with the race airing live on NBC at 12:30 p.m. ET.
Helio Castroneves, No. 06 AutoNation / SiriusXM Honda:
“I have to give big props to Meyer Shank Racing and especially Adam (Rovazzini – MSR Competition Director). The goal was to put some points on the board and that’s exactly what we did. Obviously 14th is not where we wanted to be, however some days that’s what you get as a result. We are going to take what we learned here and use it for Long Beach – but first we have Texas and that’s where we need to collect a lot of points.”
Simon Pagenaud, No. 60 AutoNation / SiriusXM Honda:
“Overall I think we had a lot of performance this weekend, a lot of pace over one lap. Personally, I’m disappointed with my start and dropped back a few spots. And then we opted for three stops and defended to (Josef) Newgarden and the two stop strategy actually worked better. I think it was great to get my first race in the books. There’s a lot to learn from it and a lot of potential which I’m excited about.”