Late race puncture spoils potential for Pagenaud result
MADISON, IL (20 August 2022) – Helio Castroneves finished 15th to lead Meyer Shank Racing (MSR) in Saturday’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway, in an event marked by long green-flag stretches and a red flag lasting over two hours due to a late downpour.
Castroneves, driving the No. 06 AutoNation / SiriusXM Honda, crossed the line 15th and five spots ahead of MSR teammate Simon Pagenaud, who came home 20th in the No. 60 AutoNation / SiriusXM Honda after he was forced to pit lane with a puncture late in the race.
The starting time for the event at the circuit originally known as Gateway International Raceway was moved up nearly 30 minutes due to predicted rain. Action was fast and furious once the green flag waved, with the opening 145 laps run without a caution. The long green flag sprint saw both MSR cars racing in the pack, with Castroneves 15th and Pagenaud 16th at the first caution.
After a brief caution, racing resumed with another long green flag run, with weather continuing to close in. The two MSR cars did the overcut for their final stops, which unfortunately came only a few laps before the anticipated rain finally began to bring out the second – and final – caution. A short downpour – coupled with lightning in the area – quickly brought out the red flag. When the rain let off, the long process to dry the 1.25-mile egg-shaped oval began.
Pagenaud and Castroneves were running eighth and 10th when they made their final scheduled pit stops with the laps winding down. Less than five minutes later, the long-awaited rain struck the speedway, bringing out a red flag with 43 laps remaining.
When the track finally dried, Pagenaud was running 14th for the final restart, with Castroneves just behind. Pagenaud had to pit three laps later due to a cut tire following contact in the tight pack. Castroneves took his position but battled a balky gearbox down the stretch, coming home 15th in the final oval outing of the season.
Next up will be the Grand Prix of Portland (Oregon) on Sept. 4, followed by the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on Sept. 11.
“Well let me tell you after the red flag, when we came back for the restart, we had an issue with the gearbox unfortunately. That controls the downshifts, so for the first five or six laps, I couldn’t downshift correctly. My dash was frozen and everything was a bit crazy. So you can imagine— for the restart when everyone was angry, ready to go but I didn’t have any downshifts so it was quite a challenge. But honestly it was good that we were even able to finish and bring the AutoNation / SiriusXM car home after that issue today. So it was a top 15, which we keep chipping away at it, and working on the curve. When we come back here next year, we will do much better!”
“We had a really fast car today, but it ended up being a pretty terrible night after the puncture. We were on track to finish just outside of the top ten I think but it’s just unfortunate. It’s just the worst luck I’ve had in a single season– I don’t even know what to say! I’m so frustrated for the entire team, who are doing a fantastic job. There is just so much potential here, I am just can’t wait for the luck to turn for us to be able to really show it.”