Meyer Shank Racing has proven it can step up and win the big races – the 50th & 60th Rolex 24 At Daytona; the final race for the Daytona Prototype class in the 2016 Petit Le Mans; and the biggest of them all, the 2021 Indianapolis 500.
However, while the team took GTD crowns in both 2019 and 2020, the next big goal was an overall championship. Would that change in 2022?
Rolex 24 At Daytona
Ten years after winning the historic 50th Rolex 24 At Daytona, Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian doubled up in the racing classic. Oliver Jarvis, Tom Blomqvist, Simon Pagenaud and MSR’s Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves captured a thriller.
Castroneves was at the wheel for the final 43 minutes following the final stop. He led all the way to the checkered flag, stretching his fuel while holding off the sister Acura DPi down the stretch in a torrid sprint. Recreating a scene from Indianapolis just nine months later, Castroneves, Shank and the team then climbed the fence to celebrate.
The team kicked off the season by leading the championship standings by 23-points.
Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring
Coming off the high of winning at Daytona, MSR came back to earth in the second Florida endurance classic, placing fifth in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
Blomqvist, Jarvis and Stoffel Vandoorne – who filled in for Castroneves who had an IndyCar conflict – were in the fight for the podium for most of the race, only to lose pace as the track cooled in the closing hours. At the end, they were only 0.663-seconds shy of the podium and the No. 60 Acura fell to third in the points standings.
Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach
MSR came up only 0.966-seconds shy of a podium finish on the streets of Long Beach, placing fourth in the Acura Grand Prix after running in contention for the entire 100-minutes.
Jarvis was running third with two laps remaining. He countered an ambitious move by Pipo Derani that sent both cars wide, enabling a fellow competitor to pass both cars and grab the final position. Jarvis held on for fourth with the No. 60 Acura maintaining third in the championship standings.
Monterey Sports Car Championship
MSR began a run of runner-up finishes at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, also setting the stage for a season-long battle for the championship among the two Acura teams.
Running second, MSR attempted an undercut strategy on its final pit stop. The other Acura DPi retained the lead, with Blomqvist coming up 1.808-seconds short. The 1-2 Acura finish left the two teams tied for the DPi championship lead with 1325-points each.
Grand Prix at Mid-Ohio
Picking up where they left off at Laguna Seca, the two Acura teams took up the battle at MSR’s home track at Mid-Ohio, with similar results.
Blomqvist again turned in the fastest lap of the race in a bid to pass for the lead, but he finished second, 2.098-seconds in arrears. The second place finish gave a small advantage to the sister Acura, with MSR sitting second in the points standings by just 32-points.
Detroit Grand Prix
The good news for Meyer Shank Racing on the streets of Detroit was that it regained the lead in the scrap for the DPi crown.
Jarvis and Blomqvist ran second for virtually the entire 100-minute race – despite the track catering to the the competing Cadillac machines. The team took the checkered flag a scant 0.398-seconds behind the winning car – extending the MSR streak to three straight second-place finishes. The impressive run to the finish boosted the No. 60 Acura back to the top of the championship standings with the second half of the season still left on the table.
Sahlen’s Six Hour of The Glen
A picture-perfect weekend was halted by a late-race thunderstorm after MSR “won” all the practices, qualifying and even the morning warm-up. Blomqvist and Jarvis then combined to lead 78 laps during the Watkins Glen classic, never placing lower than second.
Blomqvist led on the restart, but lost the lead in the Inner Loop following an aggressive move by the sister Acura which made contact with Blomqvist’s Acura. Blomqvist came up 0.861-seconds short of a second victory. Unfortunately, the other Acura regained the points lead, leading MSR by 17-points with three rounds remaining.
Canadian Tire Motorsport Park
Another race, another second-place finish for MSR – for the fifth race in a row.
Fortunately, MSR’s second place finish was beneficial with the other championship contender unraveled with a sixth-place finish. Both Blomqvist and Jarvis spent lengthy turns out front but lost the lead resulting in a second place finish. Despite coming up short of an overall victory, MSR gained a 56-point lead in the championship.
IMSA Fastlane Sports Car Weekend at Road America
The pendulum swung again in the race for the DPi crown, unfortunately at MSR’s expense. Despite a rash of mechanical issues, Jarvis took the lead on a sensational pit stop with 40-minutes remaining – challenged by the rival Acura.
The two rivals split a lapped GTD car with 23-minutes on the clock, with the sister Acura going through the grass in a desperate move for the lead. Jarvis maintained second despite pressure when his luck ran out. He tagged the wall with eighth minutes left to bring out a final caution. Managing to regain control, he maintained pace car speed as the clock ran out to finish fourth. MSR dropped down to second in the points by a slim 19-point gap.
Motul Petit Le Mans
All the marbles were on the line for the final DPi championship in the season finale at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. Meyer Shank Racing was more than up to the challenge. It came to down simply to which Acura would finish ahead of the other.
With a critical pole position on the line – which would offer up additional championship points for pole – Blomqvist did what he needed to do and captured the pole to narrow the gap to 14-points ahead of Saturday’s green flag.
Blomqvist joined Jarvis and Castroneves in running a consistent, perfectly executed race. Running second to the title leaders early in the final hour, Blomqvist took the lead on the final pit stop which saw the MSR crew make a sensationally quick full-service stop to jump the field and come out in the lead. From there on, Blomqvist extended the lead until a final caution waved with four minutes remaining, wrapping up with a race win and a championship title in hand.
With the final DPi championship secured, MSR has a new goal for 2023: the inaugural IMSA GTP title, with the new Acura LMDh.